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Mystery (Alex Delaware) Hardcover – March 1, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
When Lt. Milo Sturgis of LAPD homicide asks psychologist Alex Delaware to view the faceless corpse of a young woman in Kellerman's enjoyable if only average 26th Alex Delaware novel (after Deception), Alex is shocked to recognize the gunshot victim as someone he and wife, Robin, saw the night before in a restaurant bar. A link turns out to exist between the dead woman and a sinister-looking man Alex and Robin observed outside the bar that night. An anonymous tip leads to an online service that matches "sugar daddies" with "star-quality sweeties." The victim, who called herself "Mystery," had a "daddy," Markham McReynolds, whose wealthy, anything-goes family offers plenty of suspects, including McReynolds's wife, two sons, and two daughters-in-law. Kellerman's bantering detectives make it look almost too easy as they put together the clues and possible scenarios, despite the unusual solution to the crime. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Alex Delaware, the L.A. psychologist and crime-solver, returns to tackle another tricky case. A woman has been murdered, her body mutilated. Homicide detective Milo Sturgis, Delaware’s frequent partner, brings Alex into the case, hoping for some insight into the psychology of the killer. Alex is surprised to discover that the victim is familiar to him; Alex and his girlfriend saw her at a restaurant only hours before her death. But how can Alex and Milo expect to find any usable clues when the restaurant is now out of business? The Delaware series has been going since 1985, and it’s long since settled into a comfortable formula, which is just fine as far as fans are concerned. The books star a pair of engaging protagonists and, for the most part, are well plotted. In addition, Kellerman usually tosses in a couple of twists to keep readers on their toes. This installment is nothing out of the ordinary for the series, but it’s a solid entry that will please the established audience. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
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Top customer reviews
I think the one thing I noticed more than anything was that the friendly banter we've seen between Alex and Milo was all but non-existent. Sure, it popped up on occasion, but if I hadn't been following this series since 1991, I'd have no idea that Alex and Milo were close friends. The supporting cast of Alex's long-time girlfriend Robin and Milo's partner Rick seem to have suffered as well, with Rick a near non-entity and Robin acting a bit out of character; I always liked that she didn't agree with the danger Alex got himself into. Now? I don't know, maybe she's used to it.
Gone too are the descriptions of Los Angeles that always made that city into a character in and of itself in a Kellerman novel.
The plot, as far as it went, failed to capture my attention, mainly because not enough was established of the victim to make me care of her plight.
"Mystery" opens with Alex and Robin at one of their favorite watering holes on its closing night; they both notice a young woman sitting alone at a table. The next day, Milo comes over to tell Alex about his latest case, the murder of a young woman; turns out it's the same woman Alex and Robin had seen the previous night. From there it's a fairly mundane investigation until a last-minute twist reveals a killer who I frankly didn't see coming. There's a sub-plot that really doesn't work with Alex providing therapy to a woman with cancer and her young son.
In the past, what made Alex Delaware such an interesting character was that he was an amateur, a man out of his depth getting into situations that frequently put his life into danger. When we first meet Alex in "When The Bough Breaks" he's a young, burnt-out psychologist; yet his compassion for children compels him to come out of retirement to help a young girl who is the only witness to a murder. Milo too has changed, at one time an outsider with the Los Angeles Police Department; now he's the brass and really no longer experiencing the kinds of conflict that pushed him to be the best at what he did. One can argue that people change over the years, yet I get the feeling that Alex and Milo are pretty much locked into a certain age; chronologically, both should be in their late 50s by now (Alex was 33 when "Bough" came out in 1985) yet I get the impression that they're just in their 40s, if that.
As a writer, I can understand the need to change your writing style; when you helm a successful franchise like the Delaware books, and are expected to turn out (on average) a new book a year, you need to be able to complete that book within a certain time-frame. It's not easy writing 80,000 words (roughly) so it can make sense to adopt the prose to best complete the project. Unfortunately, the book suffers because of this. I think the last truly good Delaware novel was "The Murder Book" from 2002.
Perhaps Mr. Kellerman will have the opportunity to take a break from the Delaware series and write something else, or nothing at all, and return to the franchise renewed. Otherwise, the sad reality is Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis will continue to be featured in increasingly mediocre police procedurals, where Alex's involvement seems more driven out of a need to help his friend rather than any genuine curiosity or interest in the psychology behind the case.
He has a indisputable flair for verbal exchanges and conversations but FAR too much detail of routes travelled by each character.
As usual: there is a constant regurgitation of the 'facts' with different interpretations - which is clever ..... but annoying.
With so many characters: I kept losing track of who-was-who; but persevered until the convoluted (and unbelievable) ending.
This is by far the best Jonathan Kellerman book I've read in while, and like a true junkie, I have them all. I loved how the there was more banter between Milo and Alex than there has been in a long time because that has been sorely missing from his books of late. Also, I loved the fact that Alex brought Robin along for a stakeout because ever they broke up and she told him she had a problem with him not sharing much about what he does in his professional life it makes sense for her to take an interest. Plus, her insights are fresh and in general this just seemed more like the Kellerman I fell in love with and whose books comprise two whole shelves of one of my books cases. I actually chuckled at a couple of places and I haven't done that in a while, so I have to say that Kellerman fans will be pleased. The only down side I can say is that it did drag a little in the middle and while it may not have been edge of your seat thrilling it was a finely turned novel.