The Ritual Bath (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #1)

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"Phenomenal...[The Ritual Bath] combines likable characters, a superb mystery plot, and valid insights into Jewish life."
MURDER INK
The quiet, ordered world of a yeshiva in the California hills is shattered when a woman is brutally raped as she returns from the mikvah, the bathhouse where women perform their cleansing ritual. Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD has never heard anything like it. And although most of the community refuses to talk to him, Rina Lazarus, the only ...
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The Ritual Bath (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #1)

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Overview

"Phenomenal...[The Ritual Bath] combines likable characters, a superb mystery plot, and valid insights into Jewish life."
MURDER INK
The quiet, ordered world of a yeshiva in the California hills is shattered when a woman is brutally raped as she returns from the mikvah, the bathhouse where women perform their cleansing ritual. Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD has never heard anything like it. And although most of the community refuses to talk to him, Rina Lazarus, the only witness, does, steering him through the maze of confusing religious laws that thwart his investigation at every turn. As the trail grows cold, Decker's only getting closer to Rina and not to the rapist—or is he? Maybe Rina wa the intended victim all along. And the rapist may not stop with rape the next time...

Faye Kellerman, wife of Jonathan Kellerman, bestselling author of When the Bough Breaks, weaves a fascinating mystery set in Los Angeles' orthodox Jewish community. Soon to be a CBS-TV movie.

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Editorial Reviews

San Diego Union-Tribune
Exceptionally fine suspense.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Engaging.
Murder Inc.
Phenomenal!.
Murder Inc.
Phenomenal!
Los Angeles Magazine
Move over, Dr. Ruth!
Beverly Hills Today
Just what cupid ordered!
Dr. Patricia Allen
The woman's movement brought us independence, but it did not bring us love.
Publishers Weekly

Like the series it inspired, Kellerman's award-winning 1986 debut novel combines police procedure, via hard-boiled LAPD detective Peter Decker, with Judaic rites and rituals courtesy of its heroine Rina Lazarus, an ultra-Orthodox widowed mother of two. Decker and Lazarus are brought together by the brutal rape of a young bride-to-be at the mikvah (a bathhouse used in the purification ritual) that Rina manages in the Hollywood hills. Mitchell Greenberg nicely vocalizes the story from Decker's point of view, with the detective struggling to stick to his sleuthing in spite of his developing feelings for Rina. The novel continually rings true, from explaining various Orthodox beliefs and customs to Decker and his crew's no-nonsense unmasking of the villain. Greenberg moves in and out of the novel's elements smoothly and efficiently. He paces the police work with just the right sense of urgency and frustration; handles the romantic sequences with the proper emotion and without a hint of sentimentality; and breezes through the many Jewish-centric passages with the confidence and clarity of a yeshiva graduate. An Avon paperback. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Library Journal

This is Kellerman's first Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus mystery, published in 1986. When an orthodox Jewish woman is raped outside the mikvah(ritual bath), Det. Peter Decker is assigned to the case and soon becomes immersed in the insular world of the Yeshiva (orthodox Jewish school). While investigating the rape, Peter meets Rina Lazarus, the young widow who runs the bathhouse, and there is an immediate mutual attraction. Despite Rina's determination not to get involved with a Gentile, her romantic feelings toward Peter grow. The story is exciting, the characters are well developed, and the listener is introduced to Jewish law and ritual. Narrator Mitchell Greenberg does an excellent job; he pronounces the Jewish terms and Hebrew words correctly, and he gives each character an appropriate voice and accent. Highly recommended for mystery collections. [Also available as downloadable audio.-Ed.]
—Ilka Gordon

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060563752
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/3/2004
  • Series: Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series , #1
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Meet the Author

Faye  Kellerman

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

Biography

It's tempting to compare Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus to Dashiell Hammett's classic crime-solving couple, Nick and Nora Charles. But Faye Kellerman's duo, who debuted in 1983, bear more resemblance to her own husband-wife dynamic with fellow bestselling thriller author Jonathan Kellerman. Decker is an L.A. cop; wife Rina is an Orthodox Jewish mom who gets very involved in her husband's work. The series comes with a love story built in, since in the first title, Ritual Bath, Lazarus is a witness meeting Detective Decker for the first time. Over the next dozen-odd novels, the two fall in love, get married, have children and solve crimes along the way.

Kellerman, who was inspired by her husband to begin writing, is also the author of Moon Music, a contemporary thriller set in Las Vegas, and The Quality of Mercy, a historical novel of Elizabethan England. Fans needn't worry, however, that Kellerman is going to abandon the pair she is best known for. "I never tire of them," Kellerman says in an interview on her publisher's web site of Decker and Lazarus. "I like them very much, but to keep them fresh is the main reason why I have two 'outside-the-series' or 'stand alone' books. Once in a while you have to sit back and gain some perspective on these people that you are writing about year after year."

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

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



"The key to a good potato kugel is good potatoes," Sarah Libba shouted over the noise of the blow dryer. "The key to a great potato kugel is the amount of oil. You have to use just enough oil to make the batter moist, plus a little excess to leak out around the cake pan and fry the edges to make the whole thing nice and crisp without being too greasy."

Rina nodded and folded a towel. If anyone would know how to cook a potato kugel, it was Sarah Libba. The woman could roast a shoe and turn it into a delicacy. But tonight Rina was too fatigued to listen with a full ear. It was already close to ten o'clock, and she still had to clean the mikvah, then grade thirty papers.

It had been a busy evening because of the bride. A lot of to-do, hand-holding, and explaining. The young girl had been very nervous, but who wouldn't be about marriage? Rivki was barely seventeen with little knowledge of the world around her. Sheltered and exquisitely shy, she'd gotten engaged to Baruch after three dates. But Rina thought it was a good match. Baruch was a good student and kind and very patient. He'd never once lost his temper while teaching Shmuel how to ride a two-wheeler. He'd be calm yet encouraging, Rina decided, and it wouldn't be long before Rivki knew the ropes just like the rest of them.

Sarah shut off the dryer, and the motor belched a final wheeze. Fluffing up her closecropped hair, she sighed and placed a wig at her head. The nylon tresses were ebony atop long, falling past Sarah Libba's slender shoulders. She was a pretty woman with wide brown eyes that lit UP a round, friendly face. And short, not more than fivefeet, with a shin figure that belied the fact that she'd borne four children. Meticulous in dress and habit, she worked methodically, combing and styling the artificial black strands.

"Here," Rina said. "Let me help you with the back."

Sarah smiled. "Know what inspired me to buy this shaytel?"

Rina shook her head.

"Your hair, Rina, , said Sarah. "It's getting so long."

"I know. Chana's already mentioned it to me."

"Are you going to cut it?"

"Probably."

"Not too short I hope."

Rina shrugged. Her hair was one of her best features. Her mother had raised a commotion when she'd announced her plans to cover it after marriage. Of all the religious obligations that Rina had decided to take on, the covering of her hair was the one that displeased her mother the most. But she forged ahead over her mother's protests, dipped her hair short, and hid it under a wig or scarf. Now, of course, the point was moot.

Working quickly and with self-assurance, Rina turned the wig into a fashionable style. Sarah Libba craned her neck to see the back in the mirror, then smiled.

"It's lovely" she said, patting Rina's hand.

"I've got a lot to work with," said Rina. "It's a good shaytel."

"It should be," Sarah said. "It cost nearly three hundred dollars, and that's for only twenty percent human hair."

"You'd never know."

The other woman frowned.

"Don't cut your hair short, Rina, despite what Chana tells you. She has a load of advice for everyone but herself. We had the family over for Shabbos and her kids were monsters. They broke Chaim's Transformer, and do you think she offered a word of apology?"

"Nothing, huh."

"Nothing! The boys are vilde chayas, and the girls aren't much better. For someone who runs everyone else's life, she sure doesn't do too well with her own."

Rina said nothing. She wasn't much of a gossip, not only because of the strict prohibitions against it, but because she found it personally distasteful. She preferred to keep her opinions to herself.

Sarah didn't prolong the one-way conversation. She stood up, walked over to the fulllength mirror, and preened.

"This time alone is my only respite," she said. "It makes me feel human again."

Rina nodded sympathetically.

"The kids will probably all be up when I get home," the tiny woman sighed. "And Zvi is learning late tonight. . . . I think I'll walk home very slowly. Enjoy the fresh air."

"That's a good idea," Rina said, smiling.

Sarah trudged to the door, turned the knob, straightened her stance, and left.

Alone at last, Rina. stood up, stretched, and glanced at her watch again. Her own boys were still at the Computer Club. Steve would walk them home to a waiting baby-sitter so there was no need to rush. She could take her time. Removing her shoes she rubbed her feet, slipped them into knitted socks and shuffled along the gleaming white tile. Loaded down with a bucket full of soapy water, a handful of rags, and a pail of supplies, she entered the hallway leading to the two bathrooms.

The first one had been used by Sarah Libba, who'd left it neat and orderly. The towels and sheet were compulsively folded upon the tiled counter, the bath mat draped over the rim of the bathtub, and care had been taken to remove the hairs from the comb and brush.

Rina quickly went to work, scrubbing the floor, tub, wash basin, and shower. She refilled the soap containers, the Q-tips holder, the cotton ball dispenser, recapped the toothpaste, and placed the comb in a vial of disinfectant.

Ritual Bath. Copyright © by Faye Kellerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

The Ritual Bath
The First Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel

Chapter One

"The key to a good potato kugel is good potatoes," Sarah Libba shouted over the noise of the blow dryer. "The key to a great potato kugel is the amount of oil. You have to use just enough oil to make the batter moist, plus a little excess to leak out around the cake pan and fry the edges to make the whole thing nice and crisp without being too greasy."

Rina nodded and folded a towel. If anyone would know how to cook a potato kugel, it was Sarah Libba. The woman could roast a shoe and turn it into a delicacy. But tonight Rina was too fatigued to listen with a full ear. It was already close to ten o'clock,and she still had to clean the mikvah, then grade thirty papers.

It had been a busy evening because of the bride. A lot of to-do, hand-holding, and explaining. The young girl had been very nervous, but who wouldn't be about marriage? Rivki was barely seventeen with little knowledge of the world around her. Sheltered and exquisitely shy, she'd gotten engaged to Baruch after three dates. But Rina thought it was a good match. Baruch was a good student and kind and very patient. He'd never once lost his temper while teaching Shmuel how to ride a two-wheeler. He'd be calm yet encouraging, Rina decided, and it wouldn't be long before Rivki knew the ropes just like the rest of them.

Sarah shut off the dryer, and the motor belched a final wheeze. Fluffing up her close-cropped hair, she sighed and placed a wig atop her head. The nylon tresses were ebony and long, falling past Sarah Libba's slender shoulders. She was a pretty woman with wide brown eyes that lit up a round, friendly face. And short, not more than five feet, with a slim figure that belied the fact that she'd borne four children. Meticulous in dress and habit, she worked methodically, combing and styling the artificial black strands.

"Here," Rina said. "Let me help you with the back."

Sarah smiled. "Know what inspired me to buy this shaytel?"

Rina shook her head.

"Your hair, Rina," said Sarah. "It's getting so long." "I know. Chana's already mentioned it to me."

"Are you going to cut it?"

"Probably."

"Not too short I hope."

Rina shrugged. Her hair was one of her best features. Her mother had raised a commotion when she'd announced her plans to cover it after marriage. Of all the religious obligations that Rina had decided to take on, the covering of her hair was the one that displeased her mother the most. But she forged ahead over her mother's protests, clipped her hair short, and hid it under a wig or scarf. Now, of course, the point was moot.

Working quickly and with self-assurance, Rina turned the wig into a fashionable style. Sarah Libba craned her neck to see the back in the mirror, then smiled.

"It's lovely," she said, patting Rina's hand.

"I've got a lot to work with," said Rina. "It 's a good shaytel."

"It should be," Sarah said. "It cost nearly three hundred dollars, and that 's for only twenty percent human hair."

"You'd never know."

The other woman frowned.

"Don't cut your hair short, Rina, despite what Chana tells you. She has a load of advice for everyone but herself. We had the family over for Shabbos and her kids were monsters. They broke Chaim's Transformer, and do you think she offered a word of apology?"

"Nothing, huh."

"Nothing! The boys are vilde chayas, and the girls aren't much better. For someone who runs everyone else's life, she sure doesn't do too well with her own."

Rina said nothing. She wasn 't much of a gossip, not only because of the strict prohibitions against it, but because she found it personally distasteful. She preferred to keep her opinions to herself.

Sarah didn't prolong the one-way conversation. She stood up, walked over to the full-length mirror, and preened.

"This time alone is my only respite," she said. "It makes me feel human again."

Rina nodded sympathetically.

"The kids will probably all be up when I get home," the tiny woman sighed. "And Zvi is learning late tonight ... I think I'll walk home very slowly.Enjoy the fresh air."

"That's a good idea," Rina said, smiling.

Sarah trudged to the door, turned the knob, straightened her stance, and left.

Alone at last, Rina stood up, stretched, and glanced at her watch again. Her own boys were still at the Computer Club. Steve would walk them home to a waiting baby-sitter so there was no need to rush. She could take her time. Removing her shoes, she rubbed her feet, slipped them into knitted socks and shuffled along the gleaming white tile. Loaded down with a bucket full of soapy water,a handful of rags, and a pail of supplies,she entered the hallway leading to the two bathrooms.

The first one had been used by Sarah Libba, who'd left it neat and orderly. The towels and sheet were compulsively folded upon the tiled counter, the bath mat draped over the rim of the bathtub, and care had been taken to remove the hairs from the comb and brush.

Rina quickly went to work, scrubbing the floor, tub, wash basin, and shower. She refilled the soap containers, the Q-tips holder, the cotton ball dispenser, recapped the toothpaste, and placed the comb in a vial of disinfectant. After giving the countertops a thorough going-over, she left the room, taking the garbage and the dirty laundry with her ...

The Ritual Bath
The First Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Novel
. Copyright © by Faye Kellerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 518 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 521 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2001

    Don't Miss this Winner

    I picked up 'Sanctuary' and was mesmerized immediately, however, before I got very far, my husband's daughter asked if I had read the series leading up to this title. I told her I just picked this title randomly - well let me tell you - she had every Rina/Peter novel starting with 'Ritual Bath' and lent every one of them to me. I started in order with Ritual Bath which really helps you understand this relationship (my husband's Jewish, I'm not). Ms. Kellerman has really blended mystery with love flawlessly. You will not rest until you have read every single title in order and impatiently wait for the next. Enjoy!

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2003

    Excellent

    This was the first book that I have read by Faye Kellerman and I thought that it was fantastic. I wasn't too sure that I would like it in the beginning, but it turned out great. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2001

    Great mix of mystery and Jewish History !

    I have read some of the later novels about the same pair - the detective Peter Decker and the widow Rina Lazarus. This is an excellent introduction into the lives of this pair - their backgrounds and the fascinating and illuminating story line concerning the Orthodox Jewish religion and practices. You won't be sorry - this novel will make you want to continue with the series.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 11, 2011

    Not+one+of+my+favorites...

    The+plot+was+ok.......very++predictable........there+should+have+been+a+glossary+on+the+Orthodox+Jewish+traditions.......not+being+of+the+Jewish+faith%2C+I+was+lost+and+had+no+where+to+find+the+explanation+of+the+terms+being+used.....frustrated.....+

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2011

    Good mystery

    This was a book that I enjoyed quite a bit; it was interesting to learn a lot about "religious" jews. The mystery and romance were good. too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2011

    For those who like to learn.

    I consider this an easy read that i enjoyed. But this novel is not one to recommend to those who are not frequent readers. Though, i loved learning about Judaism I found it difficult to create emotional attachments to the characters. I also did not understand the author's choice for the mivkah rapist. Here is to hoping the sequel is better.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 18, 2010

    Good Book!! Even better on the Nook

    I really enjoyed reading this on my new Nook Color. It was a great deal and I am ready to read the next in the series. I was not really familiar with the Jews tradition or the Yeddish language, but the 'lookup' feature on the Nook really helped out. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have it; it made understanding the book much easier. Loved it, loved the way it developed for the future - I can't wait to see how Peter and Rina hook up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2014

    Thriller til the end. Nice who done it

    Nice read surprise ending

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Highly recommended

    The Rina Lazarus mysteries are interesting, well-written, and offer just the right amount of background on Judaism.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2014

    Highly recommend

    I have read many of the books in this series and love the relationship differences between characters. The characters are so well written they could be family or neighbors.

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  • Posted March 8, 2014

    Not disappointed

    I've read several of the more recent books in this series so I was anxious to read the first. I definitely wasn't disappointed. This is a great series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2014

    I'm hooked!

    I love finding a bunch of characters that I care about and then reading every book available about those characters. This is the start of a series I know I am going to enjoy reading.

    I was engaged from the first couple of pages (and I have a short attention span, so it's hard to grab me at all much less right away) and I read this book faster than any in the last year because I really wanted to find out what happened to Peter and Rina.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Mystery with lots of twists! Plan on reading the whole series now!!

    This book really intrigued me and I read it over just a couple of days! I have always been curious about judaism and this was probably the most unique setting for a detective series. Detective Decker meets Rina a religious jewish woman who has some guts to help a friend who was raped outside the bath used for women to purify themselves. Both her and Decker are attracted to each other, but she loves her way of life as a jew and could never be with a goy(non jew) you learn a lot of jewish/yiddish words and meanings in this book.
    Det.Decker and Rina work together trying to solve this rape and murder that occur in "Jewish town" where a cluster of 60 families,rabbi's and schools for Jewish people live in a somewhat gated community. This small somewhat sheltered haven has been attacked in the most brutal ways. As the story evolves Decker and Rina draw closer as the rapist zones in on Rina.
    Well told story with well developed characters that you feel like you really know with a lot of plot twists that keep you guessing. I am planning on reading the 2nd book in this series right away!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2014

    Interesting "read", but....

    An "inteersting read", but not one of the better novels by Kellerman. A too complicated plot is interrupted too much and too many times by references back to exploits of her protagonists in her earlier works, but she does keep her readers guessing "who done it".

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  • Posted February 28, 2014

    Good introduction to series

    The is the first of the series, and sets the stage for Peter and Rina's relationship. I really enjoy this series, the characters all grow and develop. Good mysteries too.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2014

    Love the characters

    Can't wait to read the rest of the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2014

    I enjoyed this book.

    First time reading this author,didn't really know anything about Jewish life and rules, but got the story okay. It was a good read and I liked the people. Worth the time and money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    Meh

    Well written, but no woman should support a religion that sees a woman's natural bodily functions as so disgusting that a ritual cleansing is required. The tacit approval here should be offensive to any modern woman of any religious background.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2012

    Want to read next one

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    Wow!

    I got this as a free Friday book some time ago. It was hard to put down. I will be reading more of this series soon.

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