Prayers for the Dead (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #9)

Prayers for the Dead (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #9)

4.3 26
by Faye Kellerman

View All Available Formats & Editions

The brutal murder of celebrated heart surgeon Azor Sparks brings with it shock, public outrage, and a demand for answers. Immediately, Lieutenant Peter Decker and his crack team of homicide detectives begin working overtime to unravel the mystery. But the deeper they probe, the more murky the case grows. Sparks's wife and six adult children stand to inherit a sizable…  See more details below


The brutal murder of celebrated heart surgeon Azor Sparks brings with it shock, public outrage, and a demand for answers. Immediately, Lieutenant Peter Decker and his crack team of homicide detectives begin working overtime to unravel the mystery. But the deeper they probe, the more murky the case grows. Sparks's wife and six adult children stand to inherit a sizable fortune. Vicious backbiting among jealous colleagues raises questions about the dead surgeon's pharmaceutical research. Outlaw bikers with their own agenda suddenly show up at Sparks's funeral. And Decker's investigation is further complicated by the resurrection of old secrets from his wife's past.

Editorial Reviews

Lorenzo Carcattera
Her best work. It would be a sin to miss it.
Baltimore Sun
No one working in the crime genre is better.
Los Angeles Times Book Review unusually well-written detective story.
Chatanooga Free Press
Brilliant and and well written...Kellerman proves once again that she is a master storyteller. It's a real gem.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Powerful, assured and absorbing, Kellerman's ninth Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus (Sanctuary; Justice) mystery begins with the brutal murder and mutilation of renowned heart surgeon, researcher and fundamentalist Christian Azor Sparks. LAPD Lieutenant Decker gets the call. He also gets an abundance of suspects. First there is Sparks's large family: his wife, Dolores, and six adult children, including triplets (Paul, Luke and Abram, a Catholic priest), and their assorted spouses. Then there are the victim's surgical and research colleagues and his unlikely biking buddies. Religion and morality are integral to Kellerman's mysteriesbuilt on the bedrock of the Deckers' orthodox Judaism. Here she deftly casts her net around the commanding victim, whose shadow lay equally over family and colleagues, and his son, the theologian Father Abram, whose past connection with Rina may force Decker off the case. Human strengths and frailties, decisions made or not made and mistakes overcome or yet to be reckoned with provide the material that Decker must sift through to find the murderer. As his competent staff (Marge Dunn among them) launch their probes in all directions, they uncover a catalogue of motives that may relate to Sparks's murder and to another that follows. Kellerman succeeds brilliantly in making the search for understanding as compelling as the search for the murderer. 100,000 first printing; audio rights to Brilliance. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Kellerman's latest offering continues the story of Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus, an L.A. detective and his beautiful wife. Someone has murdered Azor Sparks, noted heart surgeon, and Peter must discover the motive and the murderer. Was the motive greed, ambition, random violence, or love gone wrong? Was the murderer one of Sparks's colleagues, or one of his family? And what is the connection between Rina and Sparks's son Abram? Kellerman (Justice, Morrow, 1995) offers another handsomely crafted work, full of twists and turns that keep the reader on edge to the last page. Highly recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/96.]Katherine Holmes, Eckerd College Library, St. Petersburg, FL
Emily Melton
Kellerman, one of crime fiction's most popular authors, has done it again. Her latest Rina Lazarus/Pete Decker mystery will extend her hot streak. It begins when L.A. cop Pete Decker is called to the scene of a grisly crime where the mutilated body of renowned heart surgeon Azor Sparks has been found. The nonsmoking, churchgoing, family-man doctor, it turns out, wasn't nearly as perfect as he would have had his adoring public believe. He had plenty of enemies, even among his own family members. The case gets personal when Decker finds, to his dismay, that his own wife has had a long and--to Decker--oddly unsettling association with the Sparks family that may impact the case. With his usual painstaking persistence, Decker follows all the leads and finally arrives at the bizarre and shocking truth. Skilled writing, an intriguing plot, and Kellerman's deft and oh-so-subtle exploration of family dynamics make this a winner all round. Headed for big sales? You bet! Buy plenty.
Kirkus Reviews
For a man who often seemed to be presenting himself as God, Dr. Azor Moses Sparks met an unusually ignominious end, shot and slashed to death in the car parked in the alley behind Tracadero's restaurant. Now, everywhere Lt. Peter Decker looks, he finds riddles about the discrepancy between the gifted heart surgeon's exalted reputation and the reality of his life. Why does his large family—his wife, four sons, and two daughters—seem more shocked than grief-stricken at the news of his death? Why did Sparks spend his weekends riding with a motorcycle gang headed by toughs named Grease Pit and Sidewinder? Why did the outspoken fundamentalist keep flamboyantly gay Dr. Reginald Decameron on his staff at New Christian Hospital? Why were the latest reports on Curedon, the anti-rejection medicine Sparks had pioneered for transplant patients, seem suddenly so much more encouraging than previous trials, and why did Decameron swipe the Curedon data from Sparks's fax? And—since Decker's own family won't be spared from the maelstrom of Sparks's murder—what's the connection between Sparks's enigmatic son Abram, who turned his back on his father's fundamentalism to become a Catholic priest, and Decker's wife Rina Lazarus?

Plotting as sumptuously as P.D. James, Kellerman (Justice, 1995, etc.) uses the fashionable issues of homosexuality, religious differences, and medical ethics to reach the tormented humanity at the core of the all-too-well-named Sparks family.

Read More

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series, #9
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.08(d)

Read an Excerpt


"This is a team effort, Grace. You know that.''

Even through morphine-laden stupor, Grace knew that. From her hospital bed, she looked up at her doctor's face—study in strength. Good, solid features. A well-boned forehead, Roman nose and a pronounced chin, midnight blue eyes that burned fire, tar-black hair streaked with silver. His expression, though grave, was completely self-assured. Someone who knew what he wanted and expected to get it. Truth be told, the man looked downright arrogant.

Which was exactly the kind of doctor Grace had wanted. What she hadn't wanted was some young stud like Ben Casey or an old fart like Marcus Welby with the crinkly eyes and the patient, understanding smile. She had wanted someone bursting with ego. Someone whose superiority was touted, worn with pride like Tiffany jewelry. A self-possession that spoke: Of course the operation is going to be successful. Because I always succeed Because getting a new heart was serious business.

Grace Armstrong had to have the best and the brightest. Had the luxury to afford the best and the brightest And in Dr. Azor Moses Sparks, she had gotten numero uno.

Dope was winning the battle of wits with Grace's brain. Sparks's face had lost clarity, sat behind a curtain of haze, his features becoming blurry except for the eyes. They peered through the muck like high-beam head lights. She wanted to go to sleep. But Sparks's presence told her she wasn't permitted to do that . . . not just yet.

He spoke in authoritative, stentorian tones. The sounds bounced around Grace's brain, words reverberating as if uttered through a malfunctioning PA system. Doctor's voice. . . ". . . what we have here,Grace. A team comprised of me: the primary surgeon; you: the patient; and my staff-the other fine surgeons and nurses who'll assist me in this procedure."

Grace liked how Dr. Sparks had emphasized his fine staff. As if he owned New Christian Hospital.

Maybe he did.

She closed her eyes, anxiety now replaced by the overwhelming need to go comatose. But Sparks wouldn't let up.

"Grace, open your eyes. We still have uncompleted business to finish."

Grace opened her eyes.

"We mustn't forget someone very important," Sparks reminded her. "The most important member of our team."

The surgeon paused.

"Do you know who that is, Grace? Do you know whose Hands really control this entire effort?"

Grace was silent. Though groggy and heavy, she felt her ailing heart fluttering too fast. He was testing her and she was flunking. She regarded Sparks through panicky eyes. The doctor smiled, gently patted her hand The gesture reassured her immensely.

Sparks pointed upward. Grace's eyes followed the narcotic-induced flickering path of the surgeon's index finger.

Respectfully, Sparks said, "We mustn't forget Him."

"God?'' Grace was breathless.

"Yes, Grace.'' Sparks nodded "We mustn't forget our holy, heavenly Father."

Grace spoke, her words barely recognizable. "Believe me, Dr. Sparks, I've been praying nonstop."

Sparks smiled It lit up his face, gave warmth to his stern demeanor. "I'm very glad to hear that. So let us pray together, Grace. Let us both ask God for His help and for His guidance."

The surgeon went down on his knees. At that moment, Grace thought him very odd, but didn't comment. Sparks 's manner suggested that the ritual wasn't subject to debate. She closed her eyes, managed to put her hands together.

"Dear heavenly Father,'' Sparks began, "be our guiding light through this time of darkness. Be a strong beacon to direct us through this upcoming storm. Show us Your mercy and Your love in its abundancy. Let Your wisdom be our wisdom. Your perfection be our perfection. Let Grace Armstrong be upmost in her fortitude. Give her strength and faith. In Your abundant love, allow me and my staff to be swift and sure-footed as we embark on another journey to heal the sick and mend the feeble."

Grace winced inside at the word feeble.

"And now a moment of silence," Sparks said "You may add your own words of prayer here, Grace."

Her own words were: Please, let me go to sleep, wake up and have this shitty ordeal behind me.

Sparks's eyes were still closed Grace's head felt leaden, her brain so woozy it threatened to shut down. She managed to make out Sparks's face, his lids opening. Suddenly, his eyes seemed injected with newly found vigor.

Grace liked that.

Sparks regarded his patient, swept his skilled hands over her lids, and gently closed them. ''Go to sleep, Grace. Tomorrow you'll be a new woman."

Grace felt herself going under. No longer was her health in her hands.

It was up to Sparks.

It was up to God.

At that moment, they were one and the same.

Copyright ) 1996 by Faye Kellerman

Read More

What People are saying about this

Lorenzo Carcattera
Her best work. It would be a shame to miss it.

Meet the Author

Faye Kellerman lives with her husband, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman, in Los Angeles, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Brief Biography

Beverly Hills, California
Date of Birth:
July 31, 1952
Place of Birth:
St. Louis, Missouri
B.A. in Mathematics, 1974; D.D.A., 1978

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >