City of the Dead

Mysterious Book Report No. 475

by John Dwaine McKenna

City of the Dead, (Ballantine, $28.99, 336 pages, ISBN 978-0-525-61858-4), by Jonathan Kellerman is his 37th book featuring the duo of LAPD consulting psychologist Alex Delaware and Los Angeles Police Department Detective Milo Sturgis—now a Lieutenant, and an openly gay homicide investigator—whose solve rate is “close to 100 percent.”

The novel opens with the body of a naked and very dead man who’s been hit by a moving van in the Westwood section of the city near the UCLA campus.  Then, just as the reader begins to focus on the mystery of the naked man, the first of a series of plot twists . . . and a trail of blood droplets . . . lead the cops to a second body in a nearby house; it’s a woman named Cordelia Gannett, who’s been stabbed to death, whom Delaware recognizes from a child custody case he testified in two years previous.  Gannett claimed to be a psychologist, but was exposed as a fraud.  Now, she’s been selling herself on the web as a “relationship expert.” As Lt. Sturgis and Alex Delaware try to identify the nude man and look into Gannett’s activities, a number of other crimes and fascinating characters begin to emerge in this entertaining whodunnit.  The insights of Mr. Kellerman, who’s an actual trained psychologist, are always spot-on, educational and enlightening as he digs into the minds of his interesting, but damaged human beings.  Reading this novel however, was like slipping into an old flannel shirt and a comfortable chair, then spending the evening conversing with two old friends.  Interesting and familiar . . . but not much in the way of drama and excitement.

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