Review

The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights

by Faye Kellerman



Faye Kellerman appears to be taking an extended break from her
Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series. 2005's STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS was
a fine, ambitious historical thriller, while this latest book is a
collection of Kellerman's shorter works. Decker/Lazarus fans will
find cause to rejoice in the inclusion of a number of stories
featuring one or both of these characters, including two original
tales appearing for the first time in this volume. It's the expanse
of the stories contained in THE GARDEN OF EDEN AND OTHER CRIMINAL
DELIGHTS, however, that demonstrates the extent and depth of
Kellerman's craftship.

Its format is a model for how this type of book should be
exhibited. We of course have the stories, though there's also an
economic but informative introduction to each and a bibliography at
the conclusion of the book. It is the latter, perhaps, that is most
revealing. One does not immediately think of Kellerman as a short
story author, yet the publication of her work in this format ranges
from anthologies of original mystery stories to Family
Circle
magazine.

Another surprise is that not all of these stories are mysteries.
The book closes with four pieces --- three stories and an essay ---
that deal with the coming of age and the intergenerational
relationships that we call "family." The last, "Summer of My
Womanhood," is a tribute to Kellerman's father, a poignant, sweet
account of a quietly admirable man whose occupation may not have
been fulfilling but nonetheless was steadfastly performed for the
most noble of reasons. It contrasts dramatically with "Bonding" ---
a work of modern noir fiction that's as dark a tale as you're
likely to encounter --- about a father and daughter whose
relationship is decidedly...different.

While "Bonding" is closer in mood to the genre in which Kellerman
typically works, the two stories, in juxtaposition, illustrate
quite dramatically the range of mood that Kellerman is capable of
creating. That she's able to move, with deceptive simplicity, from
an account of the most base of human behavior to its greatest,
quiet triumph says much. The Decker/Lazarus stories, on the other
hand, are for the most part much lighter in tone, particularly the
title story, a tale that is a modern-day morality piece and
somewhat reminiscent of O. Henry in tone. There is also "Malibu
Dog," a personal favorite, in which a neighborhood curmudgeon with
an evil streak gets caught in his own juices.

THE GARDEN OF EDEN serves not only as a fitting introduction to
Kellerman's work to new readers, but also as an exhibit of
Kellerman's less familiar writings for her established legion of
fans. What better recommendation does one need?

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights
by Faye Kellerman

  • Publication Date: August 1, 2007
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • ISBN-10: 0446611492
  • ISBN-13: 9780446611497