Review

Stalker

by Faye Kellerman

Read an Excerpt



There is a comic strip that has been around forever. It's called
"Judge Parker" and it used to be about a character in the strip who
had the same name. About 20 years ago or so, though, the strip
introduced a character named Sam Driver, and since then the strip
has been pretty much about Sam and his girlfriend, now wife, Abby;
and except for an occasional appearance once every couple of years,
Judge Parker has been in chambers, so to speak. The strip probably
should be renamed "Sam Driver," but I have a feeling it will be
called "Judge Parker" until it's no longer
published.  

I think that it's possible that the same thing is happening in
STALKER, the new novel by Faye Kellerman. STALKER is labeled as "A
Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus Novel," but it isn't really. Sure, they
flit through the book here and there. Decker gets to play cavalry
and Rina almost gets carjacked, but this isn't a Decker/Lazarus
book. They, unfortunately, are not the main attraction here. No; in
STALKER Ms. Kellerman puts Cynthia Decker in the
spotlight.  

Officer Cynthia Decker, that is; she's a first year rookie who,
against the wishes of her father, Lieutenant Peter Decker, has
joined the force and wants to succeed without the benefits that
potential nepotism could bring her way. The problem is that who her
daddy is keeps getting in the way of her ability to establish a
rapport with some of her fellow officers. The result of this is
that when Cindy begins to get the sense that she is being stalked,
she is not sure if it is some sort of hazing prank or if one of her
fellow officers has a serious mad-on towards her. There is
certainly no lack of potential suspects in either category.

And that is part of what makes STALKER a bit difficult to wade
through. Now, complex plots are good; and it's also good, methinks,
to make the reader work a bit at trying to figure things out. But
there is just a bit too much going on here in addition to the
mystery. Cindy has a pretty complex life, with a father on the
force; a stepmother who is also a friend; a little sister; a
mother; a mystery; and, unfortunately, a personality that makes her
a bit hard to take: Ms. Know It All with a chip on her shoulder who
still expects the squad to come to her rescue when she gets her
posterior in the sling. I don't know if Ms. Kellerman felt some
pressure to give us a large chunk of Cindy right out of the gate,
but it was a little much. Cindy Decker might have gone down a bit
easier if we had been given a bit of her at a time.

Understand, now, this is not a bad book. It certainly starts off
well, with a young mother getting carjacked and doing exactly the
right thing by avoiding a scenario in whcih she would otherwise
wind up as Crime Scene Number 2. The investigating officers feel
that it is one of a continuing series of similar crimes. As they
begin to delve deeper into the incidents, however, they note that
they appear to be dealing with two separate sets of actions. One
involves a straight up series of carjackings, where the cowardly
punks involved target mothers with newborns. The other jackings,
however, appear to be linked to the murder of a land speculator who
left a lot of investors holding the bag.  

Cindy finds herself pursuing the carjacking end of the
investigation, in part because of her very tenuous connection to
the speculator. Her path and her father's soon cross; Lieutenant
Decker is torn between the emotions he experiences as a loving,
protective father and his duty as a superior officer. At the same
time a series of incidents directed against Cindy escalate to the
point that she is in fear for her life. She is on the one hand
afraid to tell her father, hoping to establish her independence;
yet, failing to may jeopardize both of their
investigations.  

Ms. Kellerman plays this conflict, and the others --- Cindy's
difficulties with other officers, and the perils of dipping the pen
in the office ink, so to speak --- off quite well. The problem,
however, is that STALKER ultimately demonstrates that Peter Decker
and Rina Lazarus are far more interesting as characters than Cindy
Decker is. Perhaps this will change with future books. At this
point, however, most readers familiar with this series will prefer
that in future Decker/Lazarus books Ms. Kellerman will feature
those characters more prominently and not relegate them to
secondary roles.

   ---Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub

Reviewed by on January 23, 2011

Stalker
by Faye Kellerman

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Avon
  • ISBN-10: 0380817691
  • ISBN-13: 9780380817696