“ ‘You still mad at me?‘ Decker said.
Rina responded in a quiet voice, ‘Shalom bayis.“
Literally translated, it meant ‘peace in the house‘. But Decker knew it meant ‘I’m still pissed as hell, but I don’t want to spoil Shabbos.‘ “ p 234f
Peace in the house is somewhat at stake in this third case for cop Pete Decker and his wife-to-be Rina Lazarus. He wants her to finally come back from New York to Los Angeles to settle matters with him. Not only has she been evasive about their future, but as of late, she seems to be perturbed. And all the while, he tries to help an ex-army buddy accused of rape AND find out what happened with a little toddler he found at the dead of night wandering about on her own. The girl’s pajamas are soaked in blood, and when nobody reports her missing, Decker knows that something just does not smell good someplace, and most probably literally. Why else would any parent not look for their obviously well-cared for, not disturbed infant?
The book picks up about a year after the last one ended, with Rina both making a point of deciding for Peter AND leaving for New York, to take the pressure off both of them, the pressure that derived from her being an orthodox jew while he just started to discover Judaism for himself. The couple met first on a case in book #1, about two years ago. Each book may be read separately as author Faye Kellerman sums up what might be important, still leaving enough new details to be discovered along the way. “Milk and honey“ comes up with two cases to solve (well, and Rina’s issue) and has Pete and his colleagues delve deep into family matters, into love, hate, guilt. Unlike the first two books, this one does not dwell into a particular aspect of orthodox living, but rather into universal questions of morale, responsability and guilt – and how to cope with it and yourself, time and again. Fortunately, Pete has his Rabbi to discuss.
I liked the book better than number 2, but still less than the first – the tone is more positive than number 2 as for the near future, but still somewhat depressing about humanity in general – though not unrealistic, I have to admit. Some of the family structure of the Howards and the Darcys wore me out a little bit, but I liked how Pete’s partner Marge Dunn played a bigger part again. While so far Rina's attitude towards religion set very high standards and often discouraged Peter, I quite appreciated the development portrayed here: the situations in New York and in Los Angeles present the couple with challenges both to question their own beliefs and morale while at the same time finding new comfort along the way. I found that both encouraging and very human.
For those sensitive about it, no crime against children is being portrayed - and Kellerman is never overly graphic anyway; this is not the type of book where you read along while some ghastly crime happens.