Jupiter's Bones

Faye Kellerman, Author $25 (375p) ISBN 978-0-688-15612-1
In her 11th Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus mystery (Moon Music, etc.), Kellerman develops the theme of parent-child relationships along two fronts. Before Father Jupiter became the head of a religious cult called the Order of the Rings of God, he was a renowned astrophysicist named Dr. Emil Euler Ganz. Though Jupiter has long been out of touch with his family, when he dies mysteriously his estranged daughter, Europa, becomes a pivotal help to LAPD detective Decker's investigation. Jupiter's death looks like suicide--until the autopsy reveals small amounts of arsenic in his body. Then two of the four remaining cult leaders are killed, prompting the cops to suspect that a serial killer is lurking among the group's members. When the police and FBI try to storm the cult's compound, Brother Bob, Jupiter's old attendant, wires the buildings and threatens to blow up everyone, leaving Decker to figure out how to save the lives of the compound's 96 children. Meanwhile, because of the pressures of the case, Decker is failing to give his two teenage stepsons the attention they need to weather the upheavals of adolescence. He relies on the help of his wife, Rina, to understand the rules of the boys' Jewish orthodox upbringing, but there are aspects of their lives he must take the time to find out on his own. Kellerman writes spine-tingling suspense and defines her characters well, but the scenes in which experts lecture the cops on physics and cult psychology are overlong and sometimes superfluous. Although the Decker/Lazarus family relationship strengthens in this novel, this is not the strongest of the series. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1999
Release date: 08/01/1999
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