The Ritual Bath (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #1)

The Ritual Bath (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #1)

by Faye Kellerman

Hardcover(Large Print)

$30.95 View All Available Formats & Editions


"Phenomenal...[The Ritual Bath] combines likable characters, a superb mystery plot, and valid insights into Jewish life."
The quiet, ordered world of a yeshiva in the California hills is shattered when a woman is brutally raped as she returns from the mikvah, the bathhouse where women perform their cleansing ritual. Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD has never heard anything like it. And although most of the community refuses to talk to him, Rina Lazarus, the only witness, does, steering him through the maze of confusing religious laws that thwart his investigation at every turn. As the trail grows cold, Decker's only getting closer to Rina and not to the rapist—or is he? Maybe Rina wa the intended victim all along. And the rapist may not stop with rape the next time...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780783890463
Publisher: Cengage Gale
Publication date: 07/28/2000
Series: Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series , #1
Edition description: Large Print
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 6.37(w) x 9.78(h) x 0.88(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

Chapter One

"The key to a good potato kugel is good potatoes," Sarah Libba shouted over the noise of the blow dryer. "The key to a great potato kugel is the amount of oil. You have to use just enough oil to make the batter moist, plus a little excess to leak out around the cake pan and fry the edges to make the whole thing nice and crisp without being too greasy."

Rina nodded and folded a towel. If anyone would know how to cook a potato kugel, it was Sarah Libba. The woman could roast a shoe and turn it into a delicacy. But tonight Rina was too fatigued to listen with a full ear. It was already close to ten o'clock, and she still had to clean the mikvah, then grade thirty papers.

It had been a busy evening because of the bride. A lot of to-do, hand-holding, and explaining. The young girl had been very nervous, but who wouldn't be about marriage? Rivki was barely seventeen with little knowledge of the world around her. Sheltered and exquisitely shy, she'd gotten engaged to Baruch after three dates. But Rina thought it was a good match. Baruch was a good student and kind and very patient. He'd never once lost his temper while teaching Shmuel how to ride a two-wheeler. He'd be calm yet encouraging, Rina decided, and it wouldn't be long before Rivki knew the ropes just like the rest of them.

Sarah shut off the dryer, and the motor belched a final wheeze. Fluffing up her closecropped hair, she sighed and placed a wig at her head. The nylon tresses were ebony atop long, falling past Sarah Libba's slender shoulders. She was a pretty woman with wide brown eyes that lit UP a round, friendly face. And short, not more than fivefeet, with a shin figure that belied the fact that she'd borne four children. Meticulous in dress and habit, she worked methodically, combing and styling the artificial black strands.

"Here," Rina said. "Let me help you with the back."

Sarah smiled. "Know what inspired me to buy this shaytel?"

Rina shook her head.

"Your hair, Rina, , said Sarah. "It's getting so long."

"I know. Chana's already mentioned it to me."

"Are you going to cut it?"


"Not too short I hope."

Rina shrugged. Her hair was one of her best features. Her mother had raised a commotion when she'd announced her plans to cover it after marriage. Of all the religious obligations that Rina had decided to take on, the covering of her hair was the one that displeased her mother the most. But she forged ahead over her mother's protests, dipped her hair short, and hid it under a wig or scarf. Now, of course, the point was moot.

Working quickly and with self-assurance, Rina turned the wig into a fashionable style. Sarah Libba craned her neck to see the back in the mirror, then smiled.

"It's lovely" she said, patting Rina's hand.

"I've got a lot to work with," said Rina. "It's a good shaytel."

"It should be," Sarah said. "It cost nearly three hundred dollars, and that's for only twenty percent human hair."

"You'd never know."

The other woman frowned.

"Don't cut your hair short, Rina, despite what Chana tells you. She has a load of advice for everyone but herself. We had the family over for Shabbos and her kids were monsters. They broke Chaim's Transformer, and do you think she offered a word of apology?"

"Nothing, huh."

"Nothing! The boys are vilde chayas, and the girls aren't much better. For someone who runs everyone else's life, she sure doesn't do too well with her own."

Rina said nothing. She wasn't much of a gossip, not only because of the strict prohibitions against it, but because she found it personally distasteful. She preferred to keep her opinions to herself.

Sarah didn't prolong the one-way conversation. She stood up, walked over to the fulllength mirror, and preened.

"This time alone is my only respite," she said. "It makes me feel human again."

Rina nodded sympathetically.

"The kids will probably all be up when I get home," the tiny woman sighed. "And Zvi is learning late tonight. . . . I think I'll walk home very slowly. Enjoy the fresh air."

"That's a good idea," Rina said, smiling.

Sarah trudged to the door, turned the knob, straightened her stance, and left.

Alone at last, Rina. stood up, stretched, and glanced at her watch again. Her own boys were still at the Computer Club. Steve would walk them home to a waiting baby-sitter so there was no need to rush. She could take her time. Removing her shoes she rubbed her feet, slipped them into knitted socks and shuffled along the gleaming white tile. Loaded down with a bucket full of soapy water, a handful of rags, and a pail of supplies, she entered the hallway leading to the two bathrooms.

The first one had been used by Sarah Libba, who'd left it neat and orderly. The towels and sheet were compulsively folded upon the tiled counter, the bath mat draped over the rim of the bathtub, and care had been taken to remove the hairs from the comb and brush.

Rina quickly went to work, scrubbing the floor, tub, wash basin, and shower. She refilled the soap containers, the Q-tips holder, the cotton ball dispenser, recapped the toothpaste, and placed the comb in a vial of disinfectant.

Ritual Bath. Copyright © by Faye Kellerman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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The Ritual Bath (Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus Series #1) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 537 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked up 'Sanctuary' and was mesmerized immediately, however, before I got very far, my husband's daughter asked if I had read the series leading up to this title. I told her I just picked this title randomly - well let me tell you - she had every Rina/Peter novel starting with 'Ritual Bath' and lent every one of them to me. I started in order with Ritual Bath which really helps you understand this relationship (my husband's Jewish, I'm not). Ms. Kellerman has really blended mystery with love flawlessly. You will not rest until you have read every single title in order and impatiently wait for the next. Enjoy!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a book that I enjoyed quite a bit; it was interesting to learn a lot about "religious" jews. The mystery and romance were good. too.
Jaycee Holmes More than 1 year ago
I consider this an easy read that i enjoyed. But this novel is not one to recommend to those who are not frequent readers. Though, i loved learning about Judaism I found it difficult to create emotional attachments to the characters. I also did not understand the author's choice for the mivkah rapist. Here is to hoping the sequel is better.
Rietta More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this on my new Nook Color. It was a great deal and I am ready to read the next in the series. I was not really familiar with the Jews tradition or the Yeddish language, but the 'lookup' feature on the Nook really helped out. I don't know what I would have done if I didn't have it; it made understanding the book much easier. Loved it, loved the way it developed for the future - I can't wait to see how Peter and Rina hook up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read some of the later novels about the same pair - the detective Peter Decker and the widow Rina Lazarus. This is an excellent introduction into the lives of this pair - their backgrounds and the fascinating and illuminating story line concerning the Orthodox Jewish religion and practices. You won't be sorry - this novel will make you want to continue with the series.
-Eva- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the first book in the Decker/Lazarus-series, a woman is raped on her way home from the mikveh and Detective Peter Decker teams up with the witness, Rina Lazarus, to find the assailant. As far as the mystery-part is concerned, this is business-as-usual; the stakes are high and the characters interesting. Where this story really stands out, though, is in the locale - it takes place on the grounds of a Yeshiva and the main characters are Orthodox Jews, which is a world that is probably unfamiliar to most readers. Kellerman does a great job explaining the various religious and cultural concepts, but some of the lines (in transliterated Yiddish and Hebrew) are left untranslated so that we can emphasize with the bemused Detective. All in all, a very decent beginning of a potentially very decent series.
catmommie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My first Faye Kellerman read, another author recommended to me. I've read several of her husband's - Jonathan Kellerman - books and decided it was time to try her's. This is the first book in the Peter Decker detective series by Faye Kellerman. Definitely enjoyed it and will read the others as I find them. I liked that she added a little about the Jewish traditions of a yeshiva. I enjoy learning about other religions and cultures. Was a mover and kept my interest. I pictured David Caruso as Decker.
KingaBrit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Ritual Bath is usually categorized as a mystery novel (it even won a prestigious award in this field, the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery Novel in 1987), but is rather a contemporary romance novel in a whodunit environment. (And I am telling so without ever reading a so called main stream 'romance' work of any kind...)On her way home from a ritual bathhouse ('mikvah') a young woman is brutally raped in a small, strict Orthodox Jew community, near Los Angeles. One of her friends, recently widowed Rina Lazarus, calls the police and she is also the only one among the religious villagers who seems to be willing to cooperate with the authorities. No wonder that the dashing, 6+ foot, freshly divorced policeman, who is in charge of the case, feels closer and closer to Rina. With some twisting and turning the story unstoppably and pretty calculably rushes towards its happy ending (that includes solving the rape plus murder case on the sidelines as well).One of the the good things of the novel is its environment of course: it is trying to destroy a common prejudice that the followers of any orthodox religion must be weirdos but at least totally self-centered people rejecting other religions and outsiders. The community of Jewtown (as it is called in the story) is pretty confident but friendly and relatively open; boys are playing with G.I Joe action figures, their parents buy stuff in Target, a lot of them subscribe to 'secular' magazines and newspapers, they watch regular TV channels, drink Coke, and so on. True enough, if they go to a ball game, they are strictly banned to eat a good ol' hot dog (instead, they carry their kosher snacks), observe Sabbath very seriously (no electricity use, no work), follow a precisely described dress code anywhere they go, and of course keep the regulations of the ritual bath.The title ('The Ritual Bath') can have several meanings, among them some symbolic as well: first of all of course the actual central element of the story, but we can take it as a symbol for Peter Decker on different levels: it is this case that puts him out of his past's misery (the residues of a divorce), but also, it is this case that connects him with his real spiritual self as well. The events also help Rina to understand what she wants from the rest of her life - as so far she has beeb burdened with her past too.Kellerman writes good dialogs most of the time (for instance there is some mannerism in the beginning when Marge - one of the police officers - talks, etc), approaches her topic quite tactfully and empathetically and develops the Peter-Rina relationship very nicely and realistically (OK, 75% realistically...) With this being said, the novel is hardly more than a plain, although well-written romantic (romance?) story. The mystery part is forgettable but page-turningly (is there such a word?) enjoyable (I figured out the rape incident at about the 50th page or so, and it is not getting better later). For me the most annoying parts are when the text becomes an encyclopedia entry on the kollel life or on other orthodox Judaic cultural issue.The Ritual Bath is fun to read, easy to read and easy to forget. Perfect beach book.
jlouise77 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love these books! I hadn't ever read the first one, so it was really interesting to see how it all began. I also love the Jewish factor. It is SO interesting to read about all the rituals involved in the Jewish faith, since I know nothing about it. And as always, it is a great detective novel. The characters are so likable, too. Great book!
allthesedarnbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in yet another mystery series, starring LAPD Detective Peter Decker, and his romantic interest, Orthodox Jewish widow Rina Lazarus. I absolutely loved this book. Peter and Rina are both well developed, as is the description of life in a yeshiva. The plot (involving rape and murder in a place where Rina and other women feel most safe) is disturbing, but the chemistry between Peter and Rina is light and natural in the most dark and unnatural of circumstances. Highly recommended, and I'm looking forward to the rest of the series. Four and a half stars.
debavp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At times I felt I needed a Hebrew dictionary. You get a sort if micro Judaism 101 so to speak with this one. I felt the author was authentic in purpose with the religious aspect and it definitely added to the story. Despite my lack of knowledge for some of the terminology, that didn't slow the pace down. It moved along quickly and as it was first in a series it briefly introduced some characters without plugging in all the details to leave way for future encounters. I think Decker will become an even more complicated character in the future, but I do hope that Kellerman does write Rina with a bit more depth and personality in the future. Even the character admits she was a bit of a wimp in this installment.
marsap on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first of Kellerman's Peter Decker & Rina Lazarus series this book involves the investigation of a rape at closed Jewish community and school in California outside the mikvah, the bathhouse where women perform their cleansing ritual. Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD is called upon to investigate with the help of a young widow Rina Lazarus. She helps guide him through the religious laws that hinder him from finding the truth. Though the investigation was interesting, the best part was the exploration of Orthodox Judiasm and its impact on the case. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
chinquapin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At a remote orthodox Jewish yeshiva in the hills near Los Angeles, a young married woman is raped leaving the mikvah, a bathhouse for performing ritualistic cleansing. Rina Lazarus, a math teacher at the yeshiva who also cares for the mikvah, finds the woman and calls the police. Police Detective Peter Decker arrives to investigate and seems almost immediately to be drawn to Rina. While the rape investigation is continuing, Rina and Decker begin to draw closer to one another and Rina is conflicted about her growing feelings for Decker, a man who is not Jewish. I really enjoyed this mystery. It was informative and engaging, and I was very drawn to the two main characters, Rina and Decker. I also loved the setting of the yeshiva in the foothills. I have the next book in the series already, and I look forward to seeing where this relationship is heading.
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The only other book I've read in this series was #9 or #10, so it was nice to see how Peter and Rina's relationship started. I found myself sucked into this pretty quickly, and Kellerman kept me guessing until the end! I did find myself wishing for a glossary from time to time, as my knowledge of this form of Judaism is pretty lacking.
fishhook7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like her writing. I like mysteries but I particularly like the bits of religion and hints of morality thrown in.
emhromp2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book a lot, but, it must be said, I guessed 'who did it' halfway through the book. And I never guess who did it. But I like the mix of detective and jewish life. Kellerman is a good writer and I bought another title immediately after finishing this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hope this is the author’s first attempt at writing. I couldn’t finish it. The dialogue is painful to read, the situations unrealistic, and the language out of place. Fortunately, it only cost $ 0.99 so I’m not out much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good reading. Well researched. Realistic characters. Action packed. I would recommend this book to friends.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Captivating read. Even with clues it was not easy to figure our. I would read more of this author's books.
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bookworm52 More than 1 year ago
Another great Faye Kellerman book. A must read if you have read any of her other books. Keep them coming Faye!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nice read surprise ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Rina Lazarus mysteries are interesting, well-written, and offer just the right amount of background on Judaism.