With the upcoming Jan. 3, 2012 release of Gun Games, the 20th book in her Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series, Faye Kellerman continues the story of gifted 15-year-old pianist Gabriel Whitman, whom she introduced in her 2010 novel Hangman. Gabe is the son of former mob hit man Chris Donatti, who now makes his living operating several Nevada brothels. Kellerman’s readers first met this intriguing character in her novel Justice (1995).
The sudden disappearance of his mother, Terry, has left Gabe in the care of LAPD Lieutenant Peter Decker and his wife, Rina Lazarus. Gun Games finds Gabe adjusting to his new home while also forming a romantic attachment to young Yasmine Nourmand, a Persian Jew who hides their relationship from her very traditional family.
Gabe personal life intersects with Peter’s professional one when Gabe is accosted at a local Starbucks by a group of gun-toting teens led by Dylan Lashay. All are students at Bell and Wakefield, an elite private school which Gregory Hesse, an apparent suicide victim, also attended.
Doubting that her son would have shot himself, Wendy Hesse has enlisted Peter’s help in finding the real cause of Gregory’s death. A second suicide by a Bell and Wakefield student, along with the discovery that the guns that killed both teens had been stolen, leads Peter, Sergeant Marge Dunn and Detective Scott Oliver farther into the world of adolescent violence, where the most privileged teens are often the most brutal.
Many readers will be pleased that Kellerman chose to devote a further book to the son of one of her most compelling characters. Although Gabe possesses a sense of morality his father clearly lacks, he owes his skill in dealing with danger entirely to his relationship with Chris Donatti.
Chris Donatti has been aptly described by reviewer Robin Bradford as ‘Byronic and broken.” Left after his mother’s death to be raised by Mafia boss Joseph Donatti, Chris grew up in a culture of violence. Even his love for Teresa McLaughlin, the subject of Justice, could not deter him from this legacy.
Kellerman’s 2002 novel Stone Kiss provides a second glimpse into Chris’s life after Gabe’s birth and Chris’ marriage to Terry. Hangman shows the collapse of their relationship. Although often described as a sociopath, Chris nonetheless demonstrates a willingness to connect with his son that Gun Games further develops.
Faye Kellerman began her Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series with the 1986 publication of The Ritual Bath. In that novel Decker, then a Sergeant in the Los Angeles Police Department, first meets Rina Lazarus, an Orthodox Jew who is the widowed mother of two boys.
Kellerman is the wife of fellow mystery author Jonathan Kellerman. In the accompanying video from Canada’s Vision TV, she discusses factors that have influenced her writing.
FTC Full Disclosure: A review copy of this work was provided by HarperCollins.