The Mercedes Coffin: A Decker and Lazarus Novel
Drug dealing and the underbelly of the music industry set the
stage for Faye Kellerman's new thriller, THE MERCEDES COFFIN.
Detective Peter Decker finds himself not only in the middle of a
case of murder but working simultaneously on a cold case. He also
must deal with an eccentric benefactor, the suicide of a retired
cop and a dangerous hostage situation. Luckily, he manages to make
it home every night to his family --- his teenage daughter, Hannah,
and his smart and supportive wife, Rina.
When a punk rock musician turned record producer is found dead,
shot execution style in the back of his Mercedes, reclusive
billionaire Genoa Greeves finds the crime to be all too familiar.
Fifteen years earlier, a teacher at her high school, one of the
only people to show the young genius any kindness, was killed in
exactly the same way. Greeves cannot imagine what the link was
between the teacher, Ben Little, and the musician, Primo Ekerling,
but she is willing to pay big bucks for the police to figure it
out. With Greeves's promises of money for the police department,
they reopen the Little murder case, and Decker is on the job.
At first, there seems to be nothing to connect the two men and
the two crimes. But as Decker, along with detectives Marge Dunn and
Scott Oliver, begin to work, they find more and more to suggest
that there is a connection after all. The investigation takes
Decker and the others back into the heyday of the Los Angeles punk
scene when Ekerling played with a hard-living and popular band.
Drugs, drinks and groupies kept the four band members busy until
they all moved on several years later. Going back even further,
they find a school drug ring busted by Little, ending in the
expulsion of several young men. Where are they now, and did they
know Ekerling as well?
With several well-crafted plot twists and a few shifty suspects,
Kellerman's latest is an entertaining thriller, although at times
it’s a bit flat. THE MERCEDES COFFIN is her 17th book
featuring Peter Decker, and he remains a likable and intriguing
character, even when he isn't --- as in this case --- set in the
most exciting story. Rina Lazarus and her children have very little
action in this novel, though their presence in the tale is
welcome. There are good reasons why Kellerman's books are so
popular: interesting characters, baffling crimes, good detective
work and the relationship between Decker and Lazarus, to name a
few. All of that is present here, although they are not as
compelling as they are in many of her other titles. But
dedicated readers and those new to her work will find much to
admire here as the writing is always sharp and the stories are well
THE MERCEDES COFFIN is far from her finest work (the earliest
Decker and Lazarus novels being the most dynamic and unique), but
it is still a solid effort from the talented and original Faye
Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on January 24, 2011