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Twisted

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Hollywood homicide detective Petra Connor has helped psychologist Alex Delaware crack tough cases in the past. And in Jonathan Kellerman’s New York Times bestseller Billy Straight she took the lead in the desperate hunt for a teenage runaway stalked by a vengeful murderer. Now the complex and wryly compassionate Petra is once again at the center of the action, in a novel of cunning twists and page-turning suspense.

Lifeless bodies sprawl in a dance-club parking lot after a ...

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Overview

Hollywood homicide detective Petra Connor has helped psychologist Alex Delaware crack tough cases in the past. And in Jonathan Kellerman’s New York Times bestseller Billy Straight she took the lead in the desperate hunt for a teenage runaway stalked by a vengeful murderer. Now the complex and wryly compassionate Petra is once again at the center of the action, in a novel of cunning twists and page-turning suspense.

Lifeless bodies sprawl in a dance-club parking lot after a brutal L.A. drive-by. Of the four seemingly random victims, one stands out: a girl with pink shoes who cannot be identified–and who, days later, remains a Jane Doe. With zero leads and no apparent motive, it’s another case destined for the cold file–until Petra decides to follow her instincts and descends into a world of traveling grifters and bloodthirsty killers, pursuing a possible eyewitness whose life is in mortal danger.

Finding her elusive quarry–alive–isn’t all Petra has on her plate: departmental politics threatens to sabotage her case, and her personal life isn’t doing much better. If all that wasn’t enough, Isaac Gomez, a whiz-kid grad student researching homicide statistics at the station house, is convinced he’s stumbled upon a bizarre connection between several unsolved murders. The victims had nothing in common, yet each died by the same method, on the same date–a date that’s rapidly approaching again. And that leaves Petra with little time to unravel the twisted logic of a cunning predator who’s evaded detection for years–and whose terrible hour is once more at hand.

“Why is it so hard to put down a Kellerman thriller?” asks Publishers Weekly. “It’s simple: the nonstop action leaves you breathless; the plot twists keep you guessing; the themes . . . are provocative.” Those in need of still further proof that “Kellerman has shaped the psychological mystery novel into an art form” (Los Angeles Times Book Review) need look no further than Twisted.

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Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Why is it so hard to put down a Kellerman thriller?" asks Publishers Weekly. "It's simple: the nonstop action leaves you breathless; the plot twists keep you guessing; the themes . . . are provocative." Those in need of still further proof that "Kellerman has shaped the psychological mystery novel into an art form"
Patrick Anderson
So how do these horrid murders get solved? Well, as you might guess, our young genius has a lot to do with it. Beyond that, let's just say that Kellerman's solution to the serial killings is highly fanciful, like the resolution of some of the Sherlock Holmes stories but perhaps colorful enough to please most readers. It will not please those purists who seek gritty crime stories with logical endings, but Kellerman isn't writing for them. If, however, you've got a long flight ahead, or a slow afternoon at the beach, the rambling, readable Twisted might suit you fine.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Hollywood homicide detective Petra Connor takes center stage in bestseller Kellerman's elaborate, suspenseful, albeit improbable, thriller. Connor, who assisted Kellerman's main series detective, psychologist Alex Delaware, in 2003's A Cold Heart, proves an engaging protagonist, fully capable of carrying a story on her own. She's investigating a seemingly random drive-by shooting that claimed four teenage victims when a precocious 22-year-old graduate student intern, Isaac Gomez, presents her with evidence that a serial killer has struck on the same day, June 28, every year for the past six years. Though his proof relies entirely on a statistical analysis he's performed, his unquestioned brilliance prompts Connor to do a little extracurricular digging that turns up suggestive clues supporting Gomez's theory. Meanwhile, after doggedly pursuing even the slightest lead in the drive-by shooting case, Connor suspects that one of the victims, perhaps the one who wasn't claimed by any next-of-kin, was deliberately targeted. While Connor finds the socially immature Gomez to be a challenging assistant, he displays considerable cool in the climactic showdown with the June 28 killer. Despite a last minute plot twist that comes out of left field, this is vintage Kellerman, sure to please his legions of fans. Agent, Barney Karpfinger. (Dec. 1) Forecast: A Literary Guild and Mystery Guild main selection, and a BOMC, QPB and Doubleday featured selection, this one should hit most bestseller lists. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Forbes Magazine
Petra Connor, a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective, is investigating a drive-by shooting that left four teenagers dead. The plot thickens when an amazing young man, Isaac Gomez, an intern who is doing research for his Ph.D. dissertation, uncovers a set of seemingly unrelated murders that turn out to be the work of one individual. Every year on June 28 someone is killed after being hit on the head from behind. It's clear an unconventional serial killer is at work. There are plenty of twists and turns, including Ms. Connor's being suspended from duty for overzealousness by petty, bureaucratically minded department officials. (20 Jun 2005)
—Steve Forbes
Library Journal
Petra Connor (Billy Straight) returns as an LAPD homicide detective trying to solve an enduring mystery. Every June 28 for the last six years in Los Angeles, someone has been murdered. As the gruesome anniversary approaches, Connor teams with boy-wonder Isaac Gomez, a part-time LAPD intern. Gomez's statistical analysis convinces Connor that the annual murders are not coincidental, and Connor, in turn, shows Gomez what life is like inside the homicidal Los Angeles underworld. Just 22 and a year away from a dual Ph.D. in epidemiology and biostatistics, Gomez finds some of his most compelling research outside of the classroom. This work is sure to be another best seller for Kellerman, but it lacks some of the edge of his previous novels, owing perhaps to the absence of Delaware, a more dynamic protagonist than Connor. Still, Kellerman's trademarks of complex characterization and suspenseful twists recommends his latest novel to any fiction collection.-Ken Bolton, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Praise for Jonathan Kellerman and The Conspiracy Club

“AN UNNERVING, HIGHLY CINEMATIC PLOT . . . [Kellerman has] headed off into different terrain . . . with striking success in this latest quick-witted outing.”
–JANET MASLIN, The New York Times

“Grabs the reader's attention and never lets go.”
Associated Press

“[Kellerman] keeps the creepiness coming until the big-twist finish.”
People

“Turn the page and you're hooked.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Eerie...tantalizing.”
Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345465269
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/27/2005
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 4.16 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Kellerman
Jonathan Kellerman is one of the world’s most popular authors. He has brought his expertise as a clinical psychologist to numerous bestselling tales of suspense (which have been translated into two dozen languages), including seventeen Alex Delaware novels; The Butcher’s Theater, a story of serial killing in Jerusalem; and Billy Straight, featuring Hollywood homicide detective Petra Connor. He is also the author of numerous essays, short stories, and scientific articles, two children’s books, and three volumes of psychology, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony awards, and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. He and his wife, the novelist Faye Kellerman, have four children.

Biography

"I like to say that as a psychologist I was concerned with the rules of human behavior," Jonathan Kellerman has said. "As a novelist, I'm concerned with the exceptions." Both roles are evident in Kellerman's string of bestselling psychological thrillers, in which he probes the hidden corners of the human psyche with a clinician's expertise and a novelist's dark imagination.

Kellerman worked for years as a child psychologist, but his first love was writing, which he started doing at the age of nine. After reading Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novels, however, Kellerman found his voice as a writer -- and his calling as a suspense novelist. His first published novel, When the Bough Breaks, featured a child psychologist, Dr. Alex Delaware, who helps solve a murder case in which the only apparent witness is a traumatized seven-year-old girl. The book was an instant hit; as New York's Newsday raved, "[T]his knockout of an entertainment is the kind of book which establishes a career in one stroke."

Kellerman has since written a slew more Alex Delaware thrillers; not surprisingly, the series hero shares much of Kellerman's own background. The books often center on problems of family psychopathology—something Kellerman had ample chance to observe in his day job. The Delaware novels have also chronicled the shifting social and cultural landscape of Los Angeles, where Kellerman lives with his wife (who is also a health care practitioner-turned-novelist) and their four children.

A prolific author who averages one book a year, Kellerman dislikes the suggestion that he simply cranks them out. He has a disciplined work schedule, and sits down to write in his office five days a week, whether he feels "inspired" or not. "I sit down and start typing. I think it's important to deromanticize the process and not to get puffed up about one's abilities," he said in a 1998 chat on Barnes & Noble.com. "Writing fiction's the greatest job in the world, but it's still a job. All the successful novelists I know share two qualities: talent and a good work ethic."

And he does plenty of research, drawing on medical databases and current journals as well as his own experience as a practicing psychologist. Then there are the field trips: before writing Monster, Kellerman spent time at a state hospital for the criminally insane.

Kellerman has taken periodic breaks from his Alex Delaware series to produce highly successful stand-alone novels that he claims have helped him to gain some needed distance from the series characters. It's a testament to Kellerman's storytelling powers that the series books and the stand-alones have both gone over well with readers; clearly, Kellerman's appeal lies more in his dexterity than in his reliance on a formula. "Often mystery writers can either plot like devils or create believable characters," wrote one USA Today reviewer. "Kellerman stands out because he can do both. Masterfully."

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Jonathan Kellerman:
"I am the proud husband of a brilliant novelist, Faye Kellerman. I am the proud father of a brilliant novelist, Jesse Kellerman. And three lovely, gifted daughters, one of whom, Aliza, may turn out to be one of the greatest novelists/poets of this century. "

"My first job was selling newspapers on a corner, age 12. Then I delivered liquor, age 16 -- the most engaging part of that gig was schlepping cartons of bottles up stairways in building without elevators. Adding insult to injury, tips generally ranged from a dime to a quarter. And, I was too young to sample the wares. Subsequent jobs included guitar teacher, freelance musician, newspaper cartoonist, Sunday School teacher, youth leader, research/teaching assistant. All of that simplified when I was 24 and earned a Ph.D. in psychology. Another great job. Then novelist? Oh, my, an embarrassment of riches. Thank you, thank you, thank you, kind readers. I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

"I paint, I play the guitar, I like to hang out with intelligent people whose thought processes aren't by stereotype, punditry, political correctness, etc. But enough about me. The important thing is The Book."

More fun facts:
After Kellerman called his literary agent to say that his wife, Faye, had written a novel, the agent reluctantly agreed to take a look ("Later, he told me his eyes rolled all the way back in his head," Kellerman said in an online chat). Two weeks later, a publisher snapped up Faye Kellerman's first book, The Ritual Bath. Faye Kellerman has since written many more mysteries featuring L.A. cop Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus, including the bestsellers Justice and Jupiter's Bones.

When Kellerman wrote When the Bough Breaks in 1981, crime novels featuring gay characters were nearly nonexistent, so Alex Delaware's gay detective friend, Milo Sturgis, was a rarity. Kellerman admits it can be difficult for a straight writer to portray a gay character, but says the feedback he's gotten from readers -- gay and straight -- has been mostly positive.

In his spare time, Kellerman is a musician who collects vintage guitars. He once placed the winning online auction bid for a guitar signed by Don Henley and his bandmates from the Eagles; proceeds from the sale were donated to the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

In addition to his novels, Kellerman has written two children's books and three nonfiction books, including Savage Spawn, about the backgrounds and behaviors of child psychopaths.

But for a 1986 television adaptation of When the Bough Breaks, none of Kellerman's work has yet made it to screen. "I wish I could say that Hollywood's beating a path to my door," he said in a Barnes & Noble.com chat in 1998, "but the powers-that-be at the studios don't seem to feel that my books lend themselves to film adaptation. The most frequent problem cited is too much complexity."

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    1. Hometown:
      Beverly Hills, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 9, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in psychology, University of California-Los Angeles; Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1974
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

May brought azure skies and California optimism to Hollywood. Petra Connor worked nights and slept through the blue. She had her own reason to be cheerful: solving two whodunit murders.

The first was a dead body at a wedding. The Ito-Park wedding, main ballroom of the Roosevelt Hotel, Japanese-American bride, Korean-American groom, a couple of law students who’d met at the U. Her father, a Glendale-born surgeon; his, an immigrant appliance dealer, barely able to speak English. Petra wondered about culture clash.

The body was one of the bride’s cousins, a thirty-two-year-old CPA named Baldwin Yoshimura, found midway through the reception, in an unlocked stall of the hotel men’s room, his neck twisted so hard, he looked like something out of The Exorcist. It took strong hands to do that, the coroner pronounced, but that was where the medical wisdom terminated.

Petra, working with no partner once again, talked to every friend and relative and finally unearthed the fact that Baldwin Yoshimura had been a serious lothario who’d made no distinction between married and unmarried conquests. As she continued to probe, she encountered nervous glances on the bride’s side. Finally, a third cousin named Wendy Sakura blurted out the truth: Baldwin had been fooling with his brother Darwin’s wife. The slut.

Darwin, a relative black sheep for this highly educated clan, was a martial arts instructor who worked at a studio in Woodland Hills. Petra forced herself to wake up during daylight, dropped in at the dojo, watched him put an advanced judo class through its paces. Stocky little guy, shaved head, pleasant demeanor. When the class was over, he approached Petra, arms extended for cuffing, saying, “I did it. Arrest me.”

Back at the station, he refused a lawyer, couldn’t wait to spill: Suspicious for some time, he’d followed his wife and his brother as they left the wedding and entered an unused banquet room. After passing behind a partition, said wife gave said sib enthusiastic head. Darwin allowed her to finish, waited until Baldwin went to the john, confronted his brother, did the deed.

“What about your wife?” said Petra.

“What about her?”

“You didn’t hurt her.”

“She’s a woman,” said Darwin Yoshimura. “She’s weak. Baldwin should’ve known better.”

The second whodunit started off as bloodstains in Los Feliz and ended up with d.b. out in Angeles Crest National Forest. This victim was a grocer named Bedros Kashigian. The blood was found in the parking lot behind his market on Edgemont. Kashigian and his five-year-old Cadillac were missing.

Two days later, forest rangers found the Caddy pulled to the side of the road in the forest, Kashigian’s body slumped behind the wheel. Dried blood had streamed out of his left ear, run onto his face and shirt, but no obvious wounds. Maggot analysis said he’d been dead the entire two days, or close to it. Meaning, instead of driving home from work, he’d made his way thirty miles east. Or had been taken there.

As far as Petra could tell, the grocer was a solid citizen, married, three kids, nice house, no outstanding debts. But a solid week of investigating Kashigian’s activities gave rise to the fact that he’d been involved in a brawl two days before his disappearance.

Barroom melee at a place on Alvarado. Latino clientele, but Kashigian had a thing for one of the Salvadoran waitresses and went there frequently to nurse beer-and-shots before retiring to her room above the saloon. The fracas got going when two drunks started pounding each other. Kashigian got caught in the middle and ended up being punched in the head. Only once, according to the bartender. An errant bare fist and Kashigian had left the bar on his feet.

Kashigian’s widow, dealing with her loss as well as the new insight that Bedros had been cheating on her, said hubby had complained of a headache, attributing it to banging his head against a bread rack. Couple of aspirins, he’d seemed fine.

Petra phoned the coroner, an unconscionably cheerful guy named Rosenberg, and asked if a single, bare-knuckle blow to the head could be fatal two days after the fact. Rosenberg said he doubted it.

A scan of Bedros Kashigian’s insurance records showed hefty whole life and first-to-die policies as well as medical claims paid five years ago, when the grocer had been involved in a nine-car pileup on the 5 North that had shattered his skull and caused intracranial bleeding. Brought into the E.R. unconscious, Kashigian had been wheeled into surgery where a half-dollar-sized piece of skull had been sawed off so his brain could be cleaned up. That section, labeled a “roundel” by Rosenberg, had been reattached using sutures and screws.

After hearing about the accident, Rosenberg had changed his mind.

“The roundel was anchored by scar tissue,” he told Petra. “And the darn thing grew back thinner than the rest of the skull. Unfortunately for your guy, that’s exactly where he took the punch. The rest of his head could have withstood the impact but the thin spot couldn’t. It shattered, drove bone slivers into his brain, caused a slow bleed, and finally boom.”

“Boom,” said Petra. “There you go again, blinding me with jargon.”

The coroner laughed. Petra laughed. Neither of them wanting to think about Bedros Kashigian’s monumental bad luck.

“A single punch,” she said.

“Boom,” said Rosenberg.

“Tell me this, Doctor R., could he have driven to the forest out of confusion?”

“Let me think about that. With shards of bone slicing into his gray matter, a slow bleed, yeah, he could’ve been hazy, disoriented.”

Which didn’t explain why Angeles Crest, specifically.

She asked Captain Schoelkopf if she should pursue homicide charges against the guy who’d landed the punch.

“Who is he?”

“Don’t know yet.”

“A bar fight.” Schoelkopf flashed her the are-you-retarded? look. “Write it up as an accidental death.”

Lacking the will—or the desire—to argue, she complied, then went to inform the widow. Who told her Angeles Crest was where she and Bedros used to go to make out when they were teenagers.

“At least he left me some good insurance,” said the woman. “The main thing is my kids stay in private school.”

Within days after closing both files, the loneliness set in. Petra had made the mistake of getting intimate with a partner, and now she was working and living solo.

The object of her affections was a strange, taciturn detective named Eric Stahl with a military background as an Army special services officer and a history that had unfurled slowly. The first time Petra had seen his black suit, pale skin, and flat, dark eyes she’d thought undertaker. She’d disliked him instinctively and the feeling appeared mutual. Somehow things had changed.

They’d started working together on the Cold Heart homicides, coordinating with Milo Sturgis in West L.A. to put away a scumbag psychopath who got off on dispatching creative types. Closing that one hadn’t come easy; Eric had nearly died of stab wounds. Sitting, waiting, in the E.R. waiting room, Petra had met his parents, learned why he didn’t talk or emote or act remotely human.

He’d once had a family—wife and two kids—but had lost everything. Heather, Danny, and Dawn. Taken from him cruelly. He’d resigned his military commission, spent a year doped up on antidepressants, then applied to the LAPD, where connections got him a Detective I appointment, Hollywood Division, where Schoelkopf had foisted him on Petra.

Whatever Schoelkopf knew he’d kept to himself. Uninformed, Petra tried to get along, but faced with a partner with all the warmth of ceramic tile, she soon gave up. The two of them ended up splitting chores, minimizing the time they spent together. Long, cold, silent stakeouts.

Then came a night full of terror. Even now, Petra wondered if Eric had been trying to commit Suicide by Perp. She’d never brought it up. Had no reason to.

She had not been the only woman in his life. During the Cold Heart investigation, he’d met an exotic dancer, a bubble-headed blonde with a perfect body named Kyra Montego aka Kathy Magary. Kyra was there in the waiting room, too, stuffed into too-small duds, sniffling into her hankie, examining her nails, unable to read the dumbest magazine out of anxiety or what Petra suspected was attention span disorder. Petra outlasted the bimbo, and when Eric woke up, it was her hand holding his, her eyes locking with his bruised, brown irises.

During the months of recuperation, Kyra kept dropping in at Eric’s rented bungalow in Studio City, bearing takeout soup and plastic utensils. Offering plastic boobs and batting eyelashes and Lord knew what else.

Petra dealt with that by cooking for Eric. Growing up with five brothers and a widowed father in Arizona, she’d learned to be pretty handy around the kitchen. During the brief time her marriage lasted, she’d played at gourmet. Now a nighthawk divorcée, she rarely bothered to switch on the oven. But healing Eric with home-cooked goodies had seemed terribly urgent.

In the end, the bimbo was out of the picture and Petra was squarely in it. She and Eric went from awkwardness to reluctant self-disclosure to friendship to closeness. When they finally made love, he went at it with the fervor of a deprived animal. When they finally settled into regular sex, she found him the best lover she’d ever encountered, tender when she needed him to be, accommodatingly athletic when that was the daily special.

They split up as partners and continued as lovers. Living apart; Eric in the bungalow, Petra in her flat on Detroit off Sixth, near Museum Row. Then September 11 hit and Eric’s special forces background made the department look at him in a new way. Transferred out of Homicide to the newly formed Homeland Security Squad, he was sent overseas for antiterrorist training. This month it was Israel, learning about suicide bombers and profiling and things he couldn’t tell her about.

He called when he could, e-mailed her sporadically but couldn’t receive electronic messages. She’d last heard from him a week ago. Jerusalem was a beautiful city, the Israelis were tough and tactless and reasonably competent, he planned to be back in two weeks.

A postcard picturing the Citadel of David had arrived two days ago. Eric’s neat, forward-slanting script.

P.

Thinking of you, all’s o.k.

E.

Working solo suited her just fine, but she knew it was only a matter of time before some new transfer was foisted on her.

After closing Yoshimura and Kashigian, she took a couple of days off, figuring on a little downtime.

Instead, she got a bloodbath and Isaac Gomez.

CHAPTER 2

It happened the day she started painting again. Forcing herself to get up by ten and using the daylight to copy a Georgia O’Keeffe she’d always loved. Not flowers or skulls; a gray, vertical New York city scene from O’Keeffe’s early days.

Pure genius, no way could she hope to capture it, but the struggle would be good. It had been months since she’d lifted a brush and starting out was rough. But by two p.m., she was in the groove, doing pretty well, she thought. At six, she sat down to appraise her work and fell asleep on the living room couch.

A call from the station woke her up at one-fifteen a.m.

“Multiple one eighty-sevens at the Paradiso Club, Sunset near Western, all hands on deck,” said the dispatcher. “It’s probably on TV already.”

Petra flicked on the tube as she headed for the shower. The first network she tried was running the story.

A bunch of kids shot outside the Paradiso. Some sort of hip-hop concert, an altercation in the parking lot, gun-barrel poking out of a car window.

Four bodies.

By the time Petra got there the area had been cordoned and the victims were covered with coroner’s tarp. A quartet of bundles, lying at random angles under a blue-black Hollywood sky. The corner of one of the tarps had blown loose, revealing a sneakered foot. Pink sneaker, smallish.

High-intensity lights turned the parking lot glossy. What looked to be over a hundred kids, some of whom were way too young to be out this late, had been divided into several groups, shunted off to the side and guarded by uniformed officers. Five groups, all potential witnesses. The Paradiso, a movie theater–turned–evangelical church–turned– concert venue, could seat over a thousand. These kids were the chosen few.

Petra looked for other detectives, spotted Abrams, Montoya, Dilbeck, and Haas. Now that she was here, five D’s for five groups.

MacDonald Dilbeck was a DIII with over thirty years’ experience and he’d be the boss on this one.

She headed over to him. When she was ten yards away, he waved.

Mac was a sixty-one-year-old ex-Marine with silver, Brylcreemed hair and a gray sharkskin suit just as glossy. Skinny, rounded lapels marked the garment as a vintage collectible, but she knew he’d bought it new. A five-eight fireplug, Mac wore Aqua Velva, a faux-ruby high school ring, and an LAPD tie-bar. He lived in Simi Valley and his civilian ride was an old Caddy. On weekends he rode horses and Harleys. Married for forty years, Semper Fi tattoo on his biceps. Petra judged him smarter than most doctors and lawyers she’d met.

He said, “Sorry for screwing up your vacation.” His eyes were tired but his posture was perfect.

“Looks like we need all the help we can get.”

Mac’s mouth turned down. “It was a massacre. Four children.”

He drew her away from the bodies, toward the double-width driveway that led out to Western Avenue; they faced thin, early-morning traffic. “The concert ended at eleven-thirty, but kids hung around in the parking lot smoking, drinking, the typical shenanigans. Cars were leaving but one reversed direction and backed up toward the crowd. Slowly, so no one noticed. Then an arm stuck out and started shooting. Security guard was too far to see it but he heard a dozen shots. Four hits, all fatal, looks like a nine millimeter.

Petra glanced at the nearest group of kids. “They don’t look hardcore. What kind of concert was it?”

“Your basic lightweight hip-hop, dance remixes, some Latin stuff, nothing gangsta.”

Despite the horror, Petra felt a smile coming on. “Nothing gangsta?”

Dilbeck shrugged. “Grandkids. From what we’re hearing, it was a well-behaved crowd, couple of ejections for alcohol but nothing serious.”

“Who got ejected?”

“Three boys from the Valley. White, harmless, their parents picked them up. This wasn’t about that, Petra, but what it was about, who knows? Including our potential witnesses.”

“Nothing?” said Petra.

Dilbeck covered his eyes with one hand, used the other to blanket his mouth. “These are the kids unlucky enough to be sticking around when the black-and-whites arrived. All we’ve got out of them is a relatively consistent description of the shooter’s car. Small, black or dark blue or dark gray, most likely a Honda or a Toyota, with chrome rims. Not a single digit of license plate. When the shooting started, everyone dropped or ducked or ran.”

“But all these kids hung around.”

“Uniforms arrived within two minutes, Code Three,” said Dilbeck. “Didn’t let anyone leave.”

“Who called it in?”

“At least eight people. The official informant’s a bouncer.” He frowned. “The vics are two boys and two girls.”

“How old?”

“We I.D.’d three: fifteen, fifteen, and seventeen. The fourth, one of the girls, had no paper on her.”

“Nothing at all?”

Dilbeck shook his head. “Some poor parents are going to worry a lot and then hear the bad news. It stinks, doesn’t it? Maybe I should fold my tent.”

He’d been talking retirement for as long as Petra had known him.

She said, “I’ll fold before you will.”

“Probably,” he admitted.

“I’d like a look at the bodies before they get taken away.”

“Look to your heart’s content and then have a go at that nearest group, the one over there.”

Petra learned what she could about the victims.

Paul Allan Montalvo, two weeks from his sixteenth birthday. Chubby, round-faced, plaid shirt, black sweatpants. Smooth olive skin where it wasn’t distorted by a gunshot under his right eye. Two other holes in his legs.

Wanda Leticia Duarte, seventeen. Gorgeous, pale, with long black hair, rings on eight of her fingers, five ear-pierces. Three chest shots. Left side, bingo.

Kennerly Scott Dalkin, fifteen, looked closer to twelve. Fair-skinned, freckled, shaved head the color of putty. Black leather jacket and skull pendant hanging from a leather thong around the neck that had been pierced by a bullet. His getup and scuffed Doc Martens said he’d been aiming for tough, hadn’t even come close. In his wallet was a card proclaiming him to be a member of the honor society at Birmingham High.

The unidentified girl was probably Hispanic. Short, busty, with shoulder-length curly hair dyed rust at the tips. Tight white top, tight black jeans—Kmart house brand. Pink sneakers—the shoes Petra had spied—not much larger than a size five.

Another head shot, the puckered black hole just in front of her right ear. Four others in her torso. The pockets of her jeans had been turned inside out. Petra inspected her cheap leatherette purse. Chewing gum, tissues, twenty bucks cash, two packets of condoms.

Safe sex. Petra kneeled by the girl’s side. Then she got up to do her job.

Eighteen know-nothings.

She addressed them as a group, tried coming on gently, being a pal, stressing the importance of cooperation to prevent something like this from happening again. Her reward was eighteen blank stares. Pressing the group elicited a few slow head shakes. Maybe some of it was shock, but Petra sensed she was boring them.

“Nothing you can tell me?” she asked a slim, redheaded boy.

He scrunched his lips and shook his head.

She had them form a line, took down names and addresses and phone numbers, acted casual as she checked out their nonverbal behavior.

Two nervous ones stood out, a serious handwringer and a nonstop foot-tapper. Both girls. She held them back, let the others go.

Bonnie Ramirez and Sandra Leon, both sixteen. They dressed similarly—tight tops, low riders, and high-heeled boots—but didn’t know each other. Bonnie’s top was black, some sort of cheap crepelike fabric, and she’d caked her face with makeup to cover up gritty acne. Her hair was brown, frizzy, tied up in a complicated ’do that had taken hours to construct but managed to look careless. Still wringing her hands, as Petra reiterated the importance of being open and honest.

“I am honest,” she said. Fluent English, that musical East L.A. tincture that stretches final words.

“What about the car, Bonnie?”

“I told you, I didn’t see it.”

“Not at all?”

“Nothing. I gotta go, I really gotta go.”

Wring, wring, wring.

“What’s the rush, Bonnie?”

“George’s only babysitting till one and it’s way after that.”

“You’ve got a kid?”

“Two years old,” said Bonnie Ramirez, with a mixture of pride and amazement.

“Boy or girl?”

“Boy.”

“What’s his name?”

“Rocky.”

“Got a picture?”

Bonnie reached for her sequined handbag, then stopped herself. “What do you care? George said if I don’t get home on time he’ll like just leave and Rocky sometimes gets up like in the night, I don’t wanna him to be all like scared.”

“Who’s George?”

“The father,” said the girl. “Rocky’s a George, too. Jorge, Junior. I call him Rocky to make him different from George ’cause I don’t like how George acts.”

“How does George act?”

“He doesn’t give me nothing.”

u

Sandra Leon’s blouse was skin-hugging champagne satin, off one shoulder. Smooth, bare shoulder stippled by goose bumps. She’d stopped tapping her foot, switched to hugging herself tightly, bunching soft, unfettered breasts to the center of her narrow chest. Dark skin clashed with a huge mass of platinum blond hair. Deep red lipstick, an appliqué mole above her lip. She wore cheap, fake-o gold jewelry, lots of it. Her shoes were rhinestone mules. Parody of sexy; sixteen going on thirty.

Before Petra could ask, she said, “I don’t know nothing.”

Allowing her eyes to drift to the victims. To pink sneakers.

Petra said, “Wonder where she got those shoes.”

Sandra Leon looked everywhere but at Petra. “Why would I know?” Biting her lip.

“You okay?” said Petra.

The girl forced herself to meet Petra’s gaze. Her eyes were dull. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

Petra didn’t answer.

“Can I go now?”

“You’re sure there’s nothing you want to tell me?”

The dull eyes narrowed. Sudden hostility; it seemed misplaced. “I don’t even have to talk to you.”

“Says who?”

“The law.”

“You have experience with the law?” said Petra.

“Nope.”

“But you know the law.”

“My brother’s in jail.”

“Where?”

“Lompoc.”

“For what?”

“Stealing a car.”

“Your brother’s your legal expert?” said Petra. “Look where he is.”

Sandra shrugged. The platinum hair shifted.

A wig.

That made Petra take a closer look at her. Notice something else about the girl’s eyes. Dull because they were yellow around the edges.

“You okay?”

“I will be when you let me go.” Sandra Leon righted her hairpiece. Slipped a finger under the front and smiled. “Leukemia,” said the girl. “They gave me chemo at Western Peds. I used to have real nice hair. They say it’ll grow back but maybe they’re lying.”

Tears filled her eyes. “Can I go now?”

“Sure.”

The girl walked away.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Exciting

    LA Homicide Detective Petra Connor looks at the corpses of the four dead lying in a dance-club parking following a drive by massacre and wonders what connections beyond the club and death link these victims. A few days later, the girl in pink shoes remains a Jane Doe and the case is going nowhere frustrating Petra......................................... At the same time that Petra struggles with no leads except rumors of a possible witness in hiding, twenty-two years old Ph.D. candidate Isaac Gomez has been analyzing homicide statistical patterns. He believes he has uncovered a trend involving a murderer who murders on June 28th and has for six years in row. No one in LAPD seems interested in the genius¿ findings writing him off as intellectual civilian and thereby ignoring any connections between these homicides though the MO are the same and none have been resolved. No one that is except Petra who knows that June 28th is coming soon and with the help of this young genius plans to end the serial killing of a twisted genius............................... Petra is a strong effective cop as she makes her lead debut after being a minor player as an officer in A COLD HEART. However, she seems overshadowed by Isaac a refreshing character who brings trend analysis into the LAPD (and police procedurals) and struggles with what his family wants of him (not police work that for sure). The two prime cases are cleverly designed and Petra does a solid job, but TWISTED really soars when Isaac is front and center as even his personal life especially in the library is invigorating......................... Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2010

    Kellerman departs from Delaware, but provides fresh characters, a great read!

    From the first time I was introduced to Alex Delaware and his cop pal Milo Sturgis, I was hooked on Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware series, and only recently began playing catch up with the books I'd skipped - namely those featuring spin offs for other characters from the Delaware stories.

    Twisted is the second story featuring Detective Petra Conner, a tough but likeable character who shows up from time to time in the Delaware series. The book also introduces a new character Isaac Gomez, a young genius from low income background working toward his PhD.

    Assigned as an intern to the LAPD, he shows Petra the results of some extensive statistical sampling of homicide case data he has compiled, noting unusual similarities between six cold cases that have never previously been considered connected. Already up to her eyeballs in one murder case, Petra finds it hard to take it all seriously, but agrees to take at least take a look at the cases. One by one, as pieces of the puzzle begin falling into place the plot quickly begins building and the reader is in for lots of twists and turns.

    Kellerman's a master at balancing several interesting plotlines at once with intriguing characters, and superb suspense leading up to a surprising but believable conclusion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2005

    Dynamite Thriller

    I really enjoyed this book, glad Kellerman is developing other characters, I am tired of Milo and Alex. Interesting plot, kept me involved, good character development, only negative was its length. Definitely recommended!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2005

    Another great Kellerman

    I have really warmed up to Petra Connors, particularly her reflections on the people she meets and investigates. This story was very engaging, and had some really creepy moments - in a good way. The station-house politics were a welcome addition, a reminder of the actual frustrations involved in police work. (With the Alex Delaware stories, he is a free agent and doesn't have to answer to anybody.)The two major plotlines were both interesting, although I enjoyed the June killings more. My only gripe was that the ends were tied up a little too loosely, with no real explanation of how Isaac got where he did and how Petra handled her suspect. I wish the ending had been fleshed out a bit more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2005

    Twisted Mystery

    Kellerman delivers an elaborate, tangled web of a whodunit with unsuspected turns at every chapter break. This an addictive read--a real page-turner.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2005

    J. Kellerman is back in fine form

    It was a pleasure to read this book after several of the author's later Dr. Delaware mysteries. Dr. D.'s endless moaning over the loss of his love was beginning to make the novels lose focus. But Jonathan Kellerman is back in great form here with a new protagonist, police detective Petra Connor. Assisting her are the ever strong-but-silent Eric Stahl and grad-student genius Isaac Gomez. My only quibble with this book is the two crime story lines; somehow this works on CSI, but not in a long book in which a confusing number of names is involved in each case. Otherwise, this is a good read, and I look forward to more in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2005

    Good until the end

    The book seemed to run real smooth. The characters seemed so real and believable. The ending though seemed weak. Kept flipping looking for more, but not in a good way.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2005

    I love this kind of book

    Definately kept my attention. Highly recommend this one to anyone who wants to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2004

    Terrible Reader

    I could not seem to ever get into the storyline because the reader on this book was terrible. She was very monotone and did not differentiate her voice between characters. Therefore, every line of dialog seemed to run together and it was very hard to follow. There were no dramatic pauses or breaks. I have enjoyed Jonathan Kellerman books in the past but will refrain from purchasing any other books that use Lindsey Crouse as the reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2004

    Bravo, this was a great one!

    I enjoy Jonathan Kellerman, and I gravitate towards the Alex Delaware books, so I wasn't sure I would enjoy this one as much. I was wrong, this book was wonderful, couldn't put it down. It's great to see an author who has been around a while still producing fresh, intriguing work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2004

    Best Kellerman work yet!

    This book was impossible to put down. Kellerman who always writes at a high level really brought his A game to this novel. As always he uses terrific description to not only make you feel you are right in the story but brings the characters to life. Best of all the dialogue is vivid, funny, heartbreaking, and pulse pounding whenever Kellerman wants it to be. This is definetly a book to read sooner rather than later!

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    Posted July 31, 2010

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    Posted September 13, 2010

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    Posted December 28, 2012

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    Posted August 15, 2010

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews

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