After they became empty nesters, Detective Peter Decker and his wife Rina moved from Los Angeles to upstate Greenbury, New York - where Peter now works for the Greenbury Police Department. It's been a quiet summer in Greenbury, crime-wise, until Rina discovers a skeletal hand near the Bogat Hiking Trail.
The unearthed remains are traced to Lawrence/Lorraine Pettigrew, a former student of Morse McKinley College - one of the schools in the local 'Five Colleges of Upstate Consortium.' The transgender woman left school seven years ago to transition, and disappeared some time afterwards. As the police continue to dig around the Bogat Trail they discover the remains of two more college girls that were reported missing. Moreover, a young waitress has also vanished. It seems clear that a serial killer is at work in Greensbury.
To start their investigation, Peter and his partner, Harvard law student Tyler McAdams, make a list of the girls' boyfriends as well as people - teachers, students, bartenders, etc. - who had contact with the victims. These people provide a motley crew of 'persons of interest', ranging from druggies to a professor who actively supports alternative lifestyles. Questioning the possible suspects reveals some suspicious behavior, but nothing definite. Then Rina makes a suggestion, the couple fly off to California, and there's a break in the case.
As the story unfolds, Rina - who's an 'unofficial detective' in the investigation - is harassed by a suspect. This brings a couple of favorite characters into the story: the gangster Chris Donatti (who's indebted to the Deckers) and former L.A. Detective Scott Oliver come to Greensbury to look out for Rina - not that she needs protection. Rina has a gun and she knows how to use it....which she demonstrates quite effectively. Another favorite character that helps out is L.A. Detective Marge Dunn, who lends a hand with the California end of things. The scenes with Donatti, who shows up with an attitude and an arsenal, are quite funny and add a touch of humor to the book.
In addition to assisting with the case, Rina works at Hillel; makes tasty kosher meals; performs the rituals for the Jewish Sabbath; gets ready for the upcoming Jewish holidays; snuggles with her husband; visits her children and grandchildren; and so on. Rina's a trooper!
The police investigation at the heart of the story is interesting, but there are so many two-dimensional characters that it's hard to remember who's who. In addition, the 'solution' to the case is hard to buy and not satisfying.
There are so many people who committed and/or covered up the crimes that it's impossible to believe all members of this cabal could 'cooperate' and keep mum.....especially once the police get involved. Bottom line: the ending is just not credible (IMO).
END SPOILER ALERT
The end of the story is so abrupt that I actually thought I missed a section.....but I didn't. I'm not sure what the author's intention is here - but I'm not a fan of incomplete or cliffhanger endings.
Other than the finale, I liked the book and enjoyed the 'personal touches' like the Deckers' Jewish lifestyle; Tyler's being accepted as 'family' by the Decker clan; Marge buying brand new pots and dishes to prepare a kosher meal for the Deckers; Rina and Peter arguing over a TV show (I took Rina's side); etc.
I'd recommend the book to fans of the Peter Decker series.
Rating: 3 stars