Billionaire Genoa Greeves believes the L.A.P.D. should finally solve the fifteen-year-old execution-style murder of her favorite teacher, Bennett Little—especially now that Hollywood music producer Primo Ekerling has been slain in an eerily similar manner: shot and stuffed into the trunk of his Mercedes Benz.
Lieutenant Peter Decker resents having to commit valuable manpower to a cold case simply because a rich woman says, "Jump!" But when a primary investigator in the Little case, now retired, suspiciously commits suicide hours after he and Decker talk, the detective realizes something evil's connecting the dots in two murders separated by a decade and a half. Wife Rina Lazarus offers a cool, rational outlook, as always, despite her growing concern for her husband's welfare—as past and present collide with a vengeance, catapulting Decker ever closer to the edge of an infinite dark abyss.
About the Author
Faye Kellerman lives with her husband, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman, in Los Angeles, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Hometown:Beverly Hills, California
Date of Birth:July 31, 1952
Place of Birth:St. Louis, Missouri
Education:B.A. in Mathematics, 1974; D.D.A., 1978
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THE MERCEDES COFFIN
By FAYE KELLERMAN WILLIAM MORROW
Copyright © 2008 Faye Kellerman
All right reserved.
Chapter One TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO, they were called nerds.
Today, they're called billionaires.
Even among outcasts, Genoa Greeves suffered more than most. Saddled with a weird name-her parents' love for Italy produced two other children, Pisa and Roma-and a gawky frame, Genoa spent her adolescence in retreat. She talked if spoken to, but that was the extent of her social interaction. Her teenage years were spent in a self-imposed exile. Even the oddest of girls would have nothing to do with her, and the boys acted as if she'd been stricken by the plague. She remained an island to herself: utterly alone.
Her parents had been concerned about her isolation. They has taken her through an endless parade of shrinks who offered multiple diagnoses: depression, anxiety disorder, Asperger's syndrome, autism, schizoid personality disorder, all of the above in comorbidity. Medication was prescribed: Psychotherapy was five days a week. The shrinks said the rights things, but they couldn't change the school situation. No amount of ego bolstering or self-esteem-enhancing exercises could possibly counteract the cruelty of being so profoundly different. When she was sixteen, she fell into a deep depression. Medication began to fail. It was Genoa's firm opinion that she would have been institutionalized had it not been for two entirely unrelatedincidents.
As a woman, Genoa had definitely been born without feminine wiles, or any attributes that made girls desirable sexual beings. But if she wasn't born with the right female qualities, at least Genoa did have the extremely good fortune to be born at the right time.
That is, the computer age.
high tech and the personal computer proved to be Genoa's manna from heaven: chips and motherboards were her only friends. When she spoke to a computer-mainframes at first and then the omnipresent desktops that followed-she found at last that she and an inanimate object were communicating in a language that only the blessed few could readily understand. Technology beckoned, and she answered the summons like a siren's call. Her mind, the primary organ of her initial betrayal, became her most welcome asset.
As for her body, well, in Silicon Valley, who cared about that? The world that Genoa eventually inhabited was one of ingenuity and ideas, of bytes and megabytes and brilliance. Bodies were merely skeletons to support that great thinking machine above the neck.
But even growing up at the cutting edge of the computer age wasn't a guaranteed passport to success. Achievement was surely destined to elude Genoa had it not been for one individual-other than her parents-who believed in her.
Dr. Ben-Bennett Alston Little-was the coolest teacher in high school. His specialty was history with a strong emphasis on political science, but he had been so much more than just an educator, a guidance counselor and the boys' vice principal. Handsome, tall, and athletic, he had made the girls swoon and had garnered the boys' respect by being tough but fair. He knew everything about everything and had been universally loved by the twenty-five hundred high school students he had served. All that was good and fine, but virtually meaningless to Genoa until that fateful day when she passed him in the hallway.
He had smiled at her and said, "Hi, Genoa, how's it going?"
She had been so stunned she hadn't answered, running away, her face burning as she thought, Why would Dr. Ben know my name?
The second time she passed him, she still didn't answer back when he asked "how's it going?" but at least she didn't exactly run away. It was more like a fast step that converted into a trot one he was safely down the hall.
The third time, she looked down and mumbled something.
By the sixth time, she managed to mumble a "hi" back, although she still couldn't make eye contact without her cheeks turning bright red.
Their first, last, and only actual face-to-face conversation happened when she was a junior. Genoa had been called into his office. She had been so nervous that she felt her bladder leaking into her cotton underwear. She wore thick baggy jeans and a sweatshirt, and her frizzy hair had been pulled back into a thick, unwieldy ponytail.
"Sit down, Genoa," he told her. "How are you doing today?"
She couldn't answer. He looked serious, and she was too anxiety ridden to ask what she did wrong.
"I just wanted to tell you that we got your scores back from the PSAT."
She managed a nod, and he said, "I'm sure by now that you know that you're a phenomenal student. I'm thrilled to report that you got the highest score in the school. You got the highest score, period. A perfect 1600."
She was still too frightened to talk. Her heart was pumping out of her chest, and her face felt as if it had been burned by a thousand heat lamps. Sweat was pouring off her forehead, dripping down her nose. She quickly wiped away the drops and hoped he didn't notice. But of course, he probably did.
"Do you know how unusual that is?" Little went on.
Genoa knew it was unusual. She was painfully aware of how unusual she was.
"I just called you in today because I wanted to say congratulations in person. I expect big things from you, young lady."
Genoa had a vague recollection of muttering a thank-you.
Dr. Ben had smiled at her. It had been a big smile with big white teeth. He raked back his sandy blond hair and tried to make eye contact with her, his eyes so perfectly blue that she couldn't look at them without being breathless. He said, "People are all different, Genoa. Some are short, some are tall, some are musical, some are artistic, and the rarefied few like you are endowed with incredible brainpower. That head of yours is going to carry you though life, young lady. It's like the old tortoise and the hare story. You're going to get there, Genoa. You're going to get there, and I firmly believe you're going to surpass all your classmates because you have the one organ that can't be fixed by plastic surgery."
No comment. His words fell into dead air.
Little said, "You're going to get there, Genoa. You just have to wait for the world to catch up to you."
Dr. Ben stood up.
"Congratulations again. We at North Valley High are all very proud of you. You can tell your parents, but please keep it quiet until the official scores are mailed."
Genoa stood and nodded.
Little smiled again. "You can go now."
TEN YEARS LATER, from her cushy office on the fourteenth floor looking over Silicon Valley, about to take her morning hot cocoa, Genoa Greeves opened the San Jose Mercury News and read about Dr. Ben's horrific, execution-style homicide. If she would have been capable of crying, she would have done so. His words, the only encouraging words she had received in high school, rang through her brain.
She followed the story closely.
The articles that followed emphasized that Bennett Alston Little didn't appear to have an enemy in the world. Progress on the case, slow even in the beginning, seemed to grind to a halt six months later. There were a few "persons of interest"-it should have been "people of interest," Genoa thought-but nothing significant ever advanced the case toward conclusion. The homicide went from being a front-page story to obscurity, the single exception a note on the anniversary of the homicide. After that, the files became an ice-cold case sitting somewhere within the monolith of what was called LAPD storage.
Fifteen years came and went. And then, quite by happenstance, Genoa picked up a copy of the Los Angeles Times and read about a homicide with overtones of Dr. Ben's murder. When she saw the article, she was sitting in the president's chair, located in the CEO's office of Timespace, which was housed on the fifteen through the twentieth stories of the Greeves Building in Cupertino. But unlike Dr. Ben's murder, suspects had been arrested for this carjacking.
She wondered ...
Then she picked up the phone and called up LAPD. It took a while to get through to the right person, but when she did, she knew she was talking to someone with authority. Though Genoa didn't demand that the Little case be reopened, her intent was crystal. It was true that she had money to hire a battalion of private detectives to investigate the murder herself, but she didn't want to step on anyone's toes-and why should she shell out money when she paid an exorbitant amount of California state taxes? Surely the cash that she would have had to expend in private investigations could be put to better use in LAPD, aiding the homicide detectives in their investigation.
Lots of money, in fact, should the department decide to reopen the Ben Little homicide and actually solve it.
The inspector listened to her plaints, sounding appropriately eager and maybe just a tad sycophantic.
Genoa wanted to reopen the case to do right by Bennett Alston Little.
Genoa wanted to reopen the case because the more recent homicide brought to mind the Little case and she though about a connection.
Genoa wanted to reopen the case to bring a murderer to justice.
Genoa wanted to reopen the case to bring peace and solace to all of the victims' friends and families.
Genoa wanted to reopen the case because at this stage in her life, and sitting on 1.3 billion dollars, she could do whatever the hell she pleased.
Chapter Two THE CONVERSATION WENT like this: "The case is fifteen years old,' I say. Then Mackinerny responds, 'Strapp, I don't give a solitary fuck if it's from the Jurassic era; there's a seven-figure endowment riding on this solve, and you're going to make it happen'. I respond, 'Not a problem, sir'."
"I thought so."
Lieutenant Peter Decker regarded Strapp, who within the last ten minutes seemed to have gained a few more wrinkles from frowning. He was turning sixty this year, but still had the bull frame of a weight lifter. The man had a steel-trap mind and a matching metallic personality. "I'll do what I can, Captain."
"That's the idea, Lieutenant. You'll do what you can. I want you to handle this personally, Decker, not pass it off to someone in Homicide."
"My homicide squad is more up to date on the latest techniques and forensics. They'd probably do a better job since most of my time is spent doing psychotherapy and scheduling vacations."
"Horseshit!" Strapp rubbed his eyes. "Last summer you spent way more time in the field than in your office, judging from the amount of overtime you racked up flying Southwest to San Jose and to Santa Fe. Surely you got a couple of free trips out of that."
"We cleared two homicides."
"One of which was twenty-five years old, so this one should be a snap. We've got a hell of lot riding on this solve."
A potential seven-figure gift could lift LAPD into state of the art. Equipping the department with the newest in forensic machinery could potentially put more felons behind bars. Still, Decker has found that in the end, it was always the human factor: men and women sweating hours on end to extract confessions, noticing a detail that was overlooked, doing just one more interview.
Not that technology didn't have its place. And with a big endowment ...
Money talks, etc.
"What prompted the call?" Decker asked Strapp.
"She read about the Primo Ekerling carjacking in Hollywood and it reminded her of the unfinished business with the Little case."
"Doesn't Hollywood have a few cholos in custody for that one?"
"It does, but that's not the point. The parallels were similar enough to strike a chord in her very wealthy mind."
"What's her connection to Little other than the fact that he was her guidance counselor?"
"I think it's as simple as that. She told Mackinerny that Little was they only one who had been kind to her during her awkward years, and now she has enough money to get people to jump," Strapp said. "We were both in Foothill when the Little murder happened. From what I remember, he was a good guy."
Decker hadn't followed the details closely. He did recall that the case had occupied space in the local newspapers. "How soon do you want me on this?"
"How does yesterday sound, Lieutenant? Top priority. Got it?"
"Got it, and over and out."
* * *
THOUGHT HE COULDN'T delegate the thinking, Decker could certainly dole out the grunt work. He assigned one of the newest detectives the necessary but excruciatingly frustrating task of driving from the West Valley to downtown to pick up the Little file. In morning rush-hour traffic that was a heavy one- to tow-hour commute, depending on the amount of Sigalerts on L.A.'s arteries. In the meantime, Decker went over his current assignments, clearing most of his paperwork to devote his attention to the Little case.
The department had detectives who worked cold cases routinely, and why they didn't pick this one up was anyone's guess. Decker suspected that if West Valley got the solve, a substantial slab of the coveted cash would be directed to Strapp. Also, it was logical that the local detectives might have better luck concluding a case that happened in their own backyard.
By the time Decker could actually turn his attention to the sic boxes that had been checked out from storage, it was after six in the evening. Too many miscreants had occupied the day, and if he was to get anywhere, he needed solitude to read and think. He decided to work from his home office, and though it wasn't proper procedure to carry out official material, it happened all the time.
The drive to his house took less than fifteen minutes, down Devonshire Boulevard to his ranch-style wood-sided house. Decker's property was over a third of an acre, not nearly as big as the ranch he had owned when the Little case broke through to the media, but the space was large enough for him to spread out his workbench on a lovely spring day and play with his tools. The grounds had become a feast for the eyes since Rina had taken up gardening about two years ago. She had turned what had been a boring sheet of green lawn into lush gardens with riotous colors. Last spring, it had made the L.A. Garden list of places to visit. One entire Sunday had been taken up by troupes of gardening aficionados traipsing through his property oohing and aahing and congratulating Rina on a job well done.
Upon arriving home, Decker could smell garlic coming from the kitchen. His wife's cooking skills even surpassed her eminent prowess as a landscaper. Balancing three of the boxes while fiddling with the front door key, he managed to make an entrance, place the boxes on his dining room table, and not fall on his ass. It was a good sign.
Rina emerged from the kitchen, her hair maddeningly black without a hint of gray even though the woman was in her forties. Her lack of aging never ceased to painfully remind Decker that the was in his fifties and had a head streaked with silver. The follicles that retained the most of Decker's original carrot red coloring were embedded in his mustache. The facial hair was maybe a bit out of style, but Rina claimed it made him look very masculine and handsome, and she was the only one he was still trying to impress.
Rina wiped her hands on as dish towel. She pointed to the boxes. "What's all that about?"
"I got saddled with another cold case, only this one needs a quick solve."
"See what happens when you're too successful?"
Decker smiled. "Aren't you my good friend. What smells so good?"
"Chicken cacciatore over pasta. I've loaded it with garlic trying to stave off the current flu bug. My plan is to make it uncomfortable for anyone to get too close to us. But we'll be okay with each other because we'll both eat the same entrée,"
"What about our progeny? Will she be able to some close?"
"Hannah is irrelevant since I basically haven't seen her in three days-the consequence of a driver's license. She's at Lilly's studying for a chemistry test."
Decker brightened. "So we're all alone?"
"Yes. How about if you clear off the table and I'll open the wine. I've picked out a Sangiovese that I found on KosherWine.come."
"Sounds wonderful but just a single glass for me, darlin'. I've got to work."
"Hence the boxes."
"There are still three more in the car."
Excerpted from THE MERCEDES COFFIN by FAYE KELLERMAN
Copyright © 2008 by Faye Kellerman . Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Peter Decker gets a nudge from his boss to solve a cold case involving the execution style killing of a much loved school counselor, Dr. Ben who was stuffed in the trunk of a Mercedes. Meanwhile a former geek student that Dr. Ben encouraged while in high school has made it big. After reading about a similar slaying, she decides to see if the original case could be related and solved. She will give the financially strapped LAPD a 7 figure financial incentive to solve Dr. Ben's case, Decker who has enough to do, assigns most of the work to associates, Scott and Marge. Who had motive to kill this great guy who seemingly had not an enemy in the world is a real challenge for the detectives. He does get some help from his daughter Cindy who is also in police work. This, like all of Faye Kellerman's books is a tight, page turning read. If you like crime stories, you're going to love Faye Kellerman. She has written some twenty plus books, many of the Decker Lazarus series, and I recommend that you start with her first the Ritual Bath and read all of them.
This the first Faye Kellerman book I have read and I was very disappointed. The begining of the plot was very interesting. However, there are so many characters introduced that it is hard to keep track of them. Much of the book is devoted to the detectives discussing different motives and scenarios. Soon all of the conversation starts to sound the same. I pushed through hoping the end would justify the initial time spent. It turns out the ending was the worst part. It seemed as though the author got bored and just decided to wrap it up with out tying in many of the details. In fact, I would say that the ending was just plain lazy. Many people have written that Faye Kellerman is a great writer even though this wasn't her best work. I'll probably give her another chance but it will be awhile before I can shake the "time wasted" feeling that this book gave me.
This was my first time reading a book by this author. I'm going to read another book by this author even though this book was very diffucult to follow. I like the concept , however there were so many characters i kept finding myself going backwards in the book to keep it all together. the plot was creative but way too complicated. I am a fan of book series and repeat characters, im sure other books in this series will be great as Idid enjoy the main cast of characters.
I don't love Faye Kellerman's writing unconditionally, but with the Decker-Lazarus books she usually succeeds in elevating it beyond the pure bullets and blood mysteries.With the Merceded Coffin, Kellerman has branched out, dipping her toes in waters even further removed from the run of the mill mysteries out there (and evidently leading reviewers into mixed metaphors)! Has she bitten off more than she can chew? Perhaps, but hopefully this is just the first bite, and she will keep trying until she gets it right. There is real promise for change in this book, giving hope for the future although it is not fully realized in this work.
Below average thriller. As I approached the end of the book, I simply did not care whodunit.Our hero's family life plays too much of a role in the novel, without adding anything. His wife is too perfect. The younger daughter is billed as being withdrawn from the family, but every scene she is in puts the lie to that characterization.
Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus SeriesAs the seventeenth Faye Kellerman book in the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series, The Mercedes Coffin was a complex book that addressed the current exercise of solving of cold cases. As someone that is very interested in the Jewish faith, I was a little disappointed that we did not see more of Rina in this book.The story line has Peter investigating a 15 year old file of the murder of Dr. Ben Little, a school VIP. His department was asked to look into the case because of a request received from a very wealthy woman who promises great things as a reward. When a second victim is also found in the truck of his Mercedes, there appears to be a tie-in to the previous unsolved murder.Faye Kellerman¿s books always have twists and turns and solving this mystery is very complicated and takes thinking outside the box. You must pay attention to what every person says who is questioned. The clues are there hidden in their statements.As a fan of Faye Kellerman¿s Decker and Lazarus series, I look forward to her next book.
The Mercedes Coffin is the 17th novel Decker and Lazarus series. A fifteen year old murder case gets reopened when billionaire Genoa Greeves reads about a murder eerily like her teacher's that never got solved. She offers a very large financial incentive to solve the cold case which falls into Peter Decker's lap having just solved a major case. As with any well-written mystery, the pursuit of the cold case is tied to the current case, a few more murders and characters just trying to remain innocent unless proven otherwise.This is the first book I have ever read of Kellerman's and I have already added a few more to my wishlist. I loved that Kellerman shows us the human side of homicide detectives. Peter Decker is a family man and a man of faith, and he balances those two roles with the role of Homicide Lieutenant Detective.
Faye Kellerman¿s latest novel features the engaging Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus duo she created in The Ritual Bath. Pete¿s challenge in this novel is a fifteen year old very cold case revived by an eccentric billionaire, Genoa Greeves. Money talks, and the department snaps to attention to work on the execution-style slaying of the only teacher who gave words of encouragement to the awkward nerd during her high school years. Genoa was struck by the similarity of a current case to the one that took the life of her teacher. Initially the cases don¿t appear to be related, but as the novel progresses, the relationship between the cases grows and fades and grows as Peter, his crack team of Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver, and his daughter Cindy Kutick, follow the clues through a forest of music producers, gamblers, former detectives and rappers to solve the crime. Along the way, the detectives working the current case and Peter and his team clash over territory, with Cindy, the newly minted detective, caught in the middle.The mystery is well-crafted, but the relationships of Rina, Peter, Cindy and Hannah don¿t receive as much attention as in prior novels. Rina, in particular, has been relegated to a supportive wife role rather than the active part she has played on occasion in the past. Hannah is growing up, learning to drive and plays a minor role in the novel. Cindy receives more attention since she works with the detectives assigned to the current case and provides information to help her Dad sort out the connections with the cold case. Although the character of Genoa Greeves spurs the plot into action, she only appears a couple of times later in the book after being featured in the first chapter. Kellerman captures the sound and the rhythm of the rappers speaking in her dialogue, and differentiates the voices. The characters are very diverse and well developed, and range from a gambling ex-wife, a street kid rescued by his grandmother, a former detective that ¿eats his gun¿ and more. It¿s a great read for the beach!
Fifteen years ago, Dr Ben Little, a very popular school VP, was murdered execution style and found in the trunk of his Mercedes. The crime was never solved. One of the students whose life he touched is now a very wealthy woman. When she reads a current article in the newspaper about another man found dead in the trunk of his Mercedes, she believes the two crimes are somehow related. She offers a million dollars to the LAPD to take another look at the cold case.The story follows Lt Peter Decker who is assigned the task of finding Dr Ben¿s killer through a maze of relationships that tie known associates to both of the murdered men. The story contains a lot of layers as the puzzle pieces come together. This is the first book I¿ve read by the author. I very much appreciated the mystery aspect of the story which was well thought out, and was surprised at the outcome. I also appreciated that triggers were pointed out to us during questioning of various people, giving us a better idea of what the detective got out of it, instead of having it explained to us afterwards.
Could there possibly be a connection between two murders 15 years apart? No one seems to think so until someone offers the LAPD a seven figure endowment if they are able to solve the 15 year old cold case. Even though Peter is a lieutenant, the chief assigns him to the case. Of course his top detectives Marge & Scott are there to help him. As well as his detective daughter Cindy. The going is tough at first, yet slowly but surely Peter and his team start connecting the dots and can't believe where it leads them. Has Peter pushed it to the limit one to many times??? I'm a huge fan of this series. I've read them all from book one. I love how the characters have grown along with each book - no soap opera rapid aging syndrome here. I can remember when Peter and Rina got married and had Hannah - and now she's got her license and has become her own person. The one thing I didn't like about this book was that Rina seems to have been turned into a boring cooking, cleaning and gardening housewife. She's not as active in this investigation as she usually is. Other than that - another great book by Ms. Kellerman
The strong interpersonal relationships that characterise Faye Kellerman's Decker & Lazarus series are not simply those between the continuing characters. In this seventeenth episode Decker investigates a 15-year-old cold case involving people who are still close-knit. I enjoyed the leisurely unfolding of the police procedure but I would have liked to have seen some development of the long-running story arc. Note that this was published in the UK as A Cold Case.
I enjoyed this a lot. As always, it was a well-plotted mystery with interesting characters. I'm way behind on Rina-and- Peter books, though, and just kept getting distracted by things like "When did their baby grow up?" "When did Cindy become a cop?" "Who's that guy she's married to?"
I was so looking forward to reading this book ever since I saw it on the Early reviewer list. Boy was I wrong. A very boring mystery without any surprises and an author that doesn't let you think for yourself. There was so much dialog that made sure that every aspect of the story was spelled out that it lacked any creative imagination.I had never read this author and after reading this book I probably never will again.
I opened The Mercedes Coffin, read the first couple of pages, and sighed happily. It was like sitting down with a good friend you haven't seen in a while, or slipping on an old, comfortable shoe. Not that the story wasn't exciting; it was - very much so. But, it felt so GOOD to be reading about the Deckers again.Teacher Ben Little was killed, stuffed in the trunk of his Mercedes, and the car was abandoned in a park. His murder was never solved. When Primo Ekerling is killed the same way, fifteen years later, one of Little's students wonders if there isn't a connection. Now a billionaire, the student offers to donate lots of cash to the LAPD if they will solve both murders. The case goes to Decker. What can I say about Kellerman that hasn't already been said in many other reviews? She's a wonderful writer, easily conveying the emotions of her characters with her words. You feel Decker's concern, Rina's fear and exasperation as Decker risks his life yet again. You get a realistic view of the time it takes to solve many crimes and the tedious legwork that goes into getting that solution. In fact, this last is one of the things that really impressed me about this book. So many police procedurals have cases solved so quickly, it's a little unrealistic. Kellerman makes a point of letting us know that weeks and months are passing before we reach the final, heart-pounding scene.This book is a must read for those who have followed Peter and Rina all these years. It is also a good story for those who haven't met the Deckers yet. All in all, it's a good read for anyone who appreciates a good police procedural.
Note: This review is of a pre-publication version in the Early Reviewer program. I LOVE Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus books and have read all 16, but The Mercedes Coffin doesn¿t really belong in the series. Unlike the previous books in the series, Rina plays a minor, almost insignificant part in this novel, as do the others in the Decker/Lazarus family: Hannah, Cindy, Jacob and Samuel. The Mercedes Coffin lacks the warmth, heart and flavor of the other books in the series. It¿s missing the Orthodox Judaism theme, as well as the side plots involving the Decker/Lazarus family characters, which make these novels so appealing to me. Without them, Peter becomes just a cop pursuing a cold case involving a long, confusing list of suspects, snitches, and witnesses. It¿s not a bad story but Kellerman leaves the Decker/Lazarus fan unsatisfied. Sure hope her next book makes up for the Mercedes Coffin.
This is not one of the best one of the Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker series. In fact it might one of my least favorite. Not because its not good, but its was a mostly average read whereas much of the series has been fantastic. In this installment, Peter takes on a cold case that has been dug up due to a recent murder. His daughter, Cindy, shows up some to help, but Rina wasn't in the story much (and she was sadly missed). Most of it seems to be a pretty standard mystery, but at least the ending was exciting and yet believeable unlike many mysteries. It was okay, but I wished I could have liked it more.
Old unsolved murder cases seem to have caught the public¿s imagination during the past few years, as evidenced by the success of the television series Cold Case on CBS and a spate of recent novels by Stephen White, Edna Buchanan, and others. The genre benefits from the current forensics craze started by bestselling novelist Patricia Cornwell, in that forensics is often involved in closing old crime files. Like archaeology of a lost civilization, cold cases can reveal a lot of evidence without providing the essential pieces needed for a solid conclusion, and it is this aspect that makes them such rich pallets for the writer¿s art.Now comes Faye Kellerman. In her newest novel, The Mercedes Coffin, the 15-year-old homicide of a beloved high-school teacher is reopened at the behest of a former student who, having grown up to become a highly successful entrepreneur, offers the Los Angeles Police Department a large monetary donation on the condition that they solve the case. As cold cases go, the evidence is stale, and those involved have moved on--some to the graveyard themselves. The case lands on the desk of Lieutenant Peter Decker, a character familiar to Faye Kellerman fans. Decker and his team begin collecting as much information as they can by reviewing the case files and interviewing the variety of people involved first hand: the original detectives, the family and acquaintances of the victim, and anyone who might have had a beef with him. This, of course, is what you¿d expect from such a story, but Kellerman breathes life into the aged police-procedural genre by engaging the reader in the thinking process. She places you in the squad room, the squad car, and anyplace where the detectives mull over what they know, what they don¿t know, and their various speculations over what might have happened; thus, the story unfolds clue by clue, allowing you to solve the case with the cops. And if that isn¿t enough to hold your attention, the slew of daft characters¿the beautiful widow with a grubby past, bad-boy musicians, sleazy music producers, burnt-out cops, and an assortment of lowlifes¿compels you to turn the page to see what¿s next. (Kellerman fans should be aware, however, that although the book is billed as a Decker and Lazarus novel, the character Rina Lazarus, Decker¿s wife, has only a low-key supporting role in this go-around.)As much as I liked the story, two structural flaws annoyed me a bit: The character Genoa Greeves, the former student of the victim who induces the police to reopen the case, is described in great detail, given the whole of the first chapter, but contributes nothing of substance after that. She¿s brought back in at the middle of the story and again at the end, but manages only to stall the plot. Her function is that of a prime mover, and would have fulfilled that role better by being relegated to a brief prologue without further involvement in the story. Secondly, this is one of those novels in which the narrative ends without revealing whodunit, and is wrapped up in the last chapter with a conversation between two of the characters. I¿ve always felt that resolving a story in this way lacks skill, and I suspect the technique stems more from deadline desperation than literary considerations. Neither is a fatal flaw, however, and I expect this book to be well received. I found The Mercedes Coffin an enjoyable read.
ARC Review: A "who dunnit" without a who dunnit. After Kellerman (Faye) begins the story by telling you "who dunnit," she spends the rest of the book attempting to disprove herself. Why? A new spin on an old concept? I'm not sure, as the attempt fell flat. Saying this, however, the books does begin strong. Don't let this fool you. Saggy middle strikes again. I wanted to love this book and couldn't.
The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman is the seventeenth Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus mystery. Having read most of the preceding mysteries, this is like visiting with old friends and very enjoyable.Peter Decker is asked to investigate a fifteen year old murder that is now a cold case, that of a very popular guidance counselor from a Los Angeles school who was found in the trunk of his Mercedes shot in the back of the head execution style. Interest in the case has been raised because someone else has been murdered in the same fashion and found in the trunk of their Mercedes. Faye Kellerman always writes a well plotted, interesting mystery and The Mercedes Coffin is no exception. I enjoy reading about the Decker and Lazarus family as much as I enjoy the mystery. I did feel that Rina Lazarus did not play as important a role in this book as she has in others I¿ve read. But that said, I enjoyed The Mercedes Coffin very much and it kept me turning pages until the end. Highly recommended to mystery lovers.
This was the first Faye Kellerman book I have read and I was honestly somewhat disappointed. It was a fairly pleasant read until somewhere in the middle of the investigation when I began to find it hard to keep track of the suspects and how they related to the case. It wasn't enought to stop me from reading, but I did lose some of my interest. One of the others who have reviewed the book mentioned that the main character's wife, Rina Lazarus, played a lesser role in this book than in the past - I didn't feel she added anything to the story and the character seemed more of a distraction to me. I won't say I wouldn't read another book by this author, but I won't actively seek out another one.
The Mercedes Coffin by Faye KellermanA former high school geek, Genoa Greeves who is now a Silicon Valley multi-billionaire, opens the paper one day to read of a murder in LA that reminds her of a murder that occurred 15 years before. The previous murder had resulted in the death of the only person in all her high school years who was ever kind or encouraging to her, Dr. Ben Little. "Dr. Ben's" murder had never been solved and Genoa feels that she is now in the position to encourage the police to pursue this cold case with even greater diligence. Enter our main character, Lt. Peter Decker, along with his usual staff, Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver to attempt to solve this case and earn the big financial windfall for the department that Genoa promises. Along the way, they discover links to the recent case that had piqued Genoa's interest, a long list of suspects and some fuzzy associations between the past and present. As a frequent reader of Faye Kellerman's, I find myself annoyed lately by the author/publishers insistence on calling her novels "A Decker and Lazarus Novel". In past novels, both characters were pretty much equally involved in the cases, and while I understand that this wasn't a very realistic portrayal of a police officer and his family, it did make for better reading. I have always enjoyed Rina Lazarus Decker's role in this series. I thought I had learned a lot about orthodox Judaism, which having grown up in a tiny Montana town, I knew nothing about. Rina's role in The Ritual Bath as well as other early novels, endeared her to me as a strong minded, intelligent and pretty fearless woman. However, recently she sort of became the cookie baker, picnic maker and gardener. I understand the point the author makes, and as a stay at home wife and mom, I appreciate the importance this role has in the dynamic of her family. Her loving support is priceless to her husband and it enables him the personal stability to really pursue the bad guys with such passion. However, it doesn't really make her a very compelling literary character. It's sort of like reading about me. Yep, I'm important, but darn, I'm mundane and I'd make a pretty boring literary character. The book is overall an average effort. The plot is interesting, the cast of characters perhaps a bit too long, but since a 15 year old case is being solved, that's probably pretty realistic. Lots of fuzzy connections, and too many "maybe's" remained at the end. Although the case is concluded, it isn't really concluded in a substantially satisfying manner. With all the tentative conclusions, the ending of the book felt timid and bland.
Good Suspenseful read! Love the Peter Decker Series!!
I always love the Faye Kellerman stories with Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus! I can't say I have been disappointed in her stories!
Billionaire Genoa Greeves believes that the LAPD should solve the fifteen year old excution style murder of her favorite teacher Bennett Little-especialy now that Hollywood music producer Primo Ekerling has been slain in an eerily similar manner:shot and stuffed in the trunk of his Mercedes-Benz Lieutenant Peter Decker resents having to commit valuable manpower to a cold case simply because a rich women says "jump!" But when a primary investigator in the Little case, now retired, suspiciously commits sucide hours after he and Decker talk, the dective realizes something evil's connecting the dots in two murders separated by a decade and a half. Wife Rina Lazarus offers a cool, rational outlook, as always, despite her growing concern for her husbands welfare- as past and present collide with a vengence, catapulting Decker ever closer to the edge of an infinate dark abyss
Each book is a entity unto itself--no two are alike. I love that!!! I will be purchasing more of her books.