If their immediate family isn’t igniting heartburn in LAPD’s Peter Decker and his Orthodox Jewish wife, Rina Lazarus, their extended family is. But that’s normal for a series that thrives on emotional acidity (The Forgotten, 2001, etc.). A frantic phone call from Peter’s half-brother, Rabbi Jonathan Levine, in upstate New York kick-starts their 16th case. Rabbi Levine’s brother-in-law, Ephraim, has been found murdered in a shabby New York City hotel, and his 16-year-old niece has vanished. Can Peter come to Quinton and help the stricken family? Peter’s reluctant. He knows how enthusiastic the local cops will be about offers of help from a visiting policeman. And he knows that Quinton is home to a “black hat” community of super-religious Chasids whose view of any other kind of Jew is dim indeed. But of course he goes, taking Rina with him, only to arrive inexplicably persona non grata. “Why are you here?” demands the mother of the missing girl. In the days that follow, that becomes an increasingly difficult question to answer, as Peter’s unpopularity is underscored by people taking potshots at him. Inevitably, he begins to wonder: Was Ephraim up to something reprehensible? Do the black hats hide dark secrets? Despite threats from enemies, pleas from Rina, and warnings from his own better judgment, Peter elects to stay the course, acknowledging ruefully that he has “this pathological need for closure.”
Humdrum prose, bravura storytelling: vintage Kellerman.