Kellerman puts her LAPD detectives to the test in a most unusual outing, even by West Coast standards.
Although billed as another Decker/Lazarus novel, Kellerman’s story is less about them and more about the detective team of Marge Dunn and Scott Oliver, who work with Decker. Decker’s wife, the Lazarus of the pair, plays a peripheral and virtually negligible role in this story, which limps along on a very silly premise. When neighbors in an ordinary apartment complex complain, responding police find what they believe to be a big cat and some very bad smells coming from one of the apartments. After breaking in, they discover the decaying body of a reclusive multimillionaire, guarded by his Siberian tiger. But that’s not all they uncover; as the mystery deepens, they discern that their dead man suffered from both a bashed-in head and a gunshot wound. In addition to being doubly dead, he was also doubly eccentric in a not-so-good way, as the detective team finds when they delve into Hobart Penny’s personal life. An ex-wife, a couple of grown children, a wildlife sanctuary director, prissy next-door neighbors, a belligerent super and assorted ladies of ill-repute add to the growing list of suspects in the case. In the meantime, the author supplements the murder with a side story that grew out of her previous work and involves a gifted, musical teen who has become Decker’s foster son and the love the boy has for a girl he can’t possess. The sappy romance adds nothing to the storyline, and Kellerman’s main tale, with lions and tigers and bears, is often so silly that readers will have to suspend their incredulity in order to go the distance.
Except for the snappy dialogue and excellent grasp of police procedure, this Kellerman vehicle has little to redeem the hard-to-swallow plot, extraneous and unremarkable love story, and odd fashion minutia, which seems designed to function mainly as page filler.