Nice Work Review of Books: Obsession

Jonathan Kellerman’s most recent mystery thriller about Milo the cop and Alex the Pediatric Psychiatrist did the trick. Compulsion (reviewed elsewhere in these pages) was a “tale well calculated to keep you in… suspense!” So I lifted the embargo on Milo Sturgis/Alex Delaware potboilers imposed after reading the over-the-top sadistic conclusion of Kellerman’s 2005 outing, Rage. Not that the child abuser of that novel didn’t deserve what he got, but, geez, Jonathan, give your readers a break, willya? We didn’t do it!

Anyhow, I went back one to his second-to-last Milo/Alex thriller, Obsession — read it as an eBook on my lil Palm PDA — and am happy to report it’s a heapin’ helpin’ of what the audience paid for:

The Kellerman Tour of L.A. begins thus:

“Not a whodunit,” said Milo. “A did-it-even-happen?”

I said, “You think it’s a waste of time.”

“Don’t you?”

I shrugged. We both drank.

That’s the stuff! And it ends with Milo addressing a stunned couple of paramedics:

Standing and removing his jacket and dripping blood. Shouting, “O-positive in case anyone’s remotely interested.”

In between Milo and Alex talk to lots of Angelinos and it’s this dialogue that keeps bringing me back to Mr. K. That ear for how people actually speak. A cop asks Milo’s advice on how to proceed on a case. He answers, “It was me, I’d keep it basic.”

I love that “It was me” for “If it were me.” That’s what Milo would really say. I also like the withering Chandleresque wordplay, like the description of a thug’s “heavy black mustache, right-angled down to his chin like a croquet wicket.”

Obsession features more murder than I, for one, experience in a normal week, but less than in your usual serial killer novel and it ends with a burst of rat-a-tat action that falls, thank goshness, way short of the I Spit On Your Grave excess of Rage. So this happy reader set his PDA down on the bedstand with a sweet smile, turned off the light, and drifted into a night of only mildly scarring nightmares. FOUR STARS and a CUP OF JOE!! ☆✬✰✪☕

by Jonathan Kellerman
(Ballantine Books, Mass Market Paperback, 458pp.)

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