When Milo Sturgis, the LAPD homicide detective, catches a particularly tricky case, he naturally turns for help to his good friend and frequent partner, psychologist Alex Delaware. At first it looks like a straightforward suicide: a woman records a message on a DVD and then kills herself. But the facts are all wrong. The DVD isn’t a suicide message; it’s an accusation against some of her colleagues at an elite prep school. In addition, the victim’s home computer is missing, and she died by being submerged in dry ice, a particularly slow and painful means of death, hardly a common suicide method. Milo and Alex think it’s murder, and there’s no shortage of potential suspects—the victim’s colleagues, her boyfriend, and others—but, as usual, getting to the heart of the matter requires plenty of investigation and a certain amount of danger. The Delaware novels follow a pretty straightforward formula, but that’s OK: Delaware and Sturgis are engaging characters with whom fans enjoy spending time, as will devotees of Stephen J. Cannell (for the L.A. setting and the procedural aspects), Ridley Pearson (for the cop-psychologist team), and Mark Schorr (for the psychologist as amateur sleuth).
This review originally appeared in Booklist, February 2010.