Reviewed as part of the First Look program.
Published by William Morrow - an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers
Faye Kellerman has written another Decker and Lazarus novel. The Burnt House is a fast-paced and brilliant novel in which Peter Decker has to deal with the aftermath of a commuter flight crashing into an L.A. apartment building. Many questions are being asked and while most people are wondering whether it was terrorism or technical failure that caused the tragedy, Decker has other priorities in mind.
Decker receives a phone call from a frantic father who wants to find his 28 year old daughter. The newspaper has her listed as being on the doomed flight but her father is adamant that though she is probably dead, she was never on that flight but was in fact killed by her husband. Decker is relieved to finally have an answer for the father when there is another body of a female - or what's left of it at least - found at the crash site that has to be the missing woman. Surprisingly, tests show that the body is not from the crash at all, but is a body that has been buried in the building for some time. The skull leaves no doubt that foul play was involved.
Now Decker has two cases to solve. Will he ever find out what happened to Roseanne Dresden so that her parents can have a sense of peace? The airline she worked for are not giving out any answers, and while questioning those who knew her, many different versions of events are coming to light. The problem is, there is no evidence to back any of it.
As for the unidentified woman. Just how do you solve a crime that could have happened anytime in the last 30 years? Especially when the remains are so fragile that even the slightest attempt to use normal methods of ID will turn the evidence to dust.
The book follows Decker as he works with his team to solve these cases while also trying to help his daughter and son-in-law as they plan to redesign and expand their house. In a twist of fate, the very man he calls in to help with the construction, Mike Hollander - an ex detective, recalls a show on TV where they used a new technology to identify some remains. There just might be a solution on the horizon!
I just loved this book. The characters are excellently written and so vivid that you forget this is a novel and the relationships between those characters are brilliantly developed. I loved the various cultures which were featured in the book. From Peter Decker and his wife Rina, the Jewish lifestyle and little sprinkles of the yiddish language. Later in the book, when the body is identified and Decker visits the parents, we are are treated to a glimpse of a native culture also. It added something special to the novel, for me at least.
One thing that I found amusing was that part way into reading this, I was under the impression that I had it all worked out, I knew the answers as the author had made the info too transparent. Imagine my surprise when further into the book - after this had happened 2 or 3 times - I realised that the author had in fact been leading me down little dead ends on a journey, which had an ending I did not see coming. That was just fantastic!
A great book that deserves to be picked up and will be available in the first week of August, so order your copy now!
Author's website: http://www.fayekellerman.net/