19 March 2012

Comfort food for thought (or non-thought, as the case may be)

When it comes to comfort food, I think of chocolate -- especially chocolate frosted chocolate cake. Cookies work too. Dark European-style candy bars are great as well.

Then there's comfort reading. Something easy to understand that tells a story. Mysteries are good for that. And for containing the story to a specific, small universe. Beginnings and ends are obvious. Good "guys" and bad "guys" are usually obvious, even if sometimes the good "guys" engage in legally or morally questionable behavior.

Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels fit into this category quite well. So, when I saw Evidence on the remainder pile at Barnes and Noble, I picked it up. (It was a better buy than the Margaret Coel paperback I bought, since I didn't realize until too late that I'd read the Coel book. Another volume to add to the stack going to the hospital auxiliary book sale.)

I wasn't disappointed with Evidence. Then again, my expectations weren't great. I just wanted some entertainment.

And I learned to take care of what generalizations I make. When writing about Tana French's The Likeness, I said that "Coversation is a slow way to tell a story..." Well, Kellerman proved me wrong. Then again, the dialogue in Evidence is quite different than the dialogue in The Likeness.

Evidence may be labeled an "Alex Delaware Novel," but Delaware is pretty much an observant yes man in this book. Detective Milo Sturgis is the active character. Instead of French's real time conversations, the dialogue in Evidence takes place between Delaware and Sturgis, between Sturgis and the people he interviews and questions, and between him and other investigators. Delaware as an observer adds observations and narration along the way. Kellerman is very good at creating dialogue and at moving the story along with a combination of conversations and narration.

This book was just what I wanted. A suitably complicated story, told in ways that kept me interested and intrigured. What was it that Annie Murphy Paul said? "Stories... stimulate the brain and... narratives activate many... parts of our brains..." My brain was stimulated and activated, but I had no trouble falling asleep after reading.

Have you read Evidence by Jonathan Kellerman? What did you think of it? Write and tell this little bit of the world what you think.

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