Friday, December 01, 2006

THE GARDEN OF EDEN AND OTHER CRIMINAL DELIGHTS

The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal DelightsNot everything written by well-established authors should be published. Never was this truer than when Stephen King came out with From A Buick 8 and the horrible Dreamcatcher.

Faye Kellerman has been delighting readers with her Decker/Lazzarus crime fiction novels for many years now, and most will probably snap up The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights, a mish-mash collection of short stories (and a few inspired by and coauthored with some of Kellerman’s close family members).

Short story fans will be as equally delighted and chagrined as Kellerman’s fan-base, as this collection runs from quite good to downright terrible. The most notable are the final two stories, "Mummy and Jack" and "Holy Water."

"Mummy and Jack" was a coauthored piece with Kellerman’s older son Jesse. Wickedly dark in tone, the story takes the Oedipus complex a bit over the edge and plops us uncomfortably in the middle of adult son Jack’s desire to please his mother by any means necessary ...including killing.

"Holy Water," the longest story in the collection, is a hilarious romp via a Rabbi who’s hijacked by some prosperous thugs that demand the formula for a rival cola company’s soda. Since the Rabbi confirmed the ingredients for kosher reasons, he’s on their list of men whom they need to "talk to." But the Rabbi is smarter than the thugs and twists their plans until even the bad guys come around to his way of thinking.

But from here the stories take a serious nosedive. Several of the Decker/Lazzarus stories fall flat or conclude in very ho-hum fashion. One story that focuses on Decker and his now grown daughter who’s entering the police field, goes absolutely nowhere while trying to show the strains of the father/daughter relationship during an accidental shooting. Two stories were cowritten by Kellerman’s other children and they read, unfortunately, more like poorly put together streams of consciousness.

If it weren’t for "Holy Water" and "Mummy and Jack," this collection would be easily forgettable. But the big question: Is it worth the price of purchase just for those two stories? That probably depends on how much of a Faye Kellerman fan you are.


Author Faye Kellerman
Publisher: Time Warner Audiobooks; Hachette Audio
Copyright: August 2006
Genre: Short story; fiction
ISBN: 1-59483-215-3
Brief Description of the Book: Abridged on 5 Audio CDs
Where Book is Available for Purchase: Booksense.com

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