Evidence, Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine)

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The twenty-fourth Alex Delaware thriller (the series debuted in 1985, with When the Bough Breaks) is a tightly plotted story of murder and conspiracy. This is familiar ground for the mystery genre, familiar, too, for Kellerman, but over the years, he has proven himself adept at working interesting variations on familiar themes. As usual, the characters take center stage: Delaware, the crime-solving psychologist, and Milo Sturgis, the L.A. homicide detective. The story begins with the discovery of a murdered man and woman, their bodies evidently posed to simulate an intimate act. Following the trail of evidence (the Delaware novels generally stick to the police-procedural format), Delaware and Sturgis gradually realize this was no simple homicide. But as interesting as the story is, it’s the two leads, who are like old friends to us by now, who capture our interest: two men who figure they must have seen it all and who are shocked, frightened, and saddened by the depravity they encounter now. Although the Delaware novels have appeared roughly one a year since 1985, they have never felt rushed or lost their punch. Kellerman knows his characters and their world so well that he always finds new things to say about them. And we keep happily reading.

This review originally appeared in Booklist, October 2009.

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