Normally, Faye Kellerman’s Decker/Lazarus – series are police procedural. “Stalker“ comes as a veritable thriller and I am talking about gripping, evil, conspiracy, interchanging fast-paced action with dark foreboding. On the one hand, there is Peter Decker, LAPD-Lieutenant, investigating a series of car jackings with his team. The cases are somewhat off, from taking easy prey on mothers with young children to steal their cars to a small number of cases gone awfully wrong. On the other hand, there is Cindy Decker, rookie cop with LAPD and Peter’s 25-year-old daughter. Her big mouth and ivy league education do not make her live with her colleagues easy. But then, some of the things happening to her are decidedly off. She may have been absent-minded enough to put the photo with her 6-year-old sister Hannah away from its usual location. But did she also re-arrange her clothes? If only it had stayed that simple.
Despite of being number 12 in a series, this one might be read standalone, which is also because the main character is Cindy, not that much her father as in the previous books (we saw her in some amateur investigations in number 6, “Grievous Sin“, but rather as a side kick). It allows for a change of position, younger, female, beginner, which also makes her the potential victim of the namegiving stalker – one of those crimes which constantly keep the victim wondering whether something is really happening and when the next blow might be expected. And those blows will come, and at what a pace! Fortunately, the author has not forgotten to also include the other characters quite a lot in this one book (some of the series have one or the other seem like on vacation): not only Peter, but his second wife Rina, formerly Lazarus, Cindy’s stepmother, Peter’s former partner Marge, her present partner Scott Oliver, even something from Cindy’s step-brothers, Rina‘s sons from her first marriage, and Peter’s and Rina’s young daughter Hannah. So this is really a book for old and new fans.
I admit that the explanation for the criminal activity is, although plausible and realistic in its essentials, a bit over-constructed (lots of persons, lot of interdependencies, lots of different reasons/story lines leading to the grand finale). But who cares when you just cannot put down the book for quite a number of pages? I admit that after book number 11 (the one before) which I rated with 4 stars I was not sure how far I should be continuing in the series. With this one, Faye Kellerman really got to me again! Solid 5 stars for a completely new turn in the series without losing on its strengths – the characters.
Oh, and for those sensitive about it: thriller yes, but no pedophiles, sex-criminals, slashers (unless you count a couch).