Even though he’s working an endless homicide, LAPD Lt. Peter Decker celebrates his 60th birthday by opening his house to a new child.
Believing that she’d had an abortion, Chris Donatti got into a shouting match with his wife, St. Timothy’s ER physician Teresa McLaughlin. The episode would be forgettable if the argument hadn’t erupted in violence and if Donatti, whom Decker first encountered 15 years ago, weren’t a professional killer. Now Terry, afraid to be alone with him, begs Decker to sit in on the meeting in which she announces the terms of their separation. When she disappears the next day, the case becomes Decker’s. So does the responsibility for Gabe, her 14-year-old son (though not necessarily Donatti’s), who moves into Decker’s house for just one night and then stays on at the insistence of Rina Lazarus, Decker’s wife. And so does the death of Adrianna Blanc, a pediatric nurse at St. Tim’s whose corpse is found hanging from a construction site around the corner. Adrianna’s strangling, which seems linked to every felony committed in southern California and greater Las Vegas over a two-year period, ought to absorb every ounce of Decker’s attention. But even though it leads him to a dozen blind alleys and two independent serial killers, it’s the fate of Gabe, a gifted piano prodigy who’s had to grow up awfully fast, that’s more engaging.
The mystery depends on too many coincidences to take it seriously, but Kellerman (Blindman’s Bluff, 2009, etc.) is more interested in the domestic details anyway.