The Burnt House (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #16)

The Burnt House (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #16)

by Faye Kellerman

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At 8:15 A.M., a small commuter plane carrying forty-seven passengers crashes into an apartment building in Granada Hills, California. Among the dead inside the plane's charred and twisted wreckage are the unidentified bodies of four extra travelers. And there's no sign of an airline employee whose name was on the passengers list.

L.A.P.D. Detective Peter Decker and his wife, Rina, areprofoundly shaken by this terrible "accident" that has occurred frighteningly close to their daughter's school. And an irate call from the unaccounted-for flight attendant's stepfather further tangles an already twisted mystery. The man insists twenty-eight-year-old Roseanne Dresden was never on the doomed flight, but was probably murdered by her abusive, unfaithful husband—a revelation that propels Decker down a path of tragic history and deadly lies toward an unimaginable evil that will challenge his and Rina's cherished beliefs about guilt and innocence and justice.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062088192
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/27/2012
Series: Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series , #16
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 129,963
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Faye Kellerman lives with her husband, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman, in Los Angeles, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Beverly Hills, California

Date of Birth:

July 31, 1952

Place of Birth:

St. Louis, Missouri


B.A. in Mathematics, 1974; D.D.A., 1978

Read an Excerpt

The Burnt House
A Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus Novel

Chapter One

The cereal spoon stopped midair. Rina turned to her husband. "What was that?"

"I don't know." The lights flickered and died along with the TV, the refrigerator, and probably everything in the house electrical. Decker reached over and picked up the portable phone. He punched in one of the landlines but got no response.

Rina lowered the spoon into the cereal bowl. "Dead?"

"Yep." Decker flicked the light switch on and off, a futile gesture of hope. It was eight in the morning and the kitchen was bathed in eastern light that didn't require electrical augmentation. "Something blew. Probably a major transformer." He frowned. "That shouldn't affect the phone lines, though." He pulled out his cell and tried to contact someone on a landline at work. With no response coming from the other end, Decker knew that the damage was widespread.

The Los Angeles Police Department's West Valley substation—Devonshire Division in another age—was a few miles away from where Decker lived. When this kind of thing happened, the place was a madhouse, a switchboard of panicked people with emergency lines ringing off the hook. "I should go to work."

"You didn't eat," Rina said.

"I'll grab something from the machines."

"Peter, if it's just a transformer, there isn't anything you can do about it. You'll probably have a long day. I think you should fuel up."

There was logic to that. Decker sat back down and poured some skim milk into his cereal bowl, already laden with strawberries and bananas. "I suppose the squad room can wait anotherfive minutes." They ate in silence for two bites. He noticed the wrinkle in Rina's brow. "You're concerned about Hannah."

"A little."

"I'll stop by the school on my way to work."

"I'd appreciate it." Rina tried to think of something to say to distract both of them. The default conversation was the kids. "Cindy called yesterday. She and Koby are coming over Friday night for dinner."

"Great." A pause as Decker finished his cereal. "How are the boys?"

"I talked to Sammy yesterday. He's fine. Jacob only calls before Shabbos or if he's upset. Since he hasn't called, I'm assuming everything's okay."

Decker nodded, although his mind was racing through emergency procedure. He stood and tried the land phone again. The machine was still lifeless. "Is the den computer still plugged into a battery pack?"

"I think so."

"Let me try something." Decker unplugged the small, portable, kitchen TV and lugged it into the back den. Rina followed and watched her husband drop to the floor and insert the electrical cord into one of the empty sockets. The seven-inch screen sprang to life. Decker tried one of the local stations. The TV was color but showed only images in shades of black and gray.

"What are we looking at?" Rina asked.

"A fire." As if to underscore Decker's pronouncement, a billowing cloud of orange flames materialized. His cell jumped to life. "Decker."

"Strapp here. Where are you?"

For the captain to be calling him on his cell, something was really wrong. "At home. I'm just about to leave—"

"Don't come into the station. We've got a dire situation. Plane crash on Seacrest Drive between Hobart and Macon—"

"Good Lord—"

"What?" Rina asked.

Frantically, Decker waved her off.

"Is it Hannah?"

Decker shook his head while trying to digest the captain's words. ". . . took down an apartment building. A few firefighters are already at the scene, but the local units are going to need reinforcements ASAP. All units are being directed to Seacrest and Belarose. We're planning tactical."

"I'm ten minutes away."

"You got a roof light in your vehicle?"


"Use it!" The captain hung up.

"What?" Rina was pale.

"Plane crash—"

"Oh my God!" Rina gasped.

"It landed on an apartment—" Decker stopped talking, his ears picking up the wail of the background sirens. He glanced back at the TV screen.



"Where on Seacrest?"

"Between Hobart and Macon."

"Peter, that's about five minutes from Hannah's school!"

"Go get the Volvo. I'll convoy you over with the siren in the unmarked and then go out to the scene."

Rina's eyes were still glued to the TV screen. Unceremoniously, Decker turned it off. "You can listen on the radio. Let's go!"

Rina snapped out of her stupor, realizing the extent of what was to follow. A very long day followed by a very, very long night. She wasn't going to see him for the next twenty-four hours. But unlike the people on the plane, she would see him again. Her heart started racing, her throat clogged up with emotions, but words escaped her.

Once they were outside, she found her voice. "Be careful, Peter."

He nodded, but he wasn't paying attention. He opened the car door for her and she slipped inside. "I love you."

"Love you, too. And yes, I will be careful."

"Thank you. I didn't think you heard me."

"Normally, I probably wouldn't have, but right now I could hear a butterfly. That's what happens when overdrive kicks in. All senses suddenly warp speed to hyperalert."

Like most private schools, Beth Jacob Hebrew Academy High School—grades nine through twelve—had recently flexed its flaccid muscles against its overindulged adolescent inhabitants. Teachers, tired of beeps, whistles, and ring tones interrupting lessons, complained to the administration that in turn passed a draconian law—according to fourteen-year-old Hannah Decker—that prohibited the possession of any electronic gadgets, the sole exception being calculators for advanced math. The ordinance had gone into effect three weeks prior—a case of poor timing because with the land phones out, the school was frantically trying to reach parents on the limited cell phones that it had.

Most of the parents had an inkling that something was wrong, so by the time Decker and Rina pulled up, there was already a line of SUVs waiting to haul away the children.

The Burnt House
A Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus Novel
. Copyright © by Faye Kellerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Burnt House (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #16) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 196 reviews.
TomBarnes39 More than 1 year ago
A West Air commuter jet takes off from Burbank Airport bound for San Jose, California. The plane was climbing to cruising altitude when suddenly it yawed to port and reversed its climb. The plane dove back to earth and crashed with deadly force and exploded into an eighteen-unit apartment building.
The crash site was located in the community of Granada Hills some twenty miles northwest of Los Angeles.
Fire, police and rescue teams rushed to the scene to find no survivors. Once the fire was out and the body count didn¿t add up the Los Angeles Police Department, West Valley Division led by Detective Lieutenant Decker began the search for flight attendant Roseanne Dresden. The search for Roseanne turns into a possible murder investigation.
Kellerman sets up a twisted plot by throwing in an extra body of an unidentified murder victim into the crash scene. As it turned out that murder occurred thirty years before the crash.
The book is well written but at times the storyline is implausible and the pace is tedious. There were far too many conversations full of small talk that didn¿t advance the plot. Long-winded interrogations added to the slow pace and officers repeating information from those scenes to associates didn¿t help.
That being said I read on to the bitter end. Better for speed readers.
Tom Barnes author of 'Doc Holliday's Road to Tombstone.'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked this one better than the last few. Less angst for Decker and more focus on the intricacies of the investigation. I also appreciate that the resolution is not always complete.
redhddgrl More than 1 year ago
I've read her books with these characters before, but unfortunately forgot that i just can't get into them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of all of the Peter Decker books, I found this one to be the best. The mix of police procedures, Jewish culture, action, and human interest was Faye Kellerman at her best.
HmmmmPB More than 1 year ago
This is my idea of a nice summer, winter, fall read for the mentally exhausted. It's a great escape that doesn't tax the brain but adds a bit of escape-ism to the weekend. This is not a fast paced novel nor is it a slow one, either. Just a pleasant read and the ending is a bit of a surprise, the middle offers up many suspects who come and go and come and go with pathos mixed into the tale. And yes, the title is itself a clue but hidden inbetween the covers. I recommend this to everyone who likes a good mystery that can be put down long enough for a good night's sleep - but that's all b/c a reader just has to know how a good book ends. Thanks, Faye. I'll read another. Oh and I like that there isn't any icky stuff hidden inside to capture a different audience to increase sales. It just wasn't necessary. You know what I mean!
harstan More than 1 year ago
During the morning rush hours, a commuter plane leaving Burbank Airport crashes into a Granada Hills apartment building all forty-seven passengers die. The country is stunned with most people assuming the World Trade center scenario on a smaller scale. LAPD Police Lieutenant Peter Decker leads the investigation while the media and public demand instant answers. He and his wife Rina Lazarus dig deep to determine who and what caused the crash why more corpses are in the rubble than on the passenger list and finally what happened to flight attendant twenty-eight-year-old Roseanne Dresden, whose husband Ivan says she was on the tragic flight and her name is on the manifesto, but her body is not. --- The latest Decker-Lazarus police procedural is an exhilarating fast-paced thriller that starts off with the horrific crash and never slows down until the final twists. The action keeps coming throughout as the lead couple struggles with all three interrelated mysteries while the country fears further incidents the media and the government keep the pressure high to resolve the case. Although plausibility and critical coincidence is higher than the federal debt, fans of the series will enjoy the return of the pair as they work a complex convoluted case. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love these series
amf0001 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The 16th in the Peter Decker series starts with a very dramatic plane crash, and that was very well handled. But then it devolves into a missing person/murder case, and strange things begin to happen. I liked the premise - that not all the people who disappear during catastrophes died as was expected. Was the stewardess on the flight? was she murdered? did she run away? and then then find an extra corpse on the plane crash site - from a murder 30 years ago. Kellerman works both these murders and her solution is about fate and unexpected connections. It was okay, but I was expecting something better to flourish from the beginning of this book. Also, Rina is starting to feel a bit cipherish to me, less a real person and more just a perfect religious wife.
kimreadthis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Burnt Houseby Faye KellermanGenre: MysteryBook #16 in the Peter Decker and Rita Lazarus seriesA plane crashes into an apartment building and flight attendant Roseanne Dresden perishes in the crash - or does she? PlotA plane crashes. Everyone believes that Roseanne Dresden, a flight attendant, died in the crash. Her family thinks her husband Ivan killed her and used the crash to hide the fact. When the plane crashed, it destroyed an apartment building, uncovering a previously dead body identified as Beth Hernandez. Raymond Holmes was Roseanne's boyfriend, and it turns out used to be Belize Hernandez, Manny Hernandez's brother. Manny was married to Beth and they were part of a hippie church. We never fully learn which brother did it, but there was an argument and Beth died. Manny disposed of the body; he took the church's money so he and Belize could go on the lam. Manny purportedly dies soon after in a bar fight; Belize changes his name to Raymond Holmes. Turns out Roseanne was killed by Patricia (aka Marina), Ivan's exotic dancer girlfriend.SettingLos Angeles, Burbank, San Josemodern dayCharactersPeter Decker - detectiveRoseanne Dresden - flight attendant, missing, though dead in crashIsabella (Beth) Hernandez - dead woman discovered in apartment building leveled by crash, cold caseMarge - detectiveOliver - detectiveRina - Peter's wifePacingsteady, nice way of adding information and keeping the reader guessingNarrationthird person=====Language - strongSex - talk of wanting to have sex, prostitutes, cheating, swinging, nothing too explicitViolence - descriptions of crimesHomosexuality? none
readerbynight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Burnt House was a great read. Decker & Lazarus, long-time working duo of the series quickly become old friends and acquaintances to this first time reader. The book is so well-written, combining police procedure with family life, that I felt completely at home with the characters. The story starts off with a literal BANG!! as a commuter plane crashes into an apartment building. So many twists and turns begin when a search for the remains of one flight attendantpurported to have been on the plane, becomes more complex with the appearance of anotherbody in the rubble. Police procedure and how their families must cope became more real to mein this book than similar books I have read in the past. Just when I thought I had it all figured out(as did the team of investigators), it spun around in a completely different direction. I found thebook at once believable yet surprising, and intricately woven. I am certainly going to search outmore of the many earlier books featuring this duo.
bkladyatl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It has been a long time since I have read a Peter Decker mystery and this one did not disappoint. After a plane crashes into an apartment building, Decker and his detectives investigate a woman whose husband ensists she was on the plane but whose parents don't think so. When none of her remains are recovered but a 30 year old body is, Decker has two cases to solve.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A super suspenseful book!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very good book and I highly recommend it and any of the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series. So far they have all been good.
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BCRedhead More than 1 year ago
Each Lazarus/Decker book is different, and it's a real pleasure to know that you are not reading the same book you just finished. I will read the other books she wrote now that I've finished this series.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THE BURNT HOUSE.... So far, so good. Starting to love this author, looking forward to reading other books by her.
Oldemsr More than 1 year ago
Faye Kellerman is the best. I always read her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago