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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
The mass suicide of the Heaven's Gate cult fascinates me. Being an unruly sort myself, I can't imagine convincing that many egos to go along with anything as final as suicide. Nonetheless, the event struck me then, as it strikes me now, as a wretchedly sad commentary on the spiritual torpor of our time.
Faye Kellerman apparently shares my fascination, for her latest novel is a spellbinder about a cult much like Heaven's Gate, led by the quixotic former scientist Dr. Emil Ganz, a.k.a. Father Jupiter.
Kellerman manages to make this a particularly southern California story, the background noisy and vibrant with the community reaction to the suspicious death of Father Jupiter. If such cults bloomed in New Hampshire, say, we'd have a different ambience here.
The death is an excuse for Kellerman (and her fictional sleuths Pete Decker and Rina Lazarus) to look inside the cult, which she does with great and earnest skill and not without a certain sympathy for what she finds there. A lesser writer would have turned the book into an attack or low comedy. But Kellerman isn't afraid of serious religious speculation, and her look at the cult is both challenging and disturbing. In fact, in places Jupiter's Bones reminds me of Nathanael West's chagrined pity whenever he dealt with the monstrously pathetic.
Did someone inside the cult hate Father Jupiter enough to kill him? Kellerman never forgets that this is a mystery novel and keeps her A plot moving straight ahead at all times. But, like a true novelist, she allows herself and her readers to ruminate on some of the sadder truthsofour time. An excellent novel.