Thursday, April 17, 2014

Killer by Jonathan Kellerman--Book Review

Photo, from Kellerman's Facebook page
Another step in the right direction from Kellerman, whose last book, Guilt, was also very good.  Both novels are more readable and much less judgmental than were his previous 8 to 10 works, perhaps more.  The last two books are also much less vicious and violent.

By now, if you've read Kellerman's twenty-nine Alex Delaware novels as I have, you've figured out his formula: The first 10%-20% of the work sets up the very large cast of characters, their backgrounds, and any of the many conflicts that may--but often, not--have anything to do with the book's major crime.

Then the vast majority of the book is Q & A between Delaware and Milo and the large population of characters in the victim's lives.  There's a ton of supposition, a lot of maybe this and perhaps that, by Delaware and Milo and many of the supporting cast.  The vast majority of the time, none of it pans out.

About 80% to 85% of the way through, we meet a seemingly-minor character who rings Delaware's alarms.  That starts the unraveling.  The rest of the book is a slippery slide to the ending, which neatly wraps things up.

This has always been Kellerman's M.O., though a few times in the past, the seemingly-irrelevant character would come completely out of left field.  As a consequence, the reader (well, at least this reader) would feel cheated and more than a little aggravated.  In this genre, you have to give the reader at least a chance--however small--to be able to figure it out (or at least to suspect) who the killer might be, and what might have happened.

That's what happens here, with Killer.  (A ridiculous title, as it could have been the name of any of his novels, and there's more than one killer here, anyway.)

The unraveling happened when and how I figured, and I honed in on the seemingly-irrelevant character right away.  The character appears when I suspected, as per the blueprint above.  This was aided because I wasn't buying all of the suppositions Delaware and Kellerman were selling.

Ultimately, this was a very quick and satisfying read, done just right.

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