Retired from the LAPD to be closer to his kids on the East Coast, Detective Peter Decker (The Beast, 2013, etc.), now attached to the Greenbury Police Department, finds just as many felonies in the Five Colleges region of upstate New York.
On the whole, the theft of a pair of Tiffany windows from the Bergman family crypt at the local cemetery looks like a professional job. Whoever stole the summer and autumn panels clearly took them one at a time, replacing them with fakes in preparation for stealing winter and spring later on. The fakes themselves, however, are amateurish; even Decker, no art expert, spots one of them as a likely counterfeit before Bergman descendant Ken Sobel and his son-in-law, gallery owner Max Stewart, confirm his suspicions. It’s not at all obvious who pulled off the switch, but it’s practically certain that the forger was Littleton College art student Angeline Moreau. Sadly, it’s too late to question Angeline, who’s been brutally murdered. So Decker and his rookie sidekick, insufferable Harvard grad Tyler McAdams, turn their attention to identifying her accomplice as Tufts postgraduate fellow John Latham, and soon enough, he’s murdered too. Throughout the complications that follow—which will come to include an intense rivalry among competing art galleries, the unsolved 30-year-old theft of some Russian mosaics, attempts on the two cops’ lives, enemy agents and government officials bent on keeping everything quiet—the presence of the initially conceited and clueless McAdams gives Decker an excuse for explaining everything from elementary police procedure to the kiddush blessing over the wine. That’s a perfect fit with Kellerman’s relentlessly didactic predilections, though longtime fans of the series may grow restless.
It’s nice to see small-town homicide get Decker’s pulse pounding again, though the investigation is routine and the resolution, supplied mostly by Rina Lazarus, Decker’s wife, is from hunger.