Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Blindman's Bluff" by Faye Kellerman

Lt. Peter Decker is called to the scene of a mass shooting in wich billionaire Guy Kaffee and his wife Gilliam have been murdered. Other dead victims include a maid and two security guards. His son Gil is also shot, but survives. It looks a lot like an inside job, so Decker and his team focus their attention on Kaffee's family and employees. Making things risky is the fact that Kaffee was very much into the idea of rehabilitating criminals, so much of his staff and security comprises of Latino gang members.

Meanwhile, Decker's wife Rina has been called on for jury duty. By chance, she becomes acquainted with blind courtroom translator Brett Harriman. He has just overheard two people in the courtroom discussing the murders. After meeting with Decker, it becomes apparent that these people know things only those who were present at the murders would know. Decker is worried that Rina has now been dragged into the mess, since she can potentially identify some of the killers.

I'm not sure what to say about Blindman's Bluff. It is well-written and reasonably well-plotted. The characters aren't explored terribly deeply, but they're all fairly likeable and don't do groan-inducingly stupid things. But this is a very dry police procedural, with limited surprises and not a lot of suspense. It was boring enough that I had no trouble putting it down when I felt like doing something else, yet interesting enough that I kept picking it up again to find out how it finished. It had a very Law & Order-style feel to it, with detectives tracking people down and questioning them, with the final chapters devoted to sessions with the main culprits and tricking them into confessing.

That's all well-and-good for an hour-long television show, but for 400-odd page novel, I like something a little more than lots of travelling around and questioning people. The plot should be more gripping. A few near-misses with a trigger-happy gang member isn't really enough. Faye Kellerman's husband is author Jonathan Kellerman, and while his novels are a formula of their own, they still provide lots of plot twists and psychological intrigue. Little of that is to be found here. The only thing worse than a bad novel is a boring one, and unfortunately, Blindman's Bluff mostly belongs in that latter category.

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