Thursday, September 30, 2010

Blindman's Bluff

There's something nostalgic about Blindman's Bluff.  It's Faye Kellerman's 18th Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus Decker novel, and it finally struck me that it's been more than 15 years since I picked up The Ritual Bath while on a layover in Pittsburgh, devoured it, and quickly read the three other books available at that point.  

Back then, Rina was a 20-something widow with two small boys; Peter was a police detective in his late 30s, divorced with a teenage daughter.  We've seen them age in approximately real time, marry, and have a daughter who's now sixteen.  Rina's sons are nearly grown, one in college and the other engaged to a fellow med student, and Peter's daughter is married and after nearly a decade as a police officer has been promoted to detective.  Peter's colleagues are aging too, and the book has a bit of a 'changing of the guard' feel.   I suspect that Peter will retire around book 20, and Detective Cindy Decker Kutiel will follow her father's footsteps into homicide.

That's in the future - in the present, we have the particularly brutal murders of a real estate developer, his wife, and a member of their household staff and the serious wounding of one of their sons.  While Peter deals with department brass and press attention, Rina is serving on a criminal jury.  During a break, one of the court translators (the blind man of the title) asks her to describe two men he's eavesdropping on.  It's a bit too coincidental that they're discussing Peter's case, but Kellerman manages to prevent this from sinking the plot.   She does this by both traditional methods (multiple suspects with multiple motives) and by making the translator seem a little creepy, and maybe a little too interested in Rina.  

Blindman's Bluff is an average entry in the Decker/Lazarus series.  That's actually a complement, because I've enjoyed every one I've read to date.  Peter (with the help of his former partner Marge Dunn and her partner Scott Oliver) solves the case through a combination of plodding and luck, and using only clues which the reader sees.  Maybe Kellerman could have mentioned age a bit less, and I would have liked a phone call from one or both of Rina's sons during the family scenes.  Still, it's an enjoyable, well-paced novel which left me ready for book #19.

Sizzling Sixteen

Stephanie Plum considers herself lucky - she has a job which doesn't require pantyhose, an off-and-on relationship with Joe Morelli, and something inexplicable with Carlos "Ranger" Manoso.  And, thanks to her Uncle Pip, she has a lucky bottle - it's red and looks like a handblown beer bottle, and at least Uncle Pip didn't leave her his false teeth.  Grandma Mazur got those, of course.

Steph isn't feeling very lucky, despite the bottle, as Sizzling Sixteen starts.  Her cousin/boss Vinnie has been kidnapped, and since Vinnie's father-in-law Harry the Hammer has sold the bail bonds business to venture capitalists, if they don't find Vinnie, Steph, Lula, and Connie will all be unemployed.   This isn't one of Evanovich's more tightly plotted books, but it's fun.  There's the usual minor FTA (in this case an octogenarian polygamist), a crazy Lula diet (thankfully dropped by the middle of the book), Car Death, an encounter with Ranger, and an argument with Joe (over peanut butter) which leads to Steph doing the unthinkable and actually having groceries in her fridge.  All this (and cameos by Joyce Barnhardt and Moon Man Dunphy - who's running Trenton's largest HobbitCon out of a decrepit RV) floats around Steph, Lula, and Connie rescuing Vinnie (in his underwear), losing him again, and using illicit means and a garage sale (seriously) to free him again.  I'm not sure, really, how to review any books in this series, but how can you not love a book that includes Connie's talent for stink bombs and hundreds of Hobbits storming a mobster's mansion?