The title of Faye Kellerman's latest novel, Street Dreams, refers to the curse of rookie cops. Even when they sleep, new officers can't escape visions of violent criminals, bloody shootouts and elusive crooks.
The rookie in Ms. Kellerman's 15th book featuring Los Angeles Police Lt. Peter Decker is Decker's 28-year-old daughter, Cindy, who joined the force against her father's wishes.
But when Cindy finds a newborn in a restaurant trash bin and quickly locates the child's mother, her dad is happy to offer accolades. He even gives some good investigating tips when it's revealed that the young mother, who is retarded, was raped.
The search for the rapist uncovers enough horror to fuel Cindy's street dreams: She witnesses a deadly car crash that's not an accident and is almost killed in a drive-by shooting.
But the central drama of the book is diluted because it competes with several other story lines, including Cindy's budding romance, her strained relationship with her father, and her stepmother's attempts to solve a decades-old murder.
As in Ms. Kellerman's other books featuring the Deckers, Judaism is a major part of the story line. Peter Decker and his wife, Rina, are Orthodox, and Cindy is dating an Ethiopian Jew named Koby.
In previous books in the series, which focused on Peter and Rina, Ms. Kellerman did a better job of blending the plot with the struggle to maintain a Jewish identity.
In Street Dreams, the attempt feels awkward and forced. At one point, during a passionate moment between Cindy and her new beau, Koby manages to explain the terms kiddusha (holiness), bashert (fated or destined) and shiddach (a match). The impromptu language lesson sort of saps the momentum.
Street Dreams simply has too much going on, and, at 420 pages, makes it hard for readers to remain interested until the end.