You know that feeling you get when you see some old friends you haven't seen in a while and it seems like you just picked up the conversation where you left off the last time you were together. That's the feeling I had while reading Faye Kellerman's The Burnt House. It was like a family reunion. There was Peter Decker, now a Detective Lieutenant in the LAPD, and his wife Rina. Daughter Cindy (from his first marriage) was there as was Hannah, the now teenage daughter of Peter and Rina. Detectives Marge Dunn (now a Sergeant) and Scott Oliver were part of the story too. It was like old home week for me; a reunion with characters I have followed through about a dozen earlier murder mysteries in Kellerman's Peter/Rina series. And it felt so good!
As the novel opens, a commuter jet crashes into an apartment house. Out of this came the suspicion that a flight attendant listed as missing was not on the flight and might have been murdered. That possibility becomes more real as the search of the crash scene does not yield her body although she has not been seen since early on the morning the plane went down. And the search of the ruins of the building the plane hit does yield an unidentified female body. From one possible murder, we now have two murder investigations. The rest of The Burnt House covers the search for the body (and killer) of the flight attendant and the identification of what turns out to be a victim of a murder committed more than 30 years earlier and pursuit of her killer.
As in all of Kellerman's murder mysteries, Rina makes an observation that leads her detective husband to a key clue that might have been overlooked. We also get a glimpse into the Decker's family life as orthodox Jews in the San Fernando Valley. Ultimately, of course, good, solid, often painstakingly detailed police work leads to solving both cases. And, of course, it turns out that there is a connection between them although they are 2 very different cases with 2 different killers.
I admit it. I am a big fan of Faye Kellerman and the Deckers. This was a very well crafted, well written mystery. I recommend it knowing that not every reader will agree with me.