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Book Review – “EVIDENCE” by Jonathan Kellerman

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

Book Synopsis:

In the half-built skeleton of a monstrously vulgar mansion in one of L.A.’s toniest neighborhoods, a watchman stumbles on the bodies of a young couple–murdered in flagrante and left in a gruesome postmortem embrace. Though he’s cracked some of the city’s worst slayings, veteran homicide cop Milo Sturgis is still shocked at the grisly sight: a twisted crime that only Milo’s killer instincts–and psychologist Alex Delaware’s keen insights–can hope to solve.

While the female victim’s identity remains a question mark, her companion is ID’d as eco-friendly architect Desmond Backer, who disdains the sort of grandiose superstructure he’s found dead in. And the late Mr. Backer, it’s revealed was also notorious for his power to seduce women.

The rare exception is his ex-boss, Helga Gemein, who’s as indifferent to Desmond’s death as she apparently was to his advances. Though Milo and Alex place her on their short list of suspects, the deeper they dig for clues the longer the list grows. An elusive prince who appears to harbor decidedly American appetites, an eccentric blueblood with an ax to grind, one of Desmond’s restless ex-lovers and her cuckolded husband–all are in the homicidal mix spiced with eco-terrorism, arson, blackmail, conspiracy, and a vendetta that runs deep. But when the investigation veers suddenly in a startling direction, it’s the investigators who may wind up on the wrong end of a cornered predator’s final fury.

I haven’t really kept up with Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series, so it was nice to check back into the world of his clinical child-psychologist cum sleuth Alex Delaware and his best friend detective Milo Sturgiss on novel #23? / #24? I see that not much has changed, both characters are each still with their significant others and doing their usual … but Jonathan Kellerman seems to have changed his writing style a little bit. The change doesn’t necessarily make this novel better or worse than his older novels (that I’ve read), but I was a bit surprised with how little clinical psychology plays in this novel. Has it been like this for the last couple of novels?

In Evidence: An Alex Delaware Novel, Alex Delaware acts more like an interested passenger, mostly reporting on what’s happening and giving Milo some tips every now and then. I think this should’ve been titled ‘Evidence : A Milo Sturgiss Novel‘, since it is Milo’s story to tell actually. Milo, the gay L.A. detective who has been through more than his fair share of life’s hard knocks, is a very interesting character, and he can actually carry the book – I just thought that maybe Jonathan Kellerman could’ve gone inside Milo’s head, instead of giving us Alex’ voice on Milo. Anyway, given this change in approach, Evidence is more concerned with the police procedures than usual, and kinda reads like a Hollywood movie script most of the time. If you’re a fan of Alex going into his psych-analysis mode, there’s not much of that here.

Now, I’ve never really opened a Jonathan Kellerman book expecting great literature; I read his novels because they are well-written escapist thriller/mystery tomes that are just right for lazing away a day at the beach or a day off. And in this respect, Evidence does not disappoint. The plot is a bit more fantastical than usual for Jonathan Kellerman, but I was never bored and was quite interested in what-is-the-next-plot-twist, which is saying something these days (case in point, Dan Brown’s kinda snooze-worthy ‘Lost Symbol’!) I think the proper description is that Jonathan Kellerman still knows how to keep things exciting, thank goodness. Milo is all sorts of win (!) in this novel; I really liked how he showed his stuff in his witness/suspect interrogation sessions, and it’s about time Milo started getting some mo’ respect on the police force! Pretty cool stuff for Milo Sturgiss fans out there. Plus, the new police chief is pretty bad-ass, and I’m tempted to check out the last couple of Alex Delaware novels I’ve missed, just to see how this new character got into the game.

If you’re not after anything too deep, and just need something to take with you to stave away boredom, say on a plane or airport or car trip – I recommend Evidence: An Alex Delaware Novel anytime. It’s available on Amazon (Hardbound) for $15.97 ($12.03 savings!) and as paperback and Kindle for $9.99.

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