Rina Lazarus

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Rina Lazarus
First appearance The Ritual Bath
Created by Faye Kellerman
Gender Female
Occupation Private detective
Family Peter Decker (second husband)
Jacob Lazarus (son by first marriage)
Samuel Lazarus (son by first marriage)
Cindy Decker (step daughter)
Hannah Decker (daughter by second marriage)

Rina Lazarus is a fictional character in a series of mystery novels by Faye Kellerman.

Rina, an Orthodox Jew, is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. She married a yeshiva scholar when she was 17, lived in Israel with him for a time and had two sons before her husband died of a brain tumor. She went to college to finish her degree in mathematics and is living and teaching at a yeshiva school when she meets her second husband, Los Angeles police lieutenant Peter Decker, in The Ritual Bath. Decker, though raised Baptist by his adoptive parents in Florida, discovered as an adult that his birth parents were Jewish, which makes him officially Jewish as well. After meeting Rina during his investigation of a rape at the yeshiva, he is compelled to explore the religion for himself and eventually to become a religiously observant Orthodox Jew.[1]

All of the books that follow in the series are rooted in Jewish themes. Major characters in the series include Rina's two sons, Jacob and Samuel Lazarus; Cindy Decker, Peter's daughter from his first marriage; Rina and Peter's daughter Hannah Decker; and Peter's partner Marge Dunn. Decker's daughter from his first marriage, Cindy Decker, a teenager in the earliest books, eventually follows her father into the police force and is the main character of two of the later books, Stalker and Street Dreams.

Novels in the series[edit]

  • The Ritual Bath (1986)
  • Sacred and Profane (1987)
  • Milk and Honey (1990)
  • Day of Atonement (1991)
  • False Prophet (1992)
  • Grievous Sin (1993)
  • Sanctuary (1994)
  • Justice (1995)
  • Prayers for the Dead (1996)
  • Serpent's Tooth (1997)
  • Jupiter's Bones (1999)
  • Stalker (2000)
  • The Forgotten (2001)
  • Stone Kiss (2002)
  • Street Dreams (2003)
  • The burnt house (2007)
  • The Mercedes Coffin (2008)
  • Blindman's Bluff (2009)
  • Hangman (2010)
  • Gun Games (2011)
  • The Beast (2013)
  • Murder 101 (2014)
  • Theory of Death (2015)
  • Bone Box (2017)

Critical reception[edit]

Analyst Dorothea Fischer-Hornung states that the character of Rina was used to teach the reader about Orthodox Judaism, even while she "breaks the rules set out for her as an Orthodox Jewish wife", serving "to counterbalance the stereotypical view of traditional Jewish women's roles".[1] Laurence Roth adds that Rina's relationship with the "assimilated American Jewish male", Decker, presents a "solution" to "the bane of American Jewish life during the 1990s". Roth also suggests that Rina's surname, Lazarus, "signifies the contemporary perception that Jewish tradition is being resurrected".[2]


  1. ^ a b Fischer-Hornung, Dorothea (2003). Sleuthing Ethnicity: The Detective in Multiethnic Crime Fiction. Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press. ISBN 9780838639795. 
  2. ^ Roth, Laurence (2004). Inspecting Jews: American Jewish Detective Stories. Rutgers University Press. p. 55. ISBN 9780813533698.