10 August 2008

Two from Mr. Kellerman

Mary passed on Jonathan Kellerman's latest murder mystery, Compulsion awhile back. It's one of nearly two dozen "Alex Delaware Novels." (Alex Delaware is an LA psychologist, like Kellerman. But the author's alter ego works with an LAPD detective to resolve murder cases.)

Compulsion begins with a few seemingly unrelated random murders. But Delaware recognizes a pattern, and when his LAPD "partner" digs into the cold case files, they extend the pattern in time and space.

Alex Delaware is in the Nick Charles class of mystery solvers: rich, sophisticated, insightful, active, and dogged. Unlike the movie Thin Man, Delaware remains sober.

Kellerman tells a good story. He doesn't hint at things to come since his characters tell the story in the present tense. And the sequence of discovery is believable and rational. I liked this book because of the story telling.

So, when I was in the Bookworm in West Yellowstone, MT, looking for a vacation book, I picked up Obsession, the "Alex Delaware Novel" that preceded Compulsion.

This story begins with questions about a cold case raised by one of Delaware's patients. As he and his LAPD buddy Milo Sturgis poke around in the old case, murder in the present rears its ugly head. And there are, of course, connections between the old deaths and the new ones.

Once again Kellerman's story telling is great. The convoluted plot might be a little too clever. As I finished reading this while sitting next to the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, I had an image of Kellerman and a large chart diagraming all the links between main character Patty Bigelow and all the seemingly unrelated people and events in this book. Then I imagined him making a list of which links to describe in what order and dreaming up ways that Delaware and Sturgis learn about the links.

It's almost as if the formula for writing the book is too obvious. Almost. Because I liked this book too, although it was complemented by noisy rivers, tall moutains, twenty years of forest regrowth in the burned over areas of Yellowstone, and chance sightings of elk, bison, a bear, a coyote, and a variety of birds and rodents. I probably would have liked the book in more mundane settings, so I recommend it. You don't have to visit West Yellowstone to find a copy. Your local bookstore or library probably has one for you.

No comments: