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Friday, June 3, 2011

Compulsion by Johnathan Kellerman

This is book #22 in the Alex Delaware series.  Read on Audiobook and no, I have not read the first 21 books in the series...

From A tipsy young woman seeking aid on a desolate highway disappears into the inky black night. A retired schoolteacher is stabbed to death in broad daylight. Two women are butchered after closing time in a small-town beauty parlor. These and other bizarre acts of cruelty and psychopathology are linked only by the killer's use of luxury vehicles and a baffling lack of motive. The ultimate whodunits, these crimes demand the attention of LAPD detective Milo Sturgis and his collaborator on the crime beat, psychologist Alex Delaware.

What begins with a solitary bloodstain in a stolen sedan quickly spirals outward in odd and unexpected directions, leading Delaware and Sturgis from the well-heeled center of L.A. society to its desperate edges; across the paths of commodities brokers and transvestite hookers; and as far away as New York City, where the search thaws out a long-cold case and exposes a grotesque homicidal crusade. The killer proves to be a fleeting shape-shifter, defying identification, leaving behind dazed witnesses and death -- and compelling Alex and Milo to confront the true face of murderous madness.

This is my first introduction to Johnathon Kellerman and the world of Alex Delaware.  There are quite possibly nuaces to the characters that I am not aware of, a history so to speak, that may flesh out some of the lingering background questions I have to their personalities.  With that being said, this book was written well enough to be read as a stand alone. 

While the book is promoted as an Alex Delaware book, I found that Milo was the stronger of the two characters and more dynamic.  This could be explained in that the story is written from Alex's POV so one really doesn't get a look into his psyche or character - and this is where coming in at book #22 is a detriment.   Alex just seemed to go along for the ride, doing a bit of investigating here and there to ultimately report back to Milo where the pieces to the puzzle kept filling out.  

And I was okay with that.  I've read enough mysteries where the detective is running hither and tither and getting shot at that having a consulting psychologist who helps by being a sounding board was rather a literary relief.  A very nice change of pace.

So while I found the mystery to be intricate enough and well executed to keep my attention (I certainly didn't figure out the whodoneit a quarter of the way in), I think I need to see if there are any earlier books on audio format to really get a good feel for the Alex Delaware character.  For now: recommended.

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