Review: Gun Games by Faye Kellerman

12 Jan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary via

LAPD lieutenant detective Decker and his wife, Rina, have willingly welcomed fifteen-year-old Gabriel Whitman, the son of a troubled former friend, into their home. While the enigmatic teen seems to be adapting easily, Decker knows only too well the secrets adolescents keep—witnessed by the tragic suicide of another teen, Gregory Hesse, a student at Bell and Wakefield, one of the city’s most exclusive prep schools.

Gregory’s mother, Wendy, refuses to believe her son shot himself and convinces Decker to look deeper. What he finds disturbs him. The gun used in the tragedy was stolen—evidence that propels him to launch a full investigation with his trusted team, Sergeant Marge Dunn and Detective Scott Oliver. But the case becomes darkly complicated by the suicide of another Bell and Wakefield student—a death that leads them to uncover an especially nasty group of rich and privileged students with a predilection for guns and violence. Decker thought he understood kids, yet the closer he and his team get to the truth, the clearer it becomes that he knows very little about them, including his own charge, Gabe. The son of a gangster and an absent parent, the boy has had a life filled with too much free time, too many unexplained absences, and too little adult supervision.

Before it’s over, the case and all its terrifying ramifications will take Decker and his detectives down a dark alley of twisted allegiances and unholy alliances, culminating at a heart-stopping point of no return

I’ve been a fan of this series for many, many years. As sometimes happens with long-running series, I’ve lost track of it a bit. When I started reading this book, I was surprised at all that has happened since I last visited Peter Decker, Rina Lazarus and family. I checked and saw that I’ve missed two books, which I need to go back and fill in.

I’m impressed at how Faye Kellerman keeps shifting the focus of the series to keep it fresh,while still remaining true to the characters. There’s only so much character growth any one or two characters can reasonably have! Over the course of 20 books, the focus has gone from religious, professional, personal, and family. She’s looked at other family members (most memorably, Decker’s daughter, who is also a police officer). Here, the focus is on a foster child, one that came to live with the family in one of the books that I missed.

I really liked Gabriel, who was simultaneously very, very young (when it comes to his love life) and much, much older (when it comes to his music, and to knowledge of the seamy side of the world.) He’s Romeo to a very naive Juliet. He manages to stumble into a situation that Decker is investigating, and it’s a good thing he has the skills to navigate some very risky waters.

I found the look into the lives of the privileged teens he crosses paths with to be terrifying.  I’m not looking forward to my daughter starting high school next year, even if her world will be fairly different.

The mystery itself is good, but not outstanding. What I enjoyed was the quick visit with all the characters I know so well, and getting to know a few more even better.

There is no need to have read the full list of previous books in the series to enjoy this one. I haven’t read Hangman, the previous book, but suspect the context from that one might be nice, and there are clearly spoilers here for the events there. I’ll go back and read it anyway.

I received Gun Games for review from the publisher.  Thank you, Harper Collins.

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Posted by on January 12, 2012 in books, reviews


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