My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sacred and Profane is one of those infrequent books with a perfect title. The title tells you exactly what the book is about; even better, it is lifted out of a dialogue in which this concept is emphasized.
Titles are tricky. I’ve always liked the process of coming up with titles. Sometimes, it’s like pulling hen’s teeth and makes one want to scream. Even so, I was astonished and horrified to learn that publishers — not authors — choose or have the final say on book titles. Giving feedback I understand; making the decision, no way. So I wonder who came up with this title? Was it one of those instances where the author’s choice stood? Or did the publisher’s marketing department have a moment of genius? Either way, it makes the book.
The book itself continues the story of the relationship between Peter Decker, a cop with bad habits and an angry heart, and Rina Lazarus, an orthodox Jewish woman. I had read this book before, a long time ago, but though I couldn’t remember how the mystery part of it unfolded, it really didn’t matter, for the main plot is the conflict between Decker and Lazarus and within Decker himself. Sacred and Profane also explores some of the tenets of orthodox Judaism within the parameters of the two conflicts so that it is part of the story, not extraneous or preachy. The mystery itself is standard hard-boiled police stuff. And in the end, I kind of lost track of who did what and who was responsible for what. Faye Kellerman didn’t do a wrap-up like some other mystery authors do…for the mystery anyway. She did for the relationship.
Sacred and Profane is part of a series that must be read in order as the relationship between Decker and Lazarus grows and regresses so much within each book that you’d be lost if you read one out of order. It is worth it though to start from the beginning and not let the fact you have to read the books in order put you off.