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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gun Games (Decker/Lazarus #20) (audiobook) by Faye Kellerman

Poor detective story, mostly the story of a romance between two high school kids

Published by HarperAudio in 2012.
Read by Mitchell Greenberg.
Duration: approximately 12 hours. 

This is the 20th book in Faye Kellerman's long-running Decker/Lazarus series, featuring police detective Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus. Peter and Rina are serving as foster parents for Gabriel Donatti, a boy with parents who are estranged from him and one another. His father is a mobster and his mother is out of the country starting a new life.

A great deal of the book follows Gabe, although there is a mystery for Peter Decker to solve. It involves a suicide by a student from a local, very expensive private school. The case seems fishy to Decker as he and his team uncover nebulous links to a group of bullies from the elite school who like to pretend they are gangsters, carry weapons and intimidate teens in and out of their school. Unbelievably, these same kids get involved with Gabe and his new girlfriend, Yasmine. Yes, the foster father is investigating a case and the bullies that he can't quite get a handle on end up tangling with his foster son, making the case burst wide open. How many people live in Los Angeles? What are the chances?

My real frustration with the book comes from the lengthy, explicit details of Gabe and Yasmine's exploration into sex. I am in the midst of my 23rd year of teaching high school and middle school students - I am very aware that students have sex. I am a well-read person and hardly am a prude. But, this book crossed the line between demonstrating that Gabe and Yasmine had a strong, physical interest in one another and had begun a sexual relationship and instead went very close to child pornography with its emphasis on details and the constant discussion of Yasmine's physical immaturity when compared to Gabe (she was described as looking like she was 10 years old many times). What could have been a sweet romance between star-crossed lovers quickly (and frequently) became creepy and threw a pall over the entire book.

On top of that, Kellerman's teen characters rarely sound like teens when they talk or text one another. I speak with teens every day and these teens sounded nothing like them. There was very little slang, except for slang that no one under the age of 50 uses (like a boy "taking a shine" on a girl to say that he "liked" her). Most of the teen conversations sounded stilted and overly formal, like teenagers talking to an aged relative at a family gathering. Kids curse - and curse a lot, especially when no parents are around. Even more so when they are trying to act tough, like the gun-toting wannabes from the elite school. Nothing about their conversations sounded remotely authentic.

Narrator Mitchell Greenberg did a solid job with the reading of this story. He is especially good at keeping track of things like mentions that the characters have, for example, runny noses and incorporating that into his voices by making them sound stuffed up.

So, in a sentence - this story has unbelievable coincidences with teens that sound nothing like teens and long, detailed descriptions of underage teens having sex.

I rate this book 1 star out of 5.

Reviewed on February 27, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Awful, awful book although I would have probably loved it when I was 15! Not suggesting, or contradicting, your own angle of the fictional teens being entirely unrealistic to a modern day young audience. Almost has you reaching for 'Ulysses', 'Gun Games' is that bad! Thanks for your incisive review.