Monday, April 11, 2011


"Mystery" by award-winning author Jonathan Kellerman is a satisfying but not spectacular crime novel.
It's the 26th entry in his long-running series starring Los Angeles psychologist Alex Delaware and hard-working Detective Milo Sturgis.

It begins easily enough, with Delaware and his wife Robin enjoying dinner at a restaurant in a fancy old hotel that's about to be closed permanently.

They notice a beautiful, stylish, well-dressed young woman at another table, apparently anxiously awaiting someone.

A few days later, Sturgis contacts Delaware about an odd case - a body that has been dumped on the outskirts of the city. The victim turns out to be the woman from the restaurant, although there's no ID and the corpse was found miles away from the hotel.

Delaware and Sturgis work to put together clues, first trying to figure out who she was and how she got there.

The police assume that there are two killers, since the woman died from simultaneous wounds from two different caliber weapons. They get a tip that leads to information about the homicide victim. She called herself "Mystery" on a website devoted to pairing up beautiful women with older, rich men.

It gets darker and sleazier from there, as Delaware and Sturgis uncover dark secrets of the exceptionally wealthy.

They're also seeking information about a missing bodyguard who has ties to the victim.

Kellerman throws in another sub-plot involving a dying madam and the counseling of her young, worried son. The woman, who ran a successful call girl operation for many years, provides valuable, useful insights into the case.

There are a variety of intriguing suspects; another body is discovered that is related to the case. Stakeouts are necessary when a pair of possible suspects emerge.

The solution to the complicated case requires significant research by Delaware; the final confrontation is long-winded and shows him making many assumptions.

The frenzied atmosphere of life in Los Angeles is well utilized by Kellerman. His brisk dialog, sometimes similar to Ed McBain, is likely to hook many readers.

Longtime Kellerman fans won't really be disappointed with this release; newcomers can easily follow the action without grabbing earlier books in this popular series.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing's Curious Book Shop, 
has reviewed crime novels and Michigan books regularly since 1987.

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on April 10, 2011.

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