Friday, May 29, 2009

The Mercedes Coffin

I've been a fan of Faye Kellerman's "Decker and Lazarus" mystery series since I began reading mysteries about twenty years ago. Shortly after my daughter was born, I traded all of my paperback Jonathan Kellerman "Alex Delaware" novels for all of my friend Amy's "Decker and Lazarus" novels, and we thought it was a good trade, as it meant each young mother had more of the series she preferred at a time when it was often too hard for either of us to get to the library. Lately, though, Decker's story has been in a bit of a slump, while Delaware's has started to come out of one with his recent title Bones.

I still feel a surge of happiness when I see a new Decker mystery out, though, so when I found Faye's newest, The Mercedes Coffin, on my most recent library visit, I took it home and began to read, expecting the same kind of escapist pleasure I usually get from her novels, especially the ones about Peter Decker. I didn't get as much of it, though; as I kept reading, the details of who did what to whom got more and more bogged down and boring. The extended description of Decker's interview of small-time punk Travis Martel was pages too long. Marge and Oliver's repeated flights to Ohio to talk to former ne'er-do-well Darnell Arlington made me react the same way he did when he told the detectives "Next time you want to talk to me, use the phone." And hearing what all Decker had to eat in light of his constant struggle to stay kosher on the streets of LA got pretty old after the detail in which his first lunch of cottage cheese and fruit is described.

I'd have to be a detective to keep track of who was being questioned about what and what was being held back from this character for what reason. Usually that doesn't matter too much, because when the murderer is revealed--in this case, the person who put two bodies in the trunks of different Mercedes-Benzes fifteen years apart--there's usually some kind of twist. But in this case, not so much. The attempt at a twist falls kind of flat, and it comes at the expense of the only interesting character, an ex-punk band member called Liam O'Dell who calls everyone "mate" and keeps turning up at crime scenes for what turns out to be no particular reason.

I'm afraid that the story of Peter and Rina, cosy at home with their youngest daughter while the more difficult older children are out on their own, may have jumped the shark. And even while my public library is saying it doesn't have enough money to keep paying the librarians, much less buy new books, I'm not going to be buying any new books in this series.

1 comment:

Luanne said...

Oh wow - this was one of my favourite series as well... Sometimes it's just time to say The End.