A bodiless head has been found in a house in Hollywood; from the evidence, it doesn’t appear that the decapitation was done at the house. Jacob Lev, an L.A. police detective who has lost his enthusiasm for the job, is transferred, out of the blue, to a department he’s never heard of called Special Projects. His first assignment: find out to whom the head belongs, how it found its way to Hollywood, and why the Hebrew word for justice was found near the head. Lev thinks he was assigned to this weird murder case because he’s Jewish, but as he’ll soon discover, this is a case that will change his life, a case he was almost predestined to solve. Combining the procedural structure of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels with the character-driven plotting of son Jesse’s fiction, the novel is a solidly plotted thriller that takes its compelling lead character, Detective Lev, deep into some Old World mysteries (the word golem in the title proves key to the story). Very nicely done.
This review originally appeared in Booklist, September 2014.