The Murder Book by Jonathan Kellerman
When L.A. psychologist Hardcover edition.
In seventeen consecutive bestselling novels, Jonathan Kellerman has distinguished himself as the master of the psychological thriller. Now in Kellerman’s most compelling and powerful novel yet, L.A. psychologist-detective Alex Delaware confronts a long-unsolved murder of unspeakable brutality—an ice-cold case whose resolution threatens his survival, and that of longtime friend, homicide detective, Milo Sturgis.
The nightmare begins when Alex receives a strange package in the mail with no return address. Inside is an ornate album filled with gruesome crime scene photos—a homicide scrapbook entitled The Murder Book. Alex can find no reason for anyone to send him this compendium of death, but when Milo views the book, he is immediately shaken by one of the images: a young woman, tortured, strangled, and dumped near a freeway ramp.
This was one of Milo’s first cases as a rookie homicide cop: a vicious killing that he failed to solve, because just as he and his training partner began to make headway, the department closed them down. Being forced to abandon the young victim tormented Milo. But his fears prevented him from pursuing the truth, and over the years he managed to forget. Or so he thought.
Now, two decades later, someone has chosen to stir up the past. As Alex and Milo set out to uncover what really happened twenty years ago, their every move is followed and their lives are placed in jeopardy. The relentless investigation reaches deep into L.A.’s nerve-centers of power and wealth—past and present. While peeling back layer after layer of ugly secrets, they discover that the murder of one forgotten girl has chilling ramifications that extend far beyond the tragic loss of a single life.
A classic story of good and evil, sacrifice and sin, The Murder Book is a gripping page-turner that illuminates the darkest corridors of the human mind. It is a stunning tour de force.
From the Hardcover edition.
Classic Delaware with Extra Milo, October 23, 2003
richard a lovett
from Portland, OR United States
Let me start by saying that if you like the Alex Delaware series, you're going to like this book. All the elements are there: observant Alex, spinning his theories; the psychologists'-eye view of the universe; adult characters warped by childhood traumas. In addition, the book takes the series onto new ground. More than ever, we see Alex's weaknesses, both through his own eyes as he surveys the damage he's wrought to his relationship with Robin, his long-term love, and through those of his detective friend Milo, who serves as an alternative viewpoint character. We also see Alex contrasted to a superbly caring older psychologist named Bert-a colorful character who sees only magenta, black, and white, and who's appeared in at least one prior book. But I can't give this book five stars, even though I myself am a professional fiction writer who owes a debt to Kellerman. There are two moderately large problems. The first of the large ones is the decision to use Milo as an alternative viewpoint character. A book told entirely from Milo's viewpoint would be very interesting. But this one alternates Alex's first-person point of view with Milo's third-person viewpoint. It's an interesting experiment but inherently doomed. First-person POV weds the reader solidly to a single character. However interesting Milo's POV is (and he's a great viewpoint character), the switch from Alex is jarring. Kellerman is boldly attempting to break free of the mold he's cast for himself, but the mold is too strong. The second problem is the Murder Book of the title. Other reviews have explained what it is, so I won't repeat. Suffice it to say that it's an extremely indirect attempt to communicate a message to Milo, via Alex. But it always felt like artificial-too much like a story in which a dying character, instead of naming his killer directly, reveals it in code. Kellerman needed to make me believe that the book's author had no option but to speak so indirectly. I didn't buy it. Still, Kellerman is always a good read. He's an astute observer of culture, behavioral quirks, and the dark side of contemporary LA. Ultimately, it didn't matter that much that I didn't care about the villain's identity. In a book like this, it's the trip that matters, not the destination, and the trip wasn't bad at all. Four stars.