Customer Reviews: True Detectives: A Novel
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on April 2, 2009
This tale is complicated by lots of characters with the two main ones brothers who don't trust each other: one a private detective, the other a police officer, both working on the same case. I had a good bit of trouble keeping track of which brother knew what, had done what, told the other one what. I found it very confusing. Far too many descriptions of "fashion" clothes worn by the private detective...who cares? And there just seemed to be too many characters for the plot, some not at all well developed. Kellerman has written a lot of good, enjoyable novels; I don't find this to be one of them.
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on April 9, 2009
The Jonathan Kellerman writing style has changed so much, I suspect someone else ghost wrote this book. I can barely wade through the metaphors and slang to figure out what he's saying. It's really awful. Can't imagine whoever wrote this stuff thinks it's clever, but I bet they do. J Kellerman just dropped off my favorite authors list and probably off my future purchases list. And, by the way, the story just goes nowhere.
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on April 3, 2009
I am a huge fan of Jonathan Kellerman, and I really, really wanted to like this book. I just could not get into it. I actually stopped reading after about 1/3 of the book because I found myself feeling that reading it was a chore rather than a pleasure. I found I just could not make myself care about the characters. They do not appeal to me at all. The plot just did not capture my interest and I agree that it seemed overly complicated. I imagine authors sometimes get tired of writing about their usual characters but please don't use your faithful readers as guinea pigs for poorly thought experiments.
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on April 11, 2009
This is not the author's best book; in fact, it may be his worst. It's overly convoluted and there are so many characters orbiting around that I have not come to care what happens to any of them. If you have already purchased it, sell this one back and try to recoup your investment.
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on April 17, 2009
I am a longtime fan of J. Kellerman. This book lacks the taut plotting, deep character development, or the real-life tensions across class and education (e.g. as between Milo Sturgis and Alex Delaware). I almost didn't finish it. The name-dropping re fashion and cars was cheap and distracting. The plot is a mish-mash with no central organizing theme. A real disappointment to a decades-long fan of this terrific writer. A heavy edit; a strong hand in making the plot work; exision of name dropping would make it much stronger. Still a fan, but now a bit wary.

Leigh Star
Santa Cruz, CA
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VINE VOICEon May 26, 2009
Thirty-something private detective Aaron Fox, son of Darius Fox a black LAPD policeman gunned down years ago, and the younger Moe Reed, son of Darius' white patrol partner, and, strangely enough, Aaron's mother, also white, making Aaron and Moe half-brothers, have never been able to overcome their rivalries towards each other. But it is precisely these highly unusual, if not confusing, family dynamics that are brought to the fore when Moe, a LAPD homicide detective, and Aaron, hired by a well-to-do Russian employer who is curious about the distress of one of his employees, are coincidentally both tasked to find a young college student Caitlin Frostig, now missing for 15 months.

The case at first seems to involve little more than rechecking facts and again shelving it. There were no apparent complications in Caitlin's life: she was a homebody and good student with an equally mild-mannered boyfriend. But the two brothers, operating mostly independently, start finding cracks in this wholesome scenario. From the boyfriend's drug-dealing the case expands with ties to fading and flailing Hollywood types, prostitution, street lowlifes, Christian fundamentalism, abusive relationships, and even the staged and brutal death of a good looking hooker.

The contrast between the brothers is a constant backdrop. Some may disagree, but Aaron with his GQ mentality and ambition is the more appealing character; gauged by success, there is no debate. However, there is little attempt to understand the interplay among the brothers; little more than convenient tolerance is evidenced when required. Likewise for the remaining characters: all are minimally sketched with no particular appeal. The plot has more busyness than complexity. Perhaps the rule that one has to follow all the leads as they unfold is legitimate, but the brothers got seriously sidetracked from their original mission, which was one interview away from being solved quickly.

The cameo appearances of the author's stalwarts don't rescue this book. The story line, the characters, and the intangibles never rise beyond the mediocre. In addition, the fairly evident effort to be politically correct along racial lines seems forced and clumsy.
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on April 28, 2009
Early Kellerman books were intelligent, well developed and fast paced ~ very different than his more recent offerings. In "True Detectives" he devotes more print and effort to describe food, clothing and sibling sparring than substantive content. It is rare that I set a book aside after reading only half of it, but this was one that merited the decision. Thin plot, shallow characters and too much pseudo-clever bantering to be taken seriously. Note for the editor: if you are going to advertise Purell, do not have your characters using it in 1979 ~ years before it was even invented.
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on June 9, 2010
TRUE DETECTIVES is a brilliant novel and may well be Jonathan Kellerman's best work to date.

Let's start with the primary characters. Moses Reed and Aaron Fox were introduced in 2008's BONES. Interesting secondary characters in that book, Kellerman fleshes them out and gives them living, breathing substance in TRUE DETECTIVES. These half-brothers are very different from each other. Reed is a flashy, stylish dresser who is well ahead of the GQ curve and possessed of an observant eye such that he immediately "gets" Dr. Alex Delaware's digs from a once-over of the outside. Fox is comfortable in undistinguished clothing and is not so much unstylish as unconcerned. Reed is an extremely successful private investigator with a quietly A-list clientele and a contact sheet of equal quality. Fox is an L.A. homicide detective, a de facto protégé of Milo Sturgis, with a dogged tenacity fueled by a desire to do well for the sake of the job.

They do not get along. Although Fox is white and Reed is of mixed race, their racial difference is not the source of their disagreement, though it would have been easy enough for the author to go down that route. Kellerman, however, does not take shortcuts when exploring the fraternal relationship. He makes you believe that race is not the etiology for the problems between them; it goes deeper than that. And when Fox and Reed realize that their respective cases throw them uneasily together, they find that they have to confront their differences --- and themselves.

But that is only one element that makes TRUE DETECTIVES such a joy. There is a real plot here, buoyed by Kellerman's L.A. triptych tour of the restaurants and attractions of Los Angeles --- from the boulevards to the side streets and all points in between. The focal point is a private investigation of a missing person initiated by Reed at the behest of one of his regular clients, an enigmatic Russian expatriate who he knows only as Mr. Dmitri. Reed is retained by Dmitri to investigate the disappearance of Caitlin Frostig, the adult daughter of one of Dmitri's accountants. The job brings Reed into contact with Fox, who was the primary investigator on the case and who wound up with nothing but dead ends. The unsolved case grates at Fox, as does his brother's interest in it, so the two form an uneasy and occasionally unwilling alliance to determine the fate of the missing woman.

Caitlin's boyfriend seems to be a likely suspect, and their investigation of him soon reveals that he is a gofer for an almost washed-up actor who has a load of problems, not the least of which is the company he keeps. When Caitlin's disappearance appears to be related to the unsolved murder of a prostitute, Fox and Reed soon find that their investigation is leading to the highest echelons of the Hollywood power structure and beyond, though to places they never could have anticipated.

The aspect of TRUE DETECTIVES that makes it an addicting read is the manner in which the two brothers work so well together by virtue of their very separate but compellingly equal ways. It is their differences that ultimately fit the fruits of the their labors together, like pieces in a puzzle. And this is very much a Fox and Reed book, if you will; Sturgis and Delaware make brief, if important appearances, enough to provide a sense of continuity but not enough to steal the show from the brothers. Not that they necessarily could. Fox and Reed may be the most interesting detective team you will encounter this year, and TRUE DETECTIVES is the perfect novel to officially launch them. I would be happy to see more of them, and Dmitri, in the future.
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on January 22, 2010
First, I want to comment on the fact that the first chapter introduces 1 of the character's fathers - a police officer. It mentions his police officer partner and talks about said police officer as using Purell on his hands. This is supposed to be in 1979!!! How would anybody be able to use Purell which didn't come into being until after the milennium?? Are there no more publishing editors in the world, or are we being subject to needless product placement which must have reaped a huge monetary windfall for the author? In the past, Mr. Kellerman always seemed fastidious in his research. This blatant error seems more like a huge payoff, rather than an innocent blunder for someone who was, hitherto, so careful.
OK. I finally managed to slog through this book. And, it feels like it took an eternity.
I'm not sure if I read a book whose author has ben paid to plug men's clothing. And, I have to agree with others here that these 2 characters are not interesting enough to warrant their own book. I also agree with those who feel that the Dement patriarch is a thinly disguised Mel Gibson. Whoever wrote this book seems overly obsessed with celebrity and fashion. I hate to think that one of my favorite authors has deteriorated to such a point where he can no longer pen characters and a plot that engages the very readers who put him at the top of book lists for years. Sorry, Mr. Kellerman, but this novel should be relegated to the rubbish heap.
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on September 27, 2009
where to start on this one? I absolutely love the Alex Delaware novel series. sure I get tired of the whole Robin thing, but if you're willing to push through those parts you're normally not disappointed. This book made no sense...who killed the first police officer..what's the significance of his partner getting together with the wife and fathering a child, alcoholism? And if I heard one more description of Aaron's clothes, taste in food or whatever, I'd puke. Cannot believe I stayed in till the end. I suppose you get this with popular authors sometimes, they start to smell themselves. Total waste of time.
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