A Cold Heart: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman
In Cold Heart, the latest thriller from bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman, Dr. Alex Delaware picks up on clues missed even by his closest friend, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis. Leave it to this canny shrink to figure out that the only thing two otherwise unconnected murder victims have in common (they're both artists making comebacks after early career burnouts) may hold the key to their deaths. Even for Alex, this unlikely link is a stretch, especially since Baby Boy Lee was stabbed outside a nightclub and Julie Kipper was bludgeoned in the bathroom of an art gallery. But when a concert pianist dies on the eve of his greatest triumph, Alex is sure that the murders are not only the work of the same killer but also connected to the unsolved slayings of a Boston ballerina and an L.A. rock singer. By an even greater coincidence, two of the victims were tangentially involved with Alex's former lover, Robin Castagna, which provides the good doctor a few well placed paragraphs to ruminate on what went wrong in their romance as well as rescue her from the serial murderer who's targeted her as his next victim.
As usual, Kellerman manages to make even a far-fetched plot like this one ring true, but after 17 Alex Delaware mysteries, his series protagonist holds few surprises for the reader, who longs for something to shake Dr. D. out of his smooth complacency. Losing Robin didn't do it--maybe the new woman in Alex's life will. --Jane Adams
Jonathan Kellerman is a master at creating psychologically nuanced novels of suspense—an author whose name is synonymous with unrelenting action, intriguing plot twists, and penetrating insight into the criminal mind. Now he ventures into bold, new territory with his biggest and best novel yet. A Cold Heart features Kellerman’s brilliant signature style—but in this tour-de-force he mines even deeper the emotional landscape of his characters: psychologist-sleuth Alex Delaware, LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis, Milo’s colleague Petra Connor, and Alex’s ex-lover, Robin Castagna—bringing them all vividly to life as never before.
“I’ve got a weird one, so naturally I thought of you,” says Milo Sturgis, summoning his friend Alex to the trendy gallery where a promising young artist has been brutally garroted on the night of her first major showing. What makes it “a weird one” is the lack of any obvious motive, and the luridly careful staging of the murder scene—which immediately suggests to Alex not an impulsive crime of passion . . . but the meticulous and taunting modus operandi of a serial killer.
Delaware’s suspicion is borne out when he compares notes with Milo’s associate, Petra Connor, and her new partner, a strange, taciturn detective with a past of his own named Eric Stahl. The Hollywood cops are investigating the vicious death of Baby Boy Lee, a noted blues guitarist, fatally stabbed after a late-night set at a local club. What links Baby Boy’s murder with that of painter Juliet Kipper is the shadowy presence of an abrasive fanzine writer. This alias-shrouded critic’s love-the-art/disdain-the-artist philosophy and his morbid fascination with the murders leads Alex and the detectives to suspect they’re facing a new breed of celebrity stalker: one with a fetish for snuffing out rising stars.
Tracking down the killer proves to be maddening, with the twisting trail leading from halfway houses to palatial mansions and from a college campus to the last place Alex ever expected: the doorstep of his ex-lover Robin Castagna, whose business association with two of the victims casts her as an unavoidable player in the unfolding case. As more and more killings are discovered, unraveling the maddening puzzle assumes a chilling new importance—stopping a vicious psychopath who’s made cold-blood murder his chosen art form.
gratuitously racist, October 29, 2003
from santa cruz
I have read all the Kellerman books. The early ones, though they would be very dated now should you read them, were the best. I keep hoping for a return to form, but all we get book after book is boring formulaic writing. The pathetic thing, not observed in any of the 29 reviews I read here, is that Kellerman has now decided to inject some splenetic racism into his work. For no reason, except as supposed background to the new character introduced, Kellerman obliquely plays up to the Zionist lobby with anti-Arab slander. This is trivial in some instances, such as describing the murderer as having a beard like Yassar Arafat. But it also portrays Saudis, with the collusion of the American government, as white slave traders capturing innocent blonde American girls. The cousin of a member of the Saudi royal family also is characterised as murdering an innocent American family by driving into them at a shopping mall. This 'product placement' for the Zionist lobby has nothing to do with the book, and imagine the outcry if an author had similarly so gratuitously slandered Jews or Afro-Americans. Otherwise, the prose in this book conforms to Kellerman's write-by-numbers style of recent years. At times, one wonders if he is not a master of irony. That is, is he just writing so poorly and making his characters so lame as a very very subtle form of characterisation. Does he for example have Allison order an Irish coffee as an aperitif in order to signal to the reader that she is socially inadequate? Alas, it is impossible to believe in this level of art coming from the hack typing, not writing, Kellerman evinces overall. The funniest thing in the book is how Kellerman seems so unaware of how the literary criticisms he applies to the murderer really function as damning indictments of his own authorial inadequacy.