Deception, by Jonathan Kellerman

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Several months ago I wrote an open letter to Jonathan Kellerman, begging him to create story lines in his Alex Delaware novels that actually took advantage of Delaware's considerable psychiatric knowledge.  My fear was that he would devolve into a sidekick for Milo Sturgis, the gruff detective who is his best friend.  Apparently I had reason to be concerned.

Deception is the story of the murder of a teacher, Elise Freeman, at an exclusive prep school called Windsor Prep in Los Angeles.  After her body is discovered in a bathtub full of dry ice, a DVD is found in her apartment that shows her accusing three different colleagues at the school of sexual harassment, and stating that she is afraid for her own safety.  Milo is called in to investigate, and asks Alex to come along to give his input into the validity of the DVD.  Despite the DVDs claim of victimhood, they soon discover that Freeman had engaged in some criminal activity of her own, and while the sexual harassment claims might not hold true, something fishy is definitely going on at Windsor Prep.

When I read the jacket blurb, and even when reading the first part of the novel, I was sure that this was going to be a case where Alex could use his extensive knowledge of the human mind to outwit a killer.  Even the setting seemed promising-after all, child psychology is Delaware's specialty.  Unfortunately, the plot turned out to be sordid and banal, and once again Dr. Delaware seemed to do almost nothing but follow Sturgis around and act as his sounding board. 

Mr. Kellerman, please, as much as I love the Alex Delaware novels, let him retire gracefully.  He has apparently outlived his usefulness as a character, if the story lines you are developing around him don't actually require him to do anything.  I imagine that your publishers probably want you to crank out one a year, but you are a better author than that, and surely you already have more money than most of us will make in two lifetimes.  Give me a new book with Reed/Fox, or a new Petra Connor novel.  I just don't think that I can continue reading Alex Delaware books only to watch him fade away from the vital, fiercely intelligent character he has always been.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't read this one yet, but I quit buying Kellerman's books long ago. It will be awhile before I get this one from the library, given the waiting list.

    I wonder if JK is tired of Alex Delaware? I'd love to read another one featuring Petra Connor (who has lately made occasional walk-on appearances in the books).


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