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

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  9,005 ratings  ·  436 reviews

Detective Peter Decker of the LAPD is stunned when he gets the report.Someone has shattered the sanctuary of a remote yeshiva community in the California hills with an unimaginable crime. One of the women was brutally raped as she returned from the mikvah, the bathhouse where the cleansing ritual is performed.

The crime was called in by Rina Lazarus, and Decker is relieved

Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 3rd 2004 by Perennial (first published May 1986)
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Community Reviews

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aPriL eVoLvEs
What to do.....

For me, an atheist, I am offended by the obvious purposeful crippling of being human by the rituals of ANY religion. Since the beautiful widow and mother of two boys Rina Lazarus, love interest of the detective Peter Decker, is an Orthodox Jew, I am grinding my teeth even while I am admiring this interesting beach read of a novel.

This is book one - how they meet, so I knew I had to start here. However, I'm uncertain about continuing. Usually I give a series at least three books re
Matt Horowitz
I had gotten this book (and #2) when a very old copy was being thrown out at the temple library I worked at and it promptly sat on my shelf for two or three years. I can't finish one book without immediately starting another (even if it's only the first couple of pages) and I found myself (late) one night with a finished book and no idea what to read next. So I picked this up and ended up reading almost half of it before going to bed.
The next day and despite working at a bookstore I drove around
Tasha Turner
One of her better books. Trying to describe orthodox Jewish concepts to non-Jews is always hard. Ms Kellerman does fairly well with this book.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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, recent
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 Deck
Krisi Keley
Closer to a 3.5, but a difficult one for me to rate as far as "enjoyment" because of some of the subject matter - reading about rape and extreme prejudice is difficult to "enjoy" as such. An interesting crime mystery with well-developed characters though, and I did really enjoy learning more about Torah Judaism and other varying Orthodox Jewish views and traditions. I also thought the author did an excellent job of portraying some of the difficulties of trying to live one's faith in a culture th ...more
Who doesn’t like a mysterious crime? Especially one filled with intrigue, suspense and served up with a little romance on the side. That is what “The Ritual Bath” by Faye Kellerman has to offer. This is the first book of the Decker/Lazarus series. The story takes place in a yeshiva community in the California hills in Los Angeles. The people of this small, remote community keep to themselves; however their peace is disturbed by a violent rape. Detective Decker is sent to solve this case. While d ...more
This book had a lot of promise in the beginning and I felt connected, drawn to, and cared about the main characters. One of the reasons I'm feeling much disappointment and sadness is because the author was adept at getting me at least emotionally involved with her characters. I was also excited about reading this book for personal reasons. The novel explores and does a good job of explaining many unknowns about one of the many types of Judaism. The author did this in an interesting and engaging ...more
I'm very torn about how to rate and review The Ritual Bath. What usually pushes me to rate a book is how well it is written.

In that respect, I will go with 4-stars, because this book is very well written. What I find unusual is the amount of Orthodox Jewish life represented in what I thought would be a mainstream book. To someone unfamiliar with Orthodox Judaism, that may be a huge turn off.

A portion of the story hit me on a personal level, in an irritating way - that included an "all too conven
Having started reading the Peter Decker series at book 5, I was really interested to make my way back to book one and find out how it all began. Although quite short by comparison to the further titles in the series, this is a great book. It really sets the scene for what it ultimately a love story between the cynical homicide detective (Peter) and the sweet (much younger) Jewish widow (Rina). Yet it is also a gripping page turner, as Rina is stalked by a crazed rapist, who is terrorising the sm ...more
Unfortunately i was not able to finish this book. It wasn't because the book was badly written, or that the plot was bad. It was because Rina is an extremely religious woman who indoctrinates her children. Having been subjected to religious indoctrination myself, especially in religious (indoctrination) school it brought back to many bad memories. I would not recommend this book to people who were also subjected to religious indoctrination. Other than that it is a good book and i woud recommend ...more
This is the first book in a 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 ...more
I had purchased the audio book during a random 'special sale' but despite the blurb sounding interesting enough it has still taken me 6 months to get around to listening. What a waste, I could have been through more of the series if I had got stuck into the first book earlier.

Firstly, I don't think I would have enjoyed this even half as much if it hadn't been audio. There is a LOT of jewish words which I would have skipped over in written form and the narrator had brilliant incantonation (hmm, n
Ginger Price
The. Beginning

I've read other Faye Kellerman novels, but never started this series, so decided to start at the beginning & get to know Detective Peter Decker and his co-workers Marge Dunn & Michael Hollander of the LAPD. Rena Lazarus, a 26 yr old widow with 2 small boys live in Yeshivat Ohavei Torah, a Jewish school for boys. A rape has occurred on the property to Rina's best friend. Decker has been investigating other rapes in the Foothills. Is it the same rapist or someone on the insi
Good read! Only problem I had was all the Hebrew words. Would have liked a glossary instead of having to search Google or Wikipedia via my Nook app. For a book written in the eighties, it is surprising current...minus the "ghetto blaster" references and a few other iconic elements. Definitely someone I would read agian. Definitely a series I would continue with.
A bit too much profanity, and the Jewish expressions were italicized but there was no glossary which was annoying. The story wound along beautifully until the end when it finished awfully quickly. (Maybe I was just too tired.) Looking forward to reading more in this series.
This was another bookclub selection. I think my sister described it best when she said she could picture it as a made for tv movie. If you are into mysteries that are a quick read, you would enjoy this book.
Interesting book about a murder investigation involving a relatively closed community. I knew nothing about Jewish women's ritual baths, but since the author is something of an expert on them, I'm assuming that most of what is written is accurate. The book also illustrates some of the difficulties of outsiders trying to piece together motive and opportunity when dealing with a community they are unfamiliar with. Faye Kellerman's writing is much more graphic than her husband Jonathan Kellerman's ...more
Not quite the same as those crime novels that I have read. I like that the author included a lot of details on the personal life of the victims and the detectives. It added a tad of humanity into the cruelty and bloodiness in a crime story. I totally loved the chemistry between Rina and Peter, but I would be happier if Peter was described as better looking or muscular instead of a redhead undergoing a midlife crisis.

The story was okay. The killings were not very brutal and bloody. An easy read.
I bought this book on a Nook special, and I'm glad I did. It's the first in a very long series of detective novels with a definite Jewish theme. This book was written in the mid-1980s, and I giggled at what is now considered "old school" technology. The giggles aside, I enjoyed the plot. Until the end, Kellerman kept me guessing who the rapist and murderer was. There was also a romantic subplot that was fraught with religious prohibitions and impossibility. With my extremely busy schedule, I rea ...more
Karen Hufman
Rina Lazarus is a widow who lives at a yeshiva with her two young boys. One of the women is raped as she leaves the Ritual Bath where Rina cleans. Enter Peter Decker- a goy Detective who is very interested in Rina. It's a fun book to read since it's the first in a series where I've read a lot of the other ones. I always find it informative to learn about the conservative Jewish culture in these books though I wouldn't mind if they used a lot less Hebrew words. I don't think they explained a lot ...more
This was a refreshing crime story...well-written, good drive, and intriguing setting in a Jewish yeshiva in Los Angeles.
The detective Peter Decker meets the attractive Jewish widow Rina Lazarus (pretty stereotype!), who works in the Mikvah - the ritual bath for women in the yeshiva. A woman is brutally raped outside the mikvak, and apparently Rina is the main target for this man.
However,the crime story is only one part of the story, the description of life in the yeshiva is just as important. I'
My favorite author by far.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Finished this last week but forgot to mark due to my hectic schedule.
It was actually good. The prose is intelligent and easy to read, most importantly. The mystery isn't half-assed. I was rooting for a different guy up until the big reveal and it's not even boring despite the many religious almost lectures. I love a good novel about 'the higher power' but Judaism is a too realistic and complicated to interest me but as I've said, it's not really boring. I've started in the second book but set i
I enjoy a good mystery and the title to this one led me to think that it would hold some information into the supernatural. I was disappointed to find that it did not touch on supernatural issues. However, because it is wrapped up in a tight-knit Jewish community (which I know very little about) I did enjoy the read. Since this is the first of a series of books, I was surprised that Kellerman did not spend more time explaining some of the cultural motifs, but she did give us enough information t ...more
Bridgette Redman
Every so often, I am fortunate enough to stumble upon a series at its beginning. And since books in a series rarely improve as the series wears on, the first book is very often the best. It is there where the characters are still fresh and the author shows a high amount of creativity and originality.

Faye Kellerman has two claims to fame. The first (and most important) is her bestselling mystery series and the two extra-series novels (one a historical mystery and the other a mystical thriller) sh
Heather Bokon
I liked the basic story of this book; the characters were well developed, I thought Rina and Peter both were realistic as were their conflicts with their feelings for each other. The crimes being investigated were a little convoluted to me, but only a little. I don't want to say too much, but there were some coincidences that I found a little too coincidental

I wasn't a big fan of the changing POV, but that's a personal preference, not a flaw of the book. I prefer staying in the heads of the main
I'm always happy when the first book in a series is good because then I'm excited to start reading the next book in the series. So on to the next one for sure.

I like Peter and Rina. Peter is not really so hard-boiled, but he's tough, yet caring, and he's a good detective to boot. Rina is a younger woman, perhaps even too innocent in her thinking, and that gets her into some trouble.

The author mixes a lot of Jewish culture and historical tidbits in for the reader, and that's great. I love learnin
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman 1 4 Mar 30, 2015 02:06PM  
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Faye Kellerman was born in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in Sherman Oaks, California. She earned a BA in mathematics and a doctorate in dentistry at UCLA., and conducted research in oral biology. Kellerman's groundbreaking first novel, THE RITUAL BATH, was published in 1986 to wide critical and commercial acclaim. The winner of the Macavity Award for the Best First Novel from the Mystery Readers ...more
More about Faye Kellerman...

Other Books in the Series

Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus (1 - 10 of 23 books)
  • Sacred and Profane (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #2)
  • Milk and Honey (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #3)
  • Day of Atonement (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #4)
  • False Prophet (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #5)
  • Grievous Sin (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #6)
  • Sanctuary (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #7)
  • Justice (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #8)
  • Prayers for the Dead (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #9)
  • Serpent's Tooth (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #10)
  • Jupiter's Bones (Peter Decker Rina Lazarus, #11)
Milk and Honey (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #3) Hangman (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #19) Sanctuary (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #7) Sacred and Profane (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #2) Day of Atonement (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #4)

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“True, my boy. Only Hashem is omniscient, and until He decides we’re worthy of His communication via prophets or the Messiah, we mortals are forced to live in a state of ignorance. I’ve spent my whole life learning, Detective, acquiring knowledge not only from the scriptures of my belief, but from countless other sources—American law, philosophy, psychology, economics, political science: I have studied them all at great length. Yet, a madman can slip under my nose, and I realize I know nothing. I am still a meaningless speck of dust in the scheme of things. A most humbling experience.” 0 likes
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