Victims, Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine)

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In the latest Alex Delaware novel, solving a series of murders requires putting together a particularly difficult jigsaw puzzle. What do several seemingly unconnected victims have in common? As psychologist Delaware and LAPD detective Milo Sturgis struggle to put the pieces of the puzzle together, the body count keeps growing: a nasty, friendless woman; an accountant; a married couple; a homeless man. Clues are hard to come by, and even when Delaware begins to get a glimpse of the big picture, it’s fuzzy, the killer’s identity hidden, perhaps forever, in the shadows of history. The first Delaware novel, When the Bough Breaks, was published in 1985, but Kellerman has kept the series from devolving into mere formula by finding new variations on the psychological-forensic-thriller format. This one is presented as a procedural, and, as with Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels, it’s the step-by-step process of the investigation that keeps us turning the pages. In the long-running Delaware series, this one is in the top tier.

This review originally appeared in Booklist, January 2012.

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