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The Ritual Bath

(Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  15,593 ratings  ·  813 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 Harper Paperbacks (first published May 30th 1986)
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Joseph As of this writing, your question is 59 days old. If, by some chance, you haven't read the book already you should add it to your Kindle now (it's Jan…moreAs of this writing, your question is 59 days old. If, by some chance, you haven't read the book already you should add it to your Kindle now (it's January 28, 2018)--it only costs $1.99.(less)

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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  15,593 ratings  ·  813 reviews

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Mar 16, 2016 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
Jan 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
4 Stars
Mike (the Paladin)
Jul 12, 2015 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 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
Jun 16, 2015 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
Penny Watson
Jun 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent start to this series. I really enjoyed all of the details about Orthodox Jewish life.

There is disturbing material, but not graphic enough to keep me from reading more.

I read this series years ago, and now I'm re-reading for fun.

Grade: A
Tasha Turner
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, mystery
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 (PM)
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.
May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I fell in love with the Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series well into the series with "Grievous Sin" the characters & religious a Roman Catholic, I appreciate the traditions of religion & thus enjoy the many side journeys into the traditions of, I went to the beginning where they certainly isn't a "meet cute" as Decker arrives at Rina's late husband's yeshiva to investigate a rape on its grounds...great stuff! ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid 4.5 stars and two thumbs up!

This is actually my second Faye Kellerman experience, and it won't be my last. The first was the combined effort of Faye and her husband, Jonathan.

I stumbled a bit through some of the book, but I think it was because I was learning so much about the Jewish culture and their language. I find myself the wiser for all of this.

A very good police procedural with an element of surprise at times. Very well written, I encourage others to take the chance and read at leas
Jan 12, 2013 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
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 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a thriller or police procedural, it just about passes muster. However, the characters were sufficiently interesting for me to order the next book in the series to find out about their further adventures.
Terry Cornell
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-fiction
Fast read! I read the second book in the series first, and now went back to read this one. It does give more background to the main characters, and leads directly into the second book. Some parts are a little predictable, but Kellerman has enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I felt the ending was a bit abrupt without much follow-up, but I'm excited to continue on to the third book 'Milk and Honey'. Again I love the setting in Southern California and learning about Jewish culture. ...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
Sep 29, 2020 marked it as dnf-never-finished  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense
I read until page 80/335 and I’m not into the characters or the plot which has lack of tension. And even though the focus is on the two main characters, I find them both quite bland. No rating because I DNF’d it. It just wasn’t for me.
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was okay; a little dated, but not too bad. The interesting thing with this series is the pairing of Detective Peter Decker with Rina Lazarus, a Hasidic Jewish schoolteacher. Typically a series will team up a cop with a forensic specialist or a medical examiner, so it will be interesting to see how this series develops Rina's character.

In this first book, Rina calls the police to investigate a sexual assault that has taken place inside her insular community. The citizens are distrustful of t
Jan 12, 2011 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
Kim Galla
Jul 17, 2009 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 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. ...more
May 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in the series and my first experience of Faye Kellerman's work.
The book was very enjoyable and I will be looking to read more of her work shortly.
Ken Smith
Jun 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Jun 04, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a good introduction to a series and makes me want to keep going. I was interested from the beginning. It interweaves a mystery and Jewish faith. It wasn't hard to follow and I found it interesting to learn new things about the faith. It tells the story of Peter Decker, a detective that is investigating rapes and murders of women of the Jewish faith. He meets the intended victim Rina and her family. He eventually has to battle between keeping his focus on the case and not his increasing ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this whole series. I so learned a lot about Jewish history and the religious tenets.
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2019
What a great story! I couldn't put it down. ...more
Betty Adams
Mar 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
The actual mystery dragged on too long, but otherwise this was a very good read with good detail about Orthodox Jewish customs and life style. I look forward to the second book in this series.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
We are entangled into the world we are thrown into. This book was written in 1986 and has 1986 ethos painted all over it. Social Order Warriors (SOWs) of today, that is those who want to Make America Great Again (MAGA) and Jordon Peterson followers want nothing more than to bring back ‘social order’ to the way things used to be as depicted in this book: where heroic men objectivize women, religious superstitions must be respected, and women need a man to protect them. That recent in the news but ...more
Oct 02, 2013 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
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Play Book Tag: The Ritual Bath by Faye Hellerman - 3 stars 4 7 Jul 11, 2020 10:24AM  
Jewish Book Club: The Ritual Bath 11 33 Jul 10, 2020 04:28PM  
2015 Reading Chal...: The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman 1 10 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

Other books in the series

Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus (1 - 10 of 27 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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