Book Review – Guilt: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
Jonathan Kellerman’s “psychology skills and dark imagination are a potent literary mix” (Los Angeles Times), and this intensely thrilling blend has never been so powerful as in the acclaimed author’s new novel of murder and madness among the beautiful dreamers, seductive predators, and doomed innocents adrift in the glare of Southern California’s eternal sunshine.
A series of horrifying events occur in quick succession in the same upscale L.A. neighborhood. A backyard renovation unearths an infant’s body, buried sixty years ago. And soon thereafter in a nearby park, another disturbingly bizarre discovery is made not far from the body of a young woman shot in the head. Helping LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis to link these eerie incidents is brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But even the good doctor’s vast experience with matters both clinical and criminal might not be enough to cut down to the bone of this chilling case—and draw out the disturbing truth.
Backtracking six decades into the past stirs up tales of a beautiful nurse with a mystery lover, a handsome, wealthy doctor who seems too good to be true, and a hospital with a notorious reputation — all of them long gone, along with any records of a newborn, and destined for anonymity. But the specter of fame rears its head when the case unexpectedly twists in the direction of the highest echelons of celebrity privilege. Entering this sheltered world, Alex little imagines the macabre layer just below the surface — a decadent quagmire of unholy rituals and grisly sacrifice.
Before their work is done, Alex and Milo, “the most original whodunit duo since Watson and Holmes” (Forbes), must confront a fanatically deranged mind of such monstrous cunning that even the most depraved madman would shudder.
It’s 2013, and for Jonathan Kellerman fans like me – the new year means that Mr Kellerman will have a new book out. It’s like clockwork with him. And it didn’t take him long too – Guilt, which is book #28 in Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series, was released just this February, and I wasted no time in getting myself a copy 🙂
In Guilt, Alex and Milo are initially called in for a super cold case – the decades-old remains of an infant is found accidentally during a backyard renovation. But things do come in three’s, don’t they, and two more bodies – a woman and another set of infant bones – are discovered in a nearby park. Are the two cases somehow connected? Alex and Milo dig into both the past and the present, and end up entangling with Hollywood (including a pair of Jolie/Pitt-esque suspects).
I finished this one pretty quickly (in two days flat) and as a long time fan of the series, I was okay with it (except for the bland ending). It’s not the best I’ve read from Mr Kellerman, but definitely not one of the bad ones (i.e. Deception). Warning to fans who really prefer the earlier Alex Delaware books, the latest one is still more of a police procedural than a psychological thriller, so skip it if you feel really strongly about it. And my problem with the ending? It lacked suspense and danger (Very Important for crime thrillers), and involved characters I was meeting for the first time. Ergo, a distinct lack of emotional punch for such a horrible crime (baby-killer).
I did appreciate that Mr Kellerman seems to be trying to bring back the psychology aspect, even if in a peripheral or subplot way like it is in Guilt. (The previous book Victims had Alex Delaware’s psychology skills more front and center.) I personally prefer Alex when he is contributing more as a expert psychologist (like in the early books, especially when he’s working with children) instead of just being Lt. Milo Sturgis’ sounding board &/or driver &/or Google-surfing police sidekick.
Another thing I liked with Guilt was that Alex Delaware was (finally!) humbled by being very wrong about many of his conclusions. That sounds odd, I know, but I was getting fed up with how ‘Mary-Sue’ the character was, as this super-sleuth who was always right, while there seemed to be a dumbing down of Milo. I mean there was an actual scene in the book where Milo’s boss tells Alex that he’s the better detective (?! – I was very offended on Milo’s behalf).