Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair
While Rina is hiking, she finds some bones which turn out to be human and have been in the ground for a few years. While investigators are combing the area looking for evidence, they find the remains of a couple more bodies which appear to have been buried within a couple of years of the first set of bones. All of the bodies were buried before the hiking trail was opened. Since the remains were found very close to each other and had been buried within a few years of each other, Decker is left with trying to determine if what he is dealing with is a serial killer in the past, or someone who is still active but who was forced to move his burial site after the trail opened. Two things shake up the investigation. The first is that it turns out that one of the potential victims may have escaped and is still alive. If this is true, then Decker needs to find her. The second thing is one of the current college students goes missing. As is often the case with college students, the frantic parents aren’t aware of some of their daughter’s activities making it harder for Decker to track her movements. Even though it is several years later, could this girl’s disappearance be linked to the bones found along the trail?
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I enjoyed this book. The case was interesting and took some unexpected turns. There were a couple of odd things though. A few times in the book the characters shifted where they were with no transition at all. For instance, on one page they are having dinner with their friends in California, and the next page they are back at their day-to-day lives in New York. And then there is the ending. I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll leave it with saying that I was not satisfied with the ending. Not at all. It will be interesting to see where the next book begins.
Bone Box is the twenty-fourth book in the Decker/Lazarus series by Faye Kellerman. While the main characters are the same, nearly everything else in the series has shifted over the last few books. Some of those changes are expected, some are more puzzling.
The most obvious change is that Decker and Lazarus moved from California to upper state New York a few books ago. The move was logical as it puts them closer to one of their sons and his family and allows them to lead a slower paced life. Another logical change is the shift in characters. Their children are grown so readers don’t see them as much. Kellerman has filled that gap by having Decker’s partner/intern/law student from Harvard, become almost an adopted son. In this book Tyler McAdams is a major character.
The two glaring shifts in the series that are a little harder to understand is Rina Lazarus’s role. The earlier books tended to have two distinct plots, one with Rina and one with Decker. Often along the way the two stories merged with Decker’s part being the police procedural and Rina’s being the “human interest” side. Now, the books are basically all police procedurals featuring Decker’s cases. In this book, Rina’s role is reduced to cooking-for McAdams and Decker and also copious quantities of food for the Jewish holiday parties she has volunteered to host for the college students.
The other shift, one that I find most puzzling and one that makes me sad is that in the beginning and through most of the “California” books, Rina’s Orthodox Judaism played a huge role in the book. It set the tone of the books and lent a background story to how the characters interacted not only with each other, but how they viewed society in general. It was the play between Decker’s very secular view of things and Rina’s very religious view that made the books captivating. Now? It seems that Rina’s religion is all about cooking and jokes about McAdams joining the “tribe.” The Jewish rituals seem more forced than part of the flow of their lives.
In spite of the odd ending and the shifts in the series, I still love the books but I look on them differently now.