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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Gun Games by Faye Kellerman

Gun Games by Faye Kellerman
Published by William Morrow ISBN 978-0-06-206432-5
Hardcover, $25.99
Gun Games is the 20th mystery written by Faye Kellerman featuring LAPD detective Pete Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus. It is the first one in the series that I have read, and now I must keep my eye out for the other 19 books when I pop into the many bookstores and thrift stores I frequent.

I didn't really get to know that much about Decker and his wife because this book focused on fifteen-year-old Gabriel Whitman, a young man whose father is a mob scion, who among many other illegal activities, runs whorehouses in Nevada. Gabe's mother fled to India leaving her son behind.

Gabe is a musical prodigy and a social loner, living with the Deckers. One day he is harassed at a coffee house by some tough kids with a gun, and he manages to diffuse the situation with his extensive knowledge of guns and his ability to think quickly on his feet.

After that incident, he goes to a different coffeehouse and meets a fourteen-year-old Persian Jewish girl named Yasmine. Yasmine wants to be an opera singer, and she and Gabe bond over their love of music and soon fall in love. They must hide their relationship from her parents, who would never let her date anyone who was not Jewish.

Meanwhile, Lt. Decker and his comrades are investigating two teen suicides at the local private school, the same one that boys who harassed Gabe attend. Although they were labeled suicides, Decker believes that there is more going on, and his team noses around.

Kellerman knows how to write scenes that make your heart pound, but it is her characters, especially young Gabe and Yasmine, whom I found compelling. She really got into the heads of these two teens, and her description of them falling in love really hit their target.

She writes entire sections of their text messages to each other, the preferred manner of communication for today's teens. You could actually feel them falling in love with each other with each text, and Kellerman perfectly captures the all-consuming feelings of first love. The methods of communication may have changed over the years, but teen love is still a heady mix of hormones and emotions.

 I liked her characterization of the parents in her novel. The mother of a boy who was believed to have committed suicide was dumbfounded to discover certain things about her son. We all want to believe we know our children, but this book may disabuse you of that comforting feeling.

I recognized many of the parents in the scene at the police station. Some people like to complain about the portrayal of people of faith in media, but Kellerman did an admirable job with her depiction. The churchgoing parents of one troubled girl were the only ones who demanded that their child be held (somewhat) accountable. Decker and his wife regularly attend Jewish services, as does Yasmine's family. Religion is not a dirty word in this novel.

Gun Games successfully combines a cracker-jack mystery, albeit with some convenient coincidences, with a realistic depiction of teen love. (Although we don't want to believe fourteen and fifteen-year-olds have sex, many are. God help us.) If you are the parents of teens, this book will make you sweat.

rating 4 of 5

If you liked this, read Love You More by Lisa Gardner

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