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

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  12,162 Ratings  ·  595 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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Mar 16, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it
I have been looking for "that perfect detective series" to get involved in since I have read every V I Warshawski book ever written. The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman is the first book in the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series (thank you Magpie67 for the recommendation). We meet Rina, a widow of two years who still lives at her husband's yeshiva. She is the Mikvah (ritual bath) attendant and math teacher while trying to be both mother and father to her two boys. One night while at the Mikvah, ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Jul 12, 2015 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller, mystery
Good book. This is our introduction to the two characters that I know will go on through at least 8 books as I read the 8th book first...

Here we see the introduction of the characters and the story line. Many continuing mystery series have some kind of "hook". Here it's the fact of Judaism, maybe in the tradition Harry Kellerman's Rabbi? (By the way as far as I can find Harry Kellerman is no relation to this author or her husband).

Anyway, the writer's orthodox faith is part of the story here and
Matt Horowitz
Sep 20, 2012 Matt Horowitz rated it it was amazing
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
May 31, 2012 Tasha Turner rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, romance
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.
SheriC (Portable Magic)
This book was clearly written to appeal to someone very different from myself. Didn't get through enough to feel like it would be fair to give it a star rating, although I will say that the writing was uninspired enough to make the experience as interesting as performing the multitude of chores that the main character is engaged in during the first several paragraphs.

Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Audible. Michael Greenberg sounds as bored reading it as I felt listening to it.
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
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
Sep 26, 2012 Cyberpope rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 12, 2011 Sharon rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle, mystery, 2011-read
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
Jul 17, 2009 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
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
Nov 17, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it
A decent thriller with a great setting. I wish there were more books about orthodox Jews as I find them fascinating. It's like if Yentl were a thriller. My only complaint was that at times it felt more like a romance than a thriller. I could have done with a bit more thrilling and a bit less romance. But still good.
Ken Smith
This was a fun mystery story, set in Los Angeles, revolving around violence at an Orthodox Jew yeshiva. The main character is a gruff (of course!) LA detective, Peter Decker, who is also trying to hunt down the Hillside Rapist, while solving a rape at the school. In his investigations at the yeshiva, Peter works with a young widow Rina Lazarus, a devout teacher who struggles with her attractions to the rough detective. The cultural conflicts (Jewish orthodoxy, LA street cop) is as interesting as ...more
Jan 12, 2013 Elizabeth rated it it was ok
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
Oct 02, 2013 Denise rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime, suspense, mystery
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
Andrea Stoeckel
Feb 14, 2014 Andrea Stoeckel rated it really liked it
A bit predictable (I knew part of the ending in a few pages) but a great story set in an incredible place. Why would someone attack women at a yeshiva? And will they do it again?

Peter Decker "catches" the case, and falls for the mikvah (ritual bath)helper. Not only must they figure out who and why but how come they are attracted to one another, impossible as it may seem.

This is a good mystery and fascinating setting. Will look for others in the series
Jan 07, 2012 Wendy rated it it was amazing
I love this series. There are at least 10 to 12 books in the series. You can read the series out of sequence, but then you do not get to enjoy parts of the books that depict the domestic side of Detective Decker and his lovely wife and family. They are Orthodox Jews but that is only a slight and interesting sideline to the books. All of the characters are real and enjoyable. Most of the novels are intriguing, well thought out and just good reads.
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.
Anne Trinkle
If this book didn't have such awful language and male characters ( policemen at that) who leered at women and said suggestive and crude things about these women, it would have been a good book. The narration was very good, although he never really changed his voice, you knew who was speaking bc of context or bc the author made it clear. I am not a PG reader but the f word was everywhere and where I draw the line is the c word, used about women. I'll leave it at that. If you don't mind foul langu ...more
Jun 16, 2015 Gwen rated it it was ok
Recommended to Gwen by: mystery book club, September 2015
Shelves: book-club
I didn't care for this book at all. It's not the worst thing I've read for mystery book club, but the easily solved mystery (with absolutely no real logic behind the crime) and the ridiculous characterization made me toss the book aside once I finished, thinking that it was a waste of time.

I disliked Decker: misogynistic (both in the belittling and sexual predatory meanings), patronizing toward women, a "sympathetic" backstory (view spoiler) (to give him
Vera VB
LA wordt geteisterd door aanrandingen. Wanneer er dan een verkrachting gebeurt binnen de streng religieuze gemeenschap van de joden is zelfs de rechercheur van dienst, Peter Decker geschokt. Ter plaatse wordt hij eigenlijk al van in het begin aangetrokken tot de vrouw die het slachtoffer in eerste instantie bijgestaan heeft.
Een spel van aantrekking en afstoting begint want alhoewel Rina weduwe is, kan en wil ze geen relatie met een niet-jood.

Ik heb dit boek als ebook gelezen en de eerste 3 pag
Jul 15, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it
#1 in the Peter Decker / Rina Lazarus mystery series. "1987 Macavity Award for Best First Novel; Finalist 1987 Anthony Award for Best First Novel; Finalist 1987 New Blood Dagger Award" Brilliant debut to a series that now has over 20 entries.

Peter Decker / Rina Lazarus mystery - 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 r
Jul 05, 2011 Mab rated it really liked it
this is more of a romance than a mystery novel. I loved listening to the audiobook. The story focuses upon a rape committed in a closeted jewish community living in the outskirts of LA, when a Jewish woman returning home from her ritual bath is raped and left with multiple injuries, and she is discovered by another Jewish woman, a widow with two small boys. This is in the background of a serial rape occurring in the city outskirts. The story then unfolds to show the budding romance between the c ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Simone rated it really liked it
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
May 11, 2012 michelle rated it really liked it
I am not a huge mystery fan, but every once in a while one strikes my fancy. This book and series was recommended to me by my father. He enjoyed it because of the Jewish back story, and I have to say, that made the book more interesting up me as well. The mystery was well formed, the details to orthodox Jewry well researched and the characters likable. I think I could have done without the romantic undertones, which I am sure will continue in the series, but overall it was a very good read and I ...more
May 06, 2011 Barbara rated it liked it
Shelves: judaica-fiction
Well, I just found another series to read. This one involves Orthodox Judaism which is very dear to me. It is was interesting to read how a Yeshiva survives in the Los Angeles area. Although it was easy for me to figure out "whodunit" early on, how Peter Decker drew his conclusions was interesting and intriguing. There were parts that were graphic, but they were not of sexual nature. Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus are two compelling characters and you find yourself really liking them, even if the ...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
Feb 06, 2015 Anna-Sofie rated it really liked it
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'
Mar 06, 2011 Erika rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-read
I went through a Faye Kellerman phase and realized when updating my Goodreads list that I may have stopped reading them at some point. I bought the books; just not sure I read all of them. So I'm starting over with the first that introduces Rina Lazarus and Peter Decker.

(This one I know I read, but I might as well start at the beginning.)


Re-reading this book was great! I'd forgotten how good it was and am glad I have the next dozen or so in the series to read (or re-read).
Jul 30, 2015 Eadie rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
This is the first book in the Peter Decler/Rina Lazarus series and I found it very interesting. In was a great introduction to the Orthodox Jewish lifestyles. The author is very good in grasping the reader's attention and keeping one involved with the storyline. Each chapter flows into the next. The characters felt real, the plot was believable and it was written in such a way that it made it difficult to put down. I am now looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
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2015 Reading Chal...: The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman 1 8 Mar 30, 2015 02:06PM  
  • Bad Love (Alex Delaware, #8)
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/Rina Lazarus (1 - 10 of 24 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)

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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.” 1 likes
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