Customer Reviews: Victims: An Alex Delaware Novel
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As I have mentioned in previous reviews of Alex Delaware novels, I am a huge fan of Jonathan Kellerman who has been disappointed by the progressive deterioration in the quality of Alex Delaware novels. The nadir was the previous entry Mystery, which had an absurd and unpleasant plot, conventional gore to shock the reader rather than any chills and characters who had become entirely divorced from reality doing predictable shticks--while the author's main concern seems to be keeping alive plot lines from prior books and planned sequels.

I would not have even picked this one up, except it was available on Vine and I retain enough affection or the earlier and non-Delaware books to give it one more try. I am glad I did. From the first line of the book, "This one was different," it promises and delivers a fresh, exciting mystery, and an education to boot.

The basic story is familiar enough, a series of brutal murders with psychotic mutilations calls for a combination of meticulous procedural police work from the bottom up, and brilliant psychological insight from the top down. As in the best novels in this series, Alex and Milo play off each other effortlessly. Important clues are (or seem to be) a man in a heavy shearling coat inappropriate for the weather, some unpleasant interactions the victims had before being killed and details that point faintly to mysterious treatments in a long-closed psychiatric facility. There are some terrific recreations of places in the book, Alex doesn't spend the whole time in mildly-depressed musings next to his koi pond listening to Robin's wood shaving. The characters are true, but their minor issues and quirks don't overwhelm the story. There are even two excellent action scenes, although one is cut a bit short for my taste.

I don't know what happened to Mr. Kellerman, but Victims is as crisp and elegant as any books in this series. Milo and Alex are real people again, who can surprise you, and who you can imagine might be real. The plot turns on Kellerman's psychological expertise, both in the setting and the minds of the characters. There's gore aplenty, but the chills are honest and psychological, not pornographic. The plot is logical and compelling. The resolution is a surprise, but one that seems inevitable after it is revealed.

All-in-all, a classic mystery from a master. I'm not ready to say it's as good as my favorites, like When the Bough Breaks or Billy Straight, it takes time to make a judgment like that. But at least it's a candidate, and that is a tremendous pleasure. If you are new to Kellerman, start with his classics, but be sure you get to this one. If you are like me and have been disappointed by some recent books, forget your qualms and buy this one. If you loved the recent Alex Delaware's, I don't understand you enough to have any useful recommendations.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Reviewers have been concerned about some of the recent Kellerman novels, believing that JK has stumbled a bit and not been up to his former standard. Not to worry. This is a superb new novel, its success coming from its faithfulness to its core elements.

Those core elements lie in the central conceit: the usefulness of a trained clinical psychologist to a grizzled, gay Robbery/Homicide lieutenant. Alex and Milo seem to be opposites and in many ways they are, but they work together beautifully and almost seamlessly. In Victims we get great dollops of both. This is their case and their story. Robin and her luthier business are far off in the distant background. Puppy dog Blanche makes an appearance or two, but this is not her story either; it's Alex and Milo's.

The plot arc is a sequential investigation--talking to people, checking records, driving from point a to point b, digging up the elusive truth, testing hypotheses, avoiding blind alleys. The body of a middle -aged woman is found. She has been eviscerated in an exotic, violent fashion. Everyone hated her. Suddenly the body of a man is found. He has been eviscerated in the same fashion as the woman. Everyone loved him? What in the world has happened here? And why?

The answers are found in the past and they center on a now-closed hospital for the deeply troubled, including the criminally insane. Alex once interned there and his experience and skills will be of considerable use in the investigation. The hospital also had a `special' wing for `special' treatments. Alex was dissuaded from ever visiting it. Could it still exist, in some form or other?

The investigation is fascinating and the narrative sparkles with great one-liners. I never thought Jonathan Kellerman was gone, but for those who did think so--he's back. And he and Milo are walking down some very mean streets with some very dark inhabitants.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have read Kellerman's Alex Delaware series since the very first book When the Bough Breaks was published over 25 years ago (actually I've read all his books except his non-fiction). In the beginning he was probably one of my Top 10 favorite writers. Over the last few years, though, the spark seemed to have almost died out of his writing.

Well, it's back! I enjoyed "Victims." It was almost like meeting old friends again. Milo and Alex are back.

While the plot line wasn't a totally original one, Kellerman handled the story with aplomb, building the suspense, dropping clues, peeking inside the minds of monsters - which is really what he does so well.

The story was believable, even though horrifying. We didn't have to spend half a book reading about Alex's marriage problems or Milo's many idiosyncrasies. We got to read about the crimes, the psychology behind them, and the solving of said crimes.

Good job. I'm overjoyed that I got to read this as an Advanced Reading Copy.
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What I love best about Kellerman's books -- and I've read all the thrillers -- is his ability to make us care about the characters, even just minor bit part players. But in this book, while the mystery itself is sound and pretty interesting, I found myself not really giving a hoot whether the "bad guy" was caught or not. The victims were, as a whole, a fairly unappealing bunch. From a bully to an unscrupulous surgeon to a creepy street person... no one engendered much sympathy.

All the same, the mystery was an interesting intellectual exercise, and all the regular characters were there, from Blanche to Robin to Milo and Petra. WRitten in a smooth Kellerman style, the writing is impeccable and the story moves along at a rapid pace.

All in all, not a bad book, but not one of my favorites.
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VINE VOICEon January 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I used to be a great fan of Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware series. Each new novel he released was absolutely delightful. Then, however, I felt that Kellerman's creative powers were starting to wane. His most recent three or four novels were really not up to his usual high standards. I was so disappointed with his last novel that I was not even sure that I was going to try the next one.

Still, I read VICTIMS and am happy to report that the Jonathan Kellerman we all know and love is back. This is one of his best novels to date, which is no small feat. The mystery is brilliantly plotted and makes a lot of sense psychologically. The story proceeds very fast and leaves the reader with no opportunity to get bored or distracted. Alex Delaware gets many chances to bring his knowledge of psychology to the search for a serial killer who committed several gruesome murders. Every few pages bring a new stunning revelation. The dialogues are never drawn out and always allow one to maintain one's interest in the story. Robin appears on very few occasions and her presence in the story is minimal, which is always good news, given how boring this character has become.

If you are new to Kellerman's work, I highly recommend that you start with this novel. It showcases the writers talents and will get you hooked on the entirety of his literary output. VICTIMS is a brilliant novel that will keep you reading avidly well into the night. Be forewarned, though, that the novel begins with a very gruesome description of the crime scene. This is not a cozy mystery in any sense of the word. However, if you are into psychological thrillers and are interested in the psychology of serial killers, this is the perfect novel for you.

I hope that this turns into a new and productive stretch in Kellerman's writing.
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on March 17, 2012
Not much to say. This was my favorite author for many years but the quality has deteriorated so much over time (as the prices rise). This one was a struggle just to finish and when asked, I couldn't even remember the plot. I found it to be boring with nothing to offer me. Guess a guy just cannot go on writing forever - maybe he just ran out of material. His wife's last few books were not up to par either....sad!!
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on April 17, 2012
This is a fairly standard effort. Milo calls Alex in on a bizarre murder scene involving evisceration. Alex continues to help Milo as the bodies pile up. I always enjoyed these books and this was no diferent for the start of the book. However, towards it started to lose my interest. It felt predictable. You knew the bad guys would be caught and wished they would finish it. As Milo and Alex put together their theory of the crimes and who might have been involved the story lost me a little. There are murder scenes with no clues except a question mark and from a few vague links they are able to produce a whole theory in way too pat a fashion. Robin is in there but only briefly. The Koi pond briefly mentoned for form's sake. Milo calls over and raids the fridge. This book is the latest entry in a long series and I came away feeling that it was written reluctantly, either because fans cried out for another or the author needed the money. It ticks the box but lacks energy or something. Then again, maybe I lost interest because its time for me to move on. Its like watching a soap opera. For ages you are hooked then one day you wake up and it seems pointless. No one is ever going to be happy or faithful. So you switch off the series record. If you are a fan . read it but do not pay full price as I did. If you are new to these books do not touch this one or you might miss some much better earlier efforts.
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on February 29, 2012
I know that police work is plodding, but books about it are not supposed to be. I have read all of the Alex Delaware books, but this may be the last. The one before this was not much better, but this one is dull, dull, dull. The characters, most of whom are police officers we have met before, are flat and uninteresting. The plot consists almost entirely of these officers talking among themselves. SPOILER ALERT Worst of all, we never get to know the victims or the murderous villains. By the end of the book (which is just as dull as the rest), we are just told no one knows why the killers became such brutal serial killers. Really? Then what is the point of writing a book speculating endlessly about their background & motives? And I do mean speculating. The ending was so, well, not really an ending, leaving me wondering why I bothered reading this book. It's clear to me that the Alex Delaware series has run its course. Kellerman is generally a good, entertaining writer. It's time for him to find something worthy of his talents.
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on March 3, 2012
Alex Delaware returns in Jonathan Kellerman's Victims. Fans of the Delaware/Sturgis characters will be pleased by this story, a plot that centers on an emerging serial killer whose victims don't appear to have any real connection at first. The story focuses on Milo's and Alex's partnership and collaborative, investigative skills -- other familiar characters, such as Robin (Alex's girlfriend), Rick (Milo's partner), Blanche (the dog) are all background material here. Little time is spent on them or the personal lives and idiosyncrasies of the two main characters. Most readers will find this refreshing.

The serial killer has a deeply disturbed passed and the investigation is conducted in a sequential, traditional manner -- interview witnesses, develop sketches, delve into the background facts and dig up the next clue. The victims have been eviscerated in the most gruesome manner and Kellerman is informative without being overly graphic. The author carefully weaves the plot details in a cohesive and intricate fashion, creating the appropriate tension throughout the story. When the bodies begin to pile up, Milos' lead detective position is threatened, bringing a little more intensity to the plot. All in all, a solid, reliable story that will please and entertain you. Enjoy!
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on June 19, 2012
I found this to a very difficult book to get into. My personal bias is for a book that becomes part of me and that I look forward to returning to. This was a struggle to read. I found myself turning pages just to say I was done. After about 70% of the book I finally said Why? and quit reading. That has only occured a handful of times. That becomes significant when my hardback collection numbers in the thousands and now Kindle versions approach 200. I would not recommend.
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