Earlier this month, I prevailed upon my Facebook friends to help me decide between two books to read. One, as you see, features a dog which inherits a fortune. (Definitely a cozy.) The other is a latest entry in a series featuring Jewish cop Peter Decker and his wife Rina. (Police procedural.) When the votes were in, it was Miss Ruffles all the way.
Dogsitter Sunny McKillip is an Ohio girl transplanted to Mule Stop, Texas. She’s quickly caught up in the local culture. When one of her clients, the rich Southern Belle/Grand Dame Honeybelle Hensley dies, she and Ms. Hensley’s housekeeper and butler are tapped to take care of Miss Ruffles. At the end of one year of care – which means keeping Miss R alive and happy – all three will receive $1 million. Each.
The circumstances of Honeybelle’s death are certainly mysterious. She may have been poisoned! Then Miss Ruffles is dognapped. It’s up to Sunny to figure it all out. Quirky characters abound, everybody has a southern accent, and when a tall, handsome lawyer shows up on horseback, you just know what’s going to happen. He’s engaged, but we know that fiancee is all wrong for him. Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything is frothy, funny, and goes down easy.
On, then, to The Theory of Death. Decker, formerly of the LAPD, is now chief of police in a small town in upstate New York. The pace is slow, the crimes are small, and most of the murders are easy to solve. Still, when a student from nearby Kneed Loft College turns up in the woods naked and dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot, Decker’s not so quick to accept the obvious. Top-notch forensics lead to a determination of murder. On tap to help Decker solve the case is his wife, Rina, and a former Greenbury police intern, now Harvard law student, Tyler McAdams. More death is on the way, and the solution – when it comes – has a surprising twist.
The Theory of Death is the 23rd book in Kellerman’s series. Regular readers will be familiar with the way the Deckers’ orthodox Jewish culture serves as a backdrop and also is woven into the books, as well as the easy, loving relationship between Decker and his wife. Fans will enjoy this latest entry, as will newcomers who are not looking for edgy or hard-boiled.
My preference between the two? I wouldn’t line up to read more about Sunny McKillip, although the book was entertaining, and the Decker/Lazarus books are reliably well-plotted and about equal on the entertainment meter. So call it a draw.