I didn't read the last couple crime novels by Faye Kellerman, so it was a treat to meet up with her characters again in The Mercedes Coffin. I always enjoyed reading about Lt. Peter Decker, his wife, Rina Lazarus, and his daughters, Cindy and Hannah. It's unfortunate that the family life was the best part of this crime novel. I had high hopes for this book because of the cold case aspect, but the book seemed to drag on and on.
When Genoa Greeves, a billionaire, read about a homicide in Los Angeles, it reminded her of the murder fifteen years earlier of Dr. Ben Little, the only teacher who ever gave her a word of encouragement. He was shot execution-style, and left in the trunk of his Mercedes in a deserted parking lot. No killer was ever found. Now that a record producer was found in the trunk of his Mercedes, it stirred up her memories. She approached the LAPD, offering money for them to reopen the case on Dr. Little.
Peter Decker is assigned the case, and pulls in his old team, Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver, to investigate with him. He even uses his daughter, Cindy, who is now a cop in Hollywood, where the most recent body was found. The case takes them into the world of music and lies.
Decker is getting older, and so is this series. Scenes and conversations were very drawn out. If Kellerman wanted to show that interrogations and hostage situations are lengthy processes, she succeeded. She didn't need to make them quite as tedious as they are in this book.
Peter Decker does make a statement, though, that rings true for readers of cold case books. He says, "It's the ghosts of murder past who stirred things up. I'm just the translator for the dead." It's too bad that the rest of the book wasn't as interesting as this comment. As much as I like Peter Decker, perhaps it's time he, and the series, were retired.
Faye Kellerman's website is www.fayekellerman.net
The Mercedes Coffin by Faye Kellerman. William Morrow, ©2008. ISBN 9780061227332 (hardcover), 367p.
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