Thriller and crime fan Samantha Bartlett reviews two recent crime novels – one with a ghostly feel.

MurderMurder 101

Faye Kellerman

Harper Collins

ISBN: 9780062326355

Samantha Bartlett

Faye Kellerman has kept readers engaged with the life and crimes of Detective Peter Decker for 28 years in more than 20 books, each one a best-seller.

Now in his 60s, Decker has retired from the LAPD and moved to the police department of university town Greenbury in upstate New York, where he plans to spend his time breaking up drunken student brawls and rescuing cats from trees.

But the theft of Tiffany panels soon leads to two brutal murders and with a green partner with attitude problems and no other real detectives to back him up, Decker is forced to rope in his long-suffering wife Rina to help with the investigation.

Murder 101 will be satisfying for Decker fans, but not ideal to introduce his character and complex relationships to a first-time reader. If you’re keen to explore the series, start earlier and work your way towards this book – it’ll make a lot more sense that way.

Her Last Whisperwhisper

Karen Robards

Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 978-0-8041-7826-6

Samantha Bartlett

This is the third in the Dr Charlotte Stone series and this time she’s on the trail of the “Cinderella Killer”, a charming psychopath who kills young women and may have taken FBI agent Lena Kaminsky’s sister.

Stone has a very clinical outlook and is an expert in the psychology of serial killers, but at the same time she is a ghost whisperer and has a spirit love interest in Michael Garland – who may or may not himself be a serial killer.

While Robards has clearly developed a huge following for the Stone series, it’s difficult to reconcile a paranormal mystery with a serial killer plot line, and a “ghost lover” competing with a flesh and blood male and causing such emotional angst. It feels like there are two books fighting in one dust jacket and neither of them is winning. – Samantha Bartlett

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