AN ABANDONED BABY.
A MISSING MOTHER.
BUT INNOCENCE HAS A FIGHTING CHANCE.
While on routine patrol, LAPD Officer Cindy Decker rescues a newborn from an alley Dumpster. But she can't call it a night until she sees the infant safe in a hospital, cared for by a professional-in this case a male nurse with soulful eyes and lots of charm. Now the hunt is on for the mother. Armed with advice from her overworked father, Detective Peter Decker, Cindy plunges into her inner-city Hollywood district, a world of helpless people and violent gangs. Pursuing each new lead batters her complex relationships and endangers her life. On one side: Decker and Decker, a brilliant but combative pair. On the other: a vicious killer ready to strike again.
Bestseller Kellerman's latest Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus novel (after 2002's Stone Kiss) will please her fans, but is unlikely to make new converts. When Cindy Decker, Peter's LAPD officer daughter (who had a big role in 2000's Stalker), finds an abandoned baby in a dumpster, she sets out to track down the developmentally disabled mother, suspecting that the child may have been the product of a rape. Her fellow officers discourage her efforts, while an attempt on her life sparks conflict with an alarmed Peter. Romance occupies Cindy, an observant Jew, as much as her professional career. Conveniently, the sexy and caring black pediatric nurse who cares for the baby turns out to be an observant Ethiopian Jew who is instantly smitten with her. Other coincidences abound, including Cindy's witnessing of a fatal hit-and-run that may be connected with the sexual assault she alone believes occurred. A minor subplot concerning the murder of stepmother Rina's grandmother in 1920s Munich simply peters out. Details of Jewish religious observance amount to superficial trappings. Cindy mentions dealing with an earlier trauma through therapy, but the author never lets the reader in on any of her sessions. The solution to the crime comes almost as an afterthought in this overlong book. Others, and Kellerman herself, have done a better job of melding a mystery plot with the challenges of maintaining Jewish identity in the modern world.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Grand Central Publishing
June 30, 2004
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Excerpt from Street Dreams by Faye Kellerman
I saw him frantically waving the white flag, a man admitting defeat. As I pulled the cruiser into one of the alley's parking spaces, blocking a silver Mercedes S500, I realized that the banner was, in fact, a napkin. He wore a solid wall of white, the hem of a long, stained apron brushing his white jeans midshin. Though it was night, I could see a face covered with moisture. Not a surprise because the air was a chilly mist: typical May-gloom weather in L.A. I radioed my whereabouts to the dispatcher and got out, my right hand on my baton, the other swinging freely at my side. The alley stank of garbage, the odor emanating from the trash bins behind the restaurant. The flies, normally shy in the dark, were having a field day.
The rear area of The Tango was illuminated by a strong yellow spotlight above the back door. The man in white was short, five-seven at the most, with a rough, tawny complexion, a black mustache, and hands flapping randomly. He was agitated, talking bullet-speed Spanish. I picked up a few words, but didn't ask him to stop and translate, because I heard the noise myself--the highpitched wails of a baby.
"Where?" I yelled over his words. "Donde?"
"Aqui, aqui!" He was pointing to an army-green Dumpster filled to the brim with blue plastic refuse bags.
"Call 911." I ran to the site and pulled out several bags, tearing one open and exposing myself to a slop of wilted salad greens, mushy vegetables, and golf balls of gray meat and congealed fat. As I sifted through the trash, my clean, pressed uniform and I became performance art, the deep blue cloth soaking up the oils and stains of previously pricey edibles. "I need help! Necesito ayuda! Ahorita. "
"Si, si!" He dashed back inside.
The crying was getting louder and that was good, but there was still no sign of the wail's origin. My heart was slamming against my chest as I sorted through the top layer of bags. The bin was deep. I needed to jump inside to remove all the bags, but I didn't want to step on anything until I had checked it out. Three men came running out of the back door.
"Escalera!"--a ladder--I barked. "Yo necisito una escalera."
One went back inside, the other two began pulling out bags.
"Careful, careful!" I screamed. "I don't know where it is!" I used the word "it" because it could have been a thrown-away kitten. When agitated, felines sound like babies. But all of us knew it wasn't a cat.
Finally, the ladder appeared and I scurried up the steps, gingerly removing enough bags until I could see the bottom, a disc of dirty metal under the beam of my flashlight. I went over legs first and, holding the rim with my hands, lowered myself to the bottom. I picked a bag at random, checked inside, then hoisted it over the top when I satisfied myself that it didn't contain the source of the noise.
Slow, Cindy, I told myself. Don't want to mess this up.
With each bag removed, I could hear myself getting closer to the sound's origin. Someone had taken the time to bury it. Fury welled inside me, but I held it at bay to do a job. At the bottom layer, I hit pay dirt--a newborn girl with the cord still attached to her navel, her face and body filthy, her eyes scrunched up, her cries strong and tearless. I yelled out for something to wrap her in, and they handed me a fresh, starched tablecloth. I wiped down the body, cleaned out the mouth and nose as best as I could, and bundled her up--umbilicus and all. I held her up so someone could take her from me. Then I hoisted myself up and out.
The man who had flagged me down offered me a wet towel. I wiped down my hands and face. I asked him his name.
"Good job, Senor Delacruz!" I smiled at him. "Buen trabajo."
The man's eyes were wet.
Moments later, the bundle was passed back to me. I felt grubby holding her, but obviously since I was the only woman in the crowd, I was supposed to know about these kinds of things.