Once Dr. Emil Euler Ganz was a preeminent astrophysicist with a worldrenowned reputation. But then he vanished without any warning to his family or colleagues. Fifteen years later, he reappeared as "Father Jupiter," the founder and charismatic leader of the scientific cult, The Order of the Rings. And now he's dead--a vial of sleeping pills and an empty bottle of vodka standing near his lifeless body.
Was Ganz's death an accident? Suicide? Or did someone hasten Jupiter prematurely out of this world? These are the questions LAPD Lieutenant Peter Decker and his Homicide team are determined to answer as they enter the cult's fortresslike compound. But the dead leader's four "privileged" attendants make it clear that the police are not welcome there--and the mysterious disappearance of two of the Order's members, including a child, turns an already uncomfortable situation even uglier and more incendiary. Decker will need more than the wisdom and support of his wife, Rina Lazarus, to defuse a ticking time bomb of jealousy, greed, bizarre hidden pasts, and deadly secrets--one that could explode at any time into mayhem so pernicious that it threatens to destroy a multitude of misguided lives--and scores of helpless, innocent children as well.
In her 11th Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus mystery (Moon Music, etc.), Kellerman develops the theme of parent-child relationships along two fronts. Before Father Jupiter became the head of a religious cult called the Order of the Rings of God, he was a renowned astrophysicist named Dr. Emil Euler Ganz. Though Jupiter has long been out of touch with his family, when he dies mysteriously his estranged daughter, Europa, becomes a pivotal help to LAPD detective Decker's investigation. Jupiter's death looks like suicide until the autopsy reveals small amounts of arsenic in his body. Then two of the four remaining cult leaders are killed, prompting the cops to suspect that a serial killer is lurking among the group's members. When the police and FBI try to storm the cult's compound, Brother Bob, Jupiter's old attendant, wires the buildings and threatens to blow up everyone, leaving Decker to figure out how to save the lives of the compound's 96 children. Meanwhile, because of the pressures of the case, Decker is failing to give his two teenage stepsons the attention they need to weather the upheavals of adolescence. He relies on the help of his wife, Rina, to understand the rules of the boys' Jewish orthodox upbringing, but there are aspects of their lives he must take the time to find out on his own. Kellerman writes spine-tingling suspense and defines her characters well, but the scenes in which experts lecture the cops on physics and cult psychology are overlong and sometimes superfluous. Although the Decker/Lazarus family relationship strengthens in this novel, this is not the strongest of the series. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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June 25, 2007
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