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JUPITER'S BONES
William Morrow & Company, (August, 1999) Hardcover, 375 pages. $25.00
ISBN 0-688-15612-6

THE RITUAL BATH
(Avon, 1986 )
REPRINT (August, 1999) $6.99

Both by Faye Kellerman

Reviewed by S. E. Warwick
(12/99) The first and most recent of Kellerman's books in the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series read well in sequence. Questions asked, but not necessarily noticed in THE RITUAL BATH, are answered in JUPITER'S BONES.

JUPITER'S BONES is the eleventh entry in the series that began with THE RITUAL BATH, the source document for each of the following books. For those who have followed Rina Lazarus, a devoutly religious Jew who blends ancient tradition with modern realties, and Peter Decker, the cop who was born a Jew but raised redneck Baptist, gong back to the beginning is startling.

I reread the paragraph where Decker refers to the Yeshiva that changed his life as "Jewtown" several times to make certain that the terminology was attributed to Decker. His initial reaction to Rina, who later becomes his wife and soulmate, is couched in base carnal terms that are incompatible with the Decker of later episodes.

There are, however, some parallels between the two books. Both THE RITUAL BATH and JUPITER'S BONES are set in religious communities, the former orthodox Jewish, the latter new-age weird. Both communities have adherents who follow a charismatic leader and have chosen to set themselves apart from general society by distinctive dress and personal habits and avoid contact with the outside world.

Members of the Yeshiva are free to leave, members of the new age group are out of range of even the most sophisticated of deprogrammers. Members of the Yeshiva learn the ancient wisdom of scripture, members of the new age group learn pure science. Both groups protect their children from the influences of the outside world in the hope that a separated environment will grow a better person.

A major departure in JUPITER'S BONES is that Rina's character is used as a condiment while Decker and Marge Dunn, who appears as Decker's partner in THE RITUAL BATH and is his subordinate in JUPITER'S BONES, are the main course. There is, as always, a healthy dollop of Decker's home life and his struggles with being a good parent with a grueling work schedule. His children are growing up and, like all parents, he wants to lock them away from the horrors that he knows life can bring.

Given current headlines and history, the plot lines of both books are all too plausible. Kellerman's deft treatment of characters and locations makes both THE RITUAL BATH and JUPITER'S BONES real enough to be part of the evening news.

If you like Faye Kellerman's work, you'll enjoy the fact that JUPITER'S BONES leaves several threads hanging to be woven into future works.

Other books in this series include: SACRED AND PROFANE, MILK AND HONEY, DAY OF ATONEMENT, FALSE PROPHET, JUSTICE, GREVIOUS SIN, and SERPENT'S TOOTH .

MOON MUSIC is not part of the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series.


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