“With his latest, [Jonathan Kellerman] not only brings his ‘A’ game but also ratchets it up a notch or three. . . . Victims will keep you up at night.”—Bookreporter
Acid-tongued Vita Berlin hadn’t a friend in the world, but whom did she cross so badly as to end up meticulously arranged in such a gruesome murder scene? One look prompts LAPD detective Milo Sturgis to summon his expert in homicidal maniacs, Alex Delaware. But even Alex is stymied when more slayings occur in the same ghastly fashion—with no apparent connection among the victims. And the only clue left behind—a blank page bearing a question mark—seems to be both a menacing taunt and a chilling cry for help from a tortured, savage soul. To end the bloody spree and prevent citywide panic, Alex navigates the secretive world of mental health treatment, from the sleek office of a Beverly Hills therapist to a shuttered mental institution where he once learned his craft. As each jagged piece of the puzzle fits into place, a portrait emerges of a sinister mind at its most unimaginable—and an evil soul at its most unspeakable.
“Expertly crafted, judiciously paced and echoing with larger social concerns.”—The Star-Ledger
“The combination of Alex Delaware [and] Detective Milo Sturgis . . . makes for the most original whodunit duo since Watson and Holmes.”—Forbes
Don’t miss the excerpt of Jonathan Kellerman’s Guilt in the back of the book.
About the Author
Jonathan Kellerman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher’s Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted, and True Detectives. With his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. He is also the author of two children’s books and numerous nonfiction works, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children and With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony awards and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California, New Mexico, and New York.
Hometown:Beverly Hills, California
Date of Birth:August 9, 1949
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Education:B.A. in psychology, University of California-Los Angeles; Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1974
Read an Excerpt
This one was different.
The first hint was Milo's tight-voiced eight a.m. message, stripped of details.
Something I need you to see, Alex. Here's the address.
An hour later, I was showing I.D. to the uniform guarding the tape. He winced. "Up there, Doctor." Pointing to the second story of a sky-blue duplex trimmed in chocolate-brown, he dropped a hand to his Sam Browne belt, as if ready for self-defense.
Nice older building, the classic Cal-Spanish architecture, but the color was wrong. So was the silence of the street, sawhorsed at both ends. Three squad cars and a liver-colored LTD were parked haphazardly across the asphalt. No crime lab vans or coroner's vehicles had arrived, yet.
I said, "Bad?"
The uniform said, "There's probably a better word for it but that works."
Milo stood on the landing outside the door doing nothing.
No cigar-smoking or jotting in his pad or grumbling orders. Feet planted, arms at his sides, he stared at some faraway galaxy.
His blue nylon windbreaker bounced sunlight at strange angles. His black hair was limp, his pitted face the color and texture of cottage cheese past its prime. A white shirt had wrinkled to crepe. Wheat- colored cords had slipped beneath his paunch. His tie was a sad shred of poly.
He looked as if he'd dressed wearing a blindfold.
As I climbed the stairs, he didn't acknowledge me.
When I was six steps away, he said, "You made good time."
"Sorry," he said.
"Including you." He handed me gloves and paper booties.
I held the door for him. He stayed outside.
The woman was at the rear of the apartment's front room, flat on her back. The kitchen behind her was empty, counters bare, an old avocado- colored fridge free of photos or magnets or mementos.
Two doors to the left were shut and yellow-taped. I took that as a Keep Out. Drapes were drawn over every window. Fluorescent lighting in the kitchen supplied a nasty pseudo-dawn.
The woman's head was twisted sharply to the right. A swollen tongue hung between slack, bloated lips.
Limp neck. A grotesque position some coroner might label "incompatible with life."
Big woman, broad at the shoulders and the hips. Late fifties to early sixties, with an aggressive chin and short, coarse gray hair. Brown sweatpants covered her below the waist. Her feet were bare. Unpolished toenails were clipped short. Grubby soles said bare feet at home was the default.
Above the waistband of the sweats was what remained of a bare torso. Her abdomen had been sliced horizontally below the navel in a crude approximation of a C-section. A vertical slit crossed the lateral incision at the center, creating a star-shaped wound.
The damage brought to mind one of those hard-rubber change purses that relies on surface tension to protect the goodies. Squeeze to create a stellate opening, then reach in and scoop.
The yield from this receptacle was a necklace of intestines placed below the woman's neckline and arranged like a fashionista's puffy scarf. One end terminated at her right clavicle. Bilious streaks ran down her right breast and onto her rib cage. The rest of her viscera had been pulled down into a heap and left near her left hip.
The pile rested atop a once-white towel folded double. Below that was a larger maroon towel spread neatly. Four other expanses of terry cloth formed a makeshift tarp that shielded beige wall-to-wall carpeting from biochemical insult. The towels had been arranged precisely, edges overlapping evenly for about an inch. Near the woman's right hip was a pale blue T shirt, also folded. Spotless.
Doubling the white towel had succeeded in soaking up a good deal of body fluid, but some had leaked into the maroon under-layer. The smell would've been bad enough without the initial stages of decomp.
One of the towels beneath the body bore lettering. Silver bath sheet embroidered Vita in white.
Latin or Italian for "life." Some monster's notion of irony?
The intestines were green-brown splotched pink in spots, black in others. Matte finish to the casing, some puckering that said they'd been drying for a while. The apartment was cool, a good ten degrees below the pleasant spring weather outside. The rattle of a wheezy A.C. unit in one of the living room windows was inescapable once I noticed it. Noisy apparatus, rusty at the bolts, but efficient enough to leach moisture from the air and slow down the rot.
But rot is inevitable and the woman's color wasn't anything you'd see outside a morgue.
Incompatible with life.
I bent to inspect the wounds. Both slashes were confident swoops unmarred by obvious hesitation marks, shearing smoothly through layers of skin, subcutaneous fat, diaphragmatic muscle.
No abrasions around the genital area and surprisingly little blood for so much brutality. No spatter or spurt or castoff or evidence of a struggle. All those towels; horribly compulsive.
Guesses filled my head with bad pictures.
Extremely sharp blade, probably not serrated. The neck-twist had killed her quickly and she'd been dead during the surgery, the ultimate anesthesia. The killer had stalked her with enough thoroughness to know he'd have her to himself for a while. Once attaining total control, he'd gone about choreographing: laying out the towels, tucking and aligning, achieving a pleasing symmetry. Then he'd laid her down, removed her T shirt, careful to keep it clean.
Standing back, he'd inspected his prep work. Time for the blade.
Then the real fun: anatomical exploration.
Despite the butchery and the hideous set of her neck, she looked peaceful. For some reason, that made what had been done to her worse.
I scanned the rest of the room. No damage to the front door or any other sign of forced entry. Bare beige walls backed cheap upholstered furniture covered in a puckered ocher fabric that aped brocade but fell short. White ceramic beehive lamps looked as if they'd shatter under a finger-snap.
The dining area was set up with a card table and two folding chairs. A brown cardboard take-out pizza box sat on the table. Someone-probably Milo-had placed a yellow plastic evidence marker nearby. That made me take a closer look.
No brand name on the box, just PIZZA! in exuberant red cursive above the caricature of a portly mustachioed chef. Curls of smaller lettering swarmed around the chef's fleshy grin.
Ooh la la!
The box was pristine, not a speck of grease or finger-smudge. I bent down to sniff, picked up no pizza aroma. But the decomp had filled my nose; it would be a while before I'd be smelling anything but death.
If this was another type of crime scene, some detective might be making ghoulish jokes about free lunch.
The detective in charge of this scene was a lieutenant who'd seen hundreds of murders, maybe thousands, yet chose to stay outside for a while.
I let loose more mental pictures. Some fiend in a geeky delivery hat ringing the doorbell then managing to talk himself inside.
Watching as the prey went for her purse? Waiting for precisely the right moment before coming up behind her and clamping both his hands on the sides of her head.
Quick blitz of rotation. The spinal cord would separate and that would be it.
Doing it correctly required strength and confidence.
That and the lack of obvious transfer evidence-not even a shoe impression-screamed experience. If there'd been a similar murder in L.A., I hadn't heard about it.
Despite all that meticulousness, the hair around the woman's temples might be a good place to look for transfer DNA. Psychopaths don't sweat much, but you never know.
I examined the room again.
Speaking of purses, hers was nowhere in sight.
Robbery as an afterthought? More likely souvenir-taking was part of the plan.
Edging away from the body, I wondered if the woman's last thoughts had been of crusty dough, mozzarella, a comfy barefoot dinner.
The doorbell ring the last music she'd ever hear.
I stayed in the apartment awhile longer, straining for insight.
The terrible competence of the neck-twist made me wonder about someone with martial arts training.
The embroidered towel bothered me.
Had he brought that one but taken the rest from her linen closet?
Yum. Bon appétit. To life.
The decomp reek intensified and my eyes watered and blurred and the necklace of guts morphed into a snake.
Drab constrictor, fat and languid after a big meal.
I could stand around and pretend that this was anything comprehensible, or hurry outside and try to suppress the tide of nausea rising in my own guts.
Not a tough choice.
ilo hadn't moved from his position on the landing. His eyes were back on Planet Earth, watching the street below. Five uniforms were moving from door to door. From the quick pace of the canvass, plenty of no- one-home.
The street was in a working-class neighborhood in the southeastern corner of West L.A. Division. Three blocks east would've made it someone else's problem. Mixed zoning allowed single-family dwellings and duplexes like the one where the woman had been degraded.
Psychopaths are stodgy creatures of routine and I wondered if the killer's comfort zone was so narrow that he lived within the sawhorses.
I caught my breath and worked at settling my stomach while Milo pretended not to notice.
"Yeah, I know," he finally said. He was apologizing for the second time when a coroner's van drove up and a dark-haired woman in comfortable clothes got out and hurried up the stairs. "Morning, Milo."
"Morning, Gloria. All yours."
"Oh, boy," she said. "We talking freaky-bad?"
"I could say I've seen worse, kid, but I'd be lying."
"Coming from you that gives me the creeps, Milo."
"Because I'm old?"
"Tsk." She patted his shoulder. "Because you're the voice of experience."
"Some experiences I can do without."
People can get used to just about anything. But if your psyche's in good repair, the fix is often temporary.
Soon after receiving my doctorate, I worked as a psychologist on a pediatric cancer ward. It took a month to stop dreaming about sick kids but I was eventually able to do my job with apparent professionalism. Then I left to go into private practice and found myself, years later, on that same ward. Seeing the children with new eyes mocked all the adaptation I thought I'd accomplished and made me want to cry. I went home and dreamed for a long time.
Homicide detectives get "used" to a regular diet of soul-obliteration. Typically bright and sensitive, they soldier on, but the essence of the job lurks beneath the surface like a land mine. Some D's transfer out. Others stay and find hobbies. Religion works for some, sin for others. Some, like Milo, turn griping into an art form and never pretend it's just another job.
The woman on the towels was different for him and for me. A permanent image bank had lodged in my brain and I knew the same went for him.
Neither of us talked as Gloria worked inside.
Finally, I said, "You marked the pizza box. It bothers you."
"Everything about this bothers me."
"No brand name on the box. Any indies around here deliver?"
He drew out his cell phone, clicked, and produced a page. Phone numbers he'd already downloaded filled the screen and when he scrolled, the listings kept coming.
"Twenty-eight indies in a ten-mile radius and I also checked Domino's and Papa John's and Two Guys. No one dispatched anyone to this address last night and nobody uses that particular box."
"If she didn't actually call out, why would she let him in?"
"Who discovered her?"
"Landlord, responding to a complaint she made a few days ago. Hissing toilet, they had an appointment. When she didn't answer, he got annoyed, started to leave. Then he thought better of it because she liked things fixed, used his key."
"Where is he now?"
He pointed across the street. "Recuperating with some firewater down in that little Tudor-ish place."
I found the house. Greenest lawn on the block, beds of flowers. Topiary bushes.
"Anything about him bother you?"
"Not so far. Why?"
"His landscaping says he's a perfectionist."
"That's a negative?"
"This case, maybe."
"Well," he said, "so far he's just the landlord. Want to know about her?"
"Her name's Vita Berlin, she's fifty-six, single, lives on some kind of disability."
"Vita," I said. "The towel was hers."
"The towel? This bastard used every damn towel she had in her linen closet."
"Vita means 'life' in Latin and Italian. I thought it might be a sick joke."
"Cute. Anyway, I'm waiting for Mr. Belleveaux-the landlord-to calm down so I can question him and find out more about her. What I've learned from prelim snooping in her bedroom and bathroom is if she's got kids she doesn't keep their pictures around and if she had a computer, it was ripped off. Same for a cell phone. My guess is she had neither, the place has a static feel to it. Like she moved in years ago, didn't add any newfangled stuff."
"I didn't see her purse."
"On her nightstand."
"You taped off the bedroom, didn't want me in there?"
"I sure do, but that'll wait until the techies are through. Can't afford to jeopardize any aspect of this."
"The front room was okay?"
"I knew you'd be careful."
His logic seemed strained. Insufficient sleep and a bad surprise can do that.
I said, "Any indication she was heading to the bedroom before he jumped her?"
"No, it's pristine. Why?"
I gave him the delivery tip scenario.
"Going for her purse," he said. "Well, I don't know how you'd prove that, Alex. Main thing is he confined himself to the front, didn't move her into the bedroom for anything sexual."
I said, "Those towels make me think of a stage. Or a picture frame."
"Showing off his work."
"Okay . . . what else to tell you . . . her wardrobe's mostly sweats and sneakers, lots of books in her bedroom. Romances and the kinds of mysteries where people talk like Noël Coward twits and the cops are bumbling cretins."
I wondered out loud about a killer with martial arts skills and when he didn't respond, went on to describe the kill-scene still bouncing around my brain.
He said, "Sure, why not."
Agreeable but distracted. Neither of us focusing on the big question.
Why would anyone do something like this to another human being?
Gloria exited the apartment, looking older and paler.
Milo said, "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she said. "No, I'm lying, that was horrible." Her forehead was moist. She dabbed it with a tissue. "My God, it's grotesque."
"Any off-the-cuff impressions?"
"Nothing you probably haven't figured out yourself. Broken neck's my bet for COD, the cutting looks postmortem. The incisions look clean so maybe some training in meat-cutting or a paramedical field but I wouldn't put much stock in that, all kinds of folk can learn to slice. That pizza box mean something to you?"
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Wonderful Book I enjoyed reading. kept me entertained all the way through.
Loved this book. Now I'm sad it's over, it feels like good friends are going away & I won't see them for awhile. I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. Excellent story, excellent characters. Can't wait for his next book.
Excellent read. Couldn't put it down. It was a long time coming and worth the wait.
This book was very disappointing and BORING! Read the whole thing for a book club but had to force myself. Cannot think of ONE redeeming part................sad that Mr. Kellerman couldn't have put more effort into writing it.
I loved this as I do all Alex Delaware books. I would have preferred, however, more antics by Milo.
Homicide detective Lt. Milo Sturgis, along with the LAPD consulting psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware, have been called to a murder scene, where the female victim has been disemboweled in a particularly grotesque manner. Although it first blush it would seem to be a revenge killing, as they gather information about the woman, Delaware is skeptical that this is the case. When, as the title implies, another victim is found, killed in precisely the same horrific manner, and the police are unable to find a single thing in common between the two victims, they must look elsewhere for leads to follow. This is the 27th in this series, and as with the previous entries, it is a police procedural of the highest order – the police doing their thing and Alex Delaware providing insights into the victims and the kind of twisted mind that might be responsible for these murders. The plot and characters are well-developed, and the writing as good as ever. On arriving home one evening, e.g., he speaks of their home in Beverly Glen: “the sinuous silence of the old bridal path leading up to my pretty white house, the prospect of kissing my beautiful girlfriend, patting my adorable dog.” [That would be, respectively, Robin, and Blanche, their little French bulldog.] He describes another character as having “the anxious nobility of a Velasquez prince,” and one particular scene where “the sky was charcoal felt stretched tight. A few stars peeked through like ice-pick wounds.” This was a fast, thoroughly enjoyable read, and it is recommended.
The last few books in this series was a struggle to finish. This book was awesome. I couldn't put it down.
This is my first Jonathan Kellerman but it will not be my last.This was a fast paced,gory novel about a serial killer that kept my interest to the end.
I won this book from Goodreads first readers giveaways in exchange for an honest review.This book has strengths- the mystery is interesting (once you get past the first victim who seems like such an awful person that no one really cares she's dead) and the final result was unexpected. Both of these are necessary for a good book.However, my biggest beef with this novel is the fact that while it's an Alex Delaware novel, I don't find myself knowing him any better than I did going in. While it is written in first person, we get three pages of his personal life (and are briefly introduced to Robin, his girlfriend, who seems smarter than he is), and almost no introspection. We view the world out of his eyes, but don't get to know him at all. He barely speaks throughout the novel, and we learn more about Milo, the guy he works with than him. I realize that there are at least 10 other novels starring Alex out there that may not have this problem (which I have not read) and by now, the author may just assume everyone knows about him. I also want to make note that I read this book right after Bleed for Me by Michael Robotham, which also stars an investigative psychologist, but makes all the right moves and introduces an intriguing first person narrator, deeply flawed and personally invested. That's what I was really missing in this book.
Psychologically disturbing novel. Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis are tracking down a serial killer who meticulously disembowels his victims. The crime scenes are perfectly staged and there IS a reason he chooses who he kills.
I do not know how Jonathan Kellerman continues to write such riveting novels. All the "regular" characters are involved: Alex, Robin, Milo, etc. I couldn't put it down once I started it.
One of the better episodes in the Dr.Alex Delaware series, thought provoking, some twists but mostly police procedural with all the familiar characters in the series involved. Gruesome murders, described in detail are not for the weak stomach reader, but following the bread crumb trail of clues step by step make this a page turner till the end.Fans of this author and series will not be disappointed.
I enjoyed Victims more than I thought I would. The plot and flow of the story was exciting, the pace blazing fast. The wonderful synergy and emotional intelligence of Alex and Milo as they tackle cases together, Robin's loving support and spot-on insights, Petra, and Milo's motivated team, are what compel me to continue reading the series. More character development would be welcome. Good read but beware its super grisly.
This is a review copy. Alex and Milo have a new gruesome case to solve. A series of bodies mutilated are found in various parts of LA. With no apparent connection Milo feels the pressure to find the killer. Alex follows his personal history back to his interning at a Mental Hospital to find clues to solve this most frustrating of cases. More grisly than the rest of the series, the clues hang together well to bring the story to a satisfactory conclusion for the reader if not for Alex. Recomended
Psychologist Alex Delaware is once again asked to help the police. The murder of a woman is made more gruesome by how meticulous she is carved up and arranged after death. The next murder is obviously by the same person but trying to find the connection between the victims is difficult since the victims are complete opposites and don¿t appear to have anything in common. But as more bodies are discovered, Alex, Milo and his police crew are able to put together the rather unique ¿who and what¿ that created this monster. Now they have to find him.I¿ve never read this author¿s books before, but when I had a chance to grab an ARC for such a well known author, I jumped on it. The blurb I read began with ¿Gripping psychological thriller¿¿ I¿ll agree with the psychological aspect. The gripping, thrilling? Not so much. The murders themselves are horrendous enough to give those working the case nightmares. That part is believable. The first victim is such a nasty individual that while horrified by what was done to her it¿s difficult to feel bad that she was a target. The ¿who, what and why¿ aspect is nicely twisted and unique to what I¿ve read in the past. So yes, the psychological slant is well done.But the story moves at a very slow pace for too much of the book, although probably in keeping with real life. Uncovering clues does brighten things up, but then we¿re back to the slow pace which negates the gripping and thriller aspect that I was expecting. I even found the capture to feel anti-climatic, most likely because I just wanted to finish the book that was easily set aside a number of times over a few days.Perhaps I would have felt differently about the story if I¿d read prior books in the series and had a prior history of Alex and Milo to go on. By the end of the book I still don't know much about Alex.Reviewed as an ARC from LibraryThing.
Ask me who my favorite mystery authors are and I'd say Connelly & Coben. But I have every Kellerman title on my shelves (Well, I guess Mystery is not there - I better go get it!). Victims is one of the better recent books - gruesome murders and a tangled string of clues for Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis to follow. I am amazed that Kellerman can tell the same story over and over and make it interesting every time. Alex, the psychologist, follows the psych/medical trail and Milo, the police detective, pursues witnesses, physical evidence, all the traditional police methods. Alex provides some essential insight, and they both zero in on the bad guy. But always a new twist in every book to keep it interesting.This book lacked some of the 'personal life' detail of Alex and Milo and focused primarily on the hunt for the villain. The links between the victims and other characters were essential to the puzzle and were what made this book hard to put down. I consider it the best in the series for some time.
What I enjoy most about reading Jonathan Kellerman's works is his command of dialogue and his ability to tell a story--unveiling characters and information little by little so that we feel that we are there, investigating the murders with him and Milo. In Victims, a series of seemingly unrelated, horrific murders have Milo and Alex Delaware searching for answers. Bodies have been cut open and disemboweled, and when they finally discover the common link, it turns out to be more frightening than they could have ever imagined.Good plot, good flow, good read.I received an advance copy of this book from Early Reviewers.
In Victims, Kellerman treats us to another of his convoluted plots. He and Sturgis are on the hunt for a killer guilty of several grisly murders. While I wouldn't rate this as his best book, it was still a great read, and did not disappoint. It was a fast paced book that I had difficulty putting down. The old hospital added just the right "creep" factor. Kellerman has a gift for description and character development, and his books are always interesting. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes psychological thrillers. If you haven't read Kellerman before, you need to start! You will find yourself looking for his books!
I felt this book was typical Alex Delaware style, but that is not a bad thing. The story was intriguing and well paced. It was also dark and brutal but not gratuitously so. I haven't read anything in this series for a few years and I am thinking of going back to catch up.
Milo Sturgis calls Alex Delaware for help with a gruesome murder and the pair are off again to find the killer. As others victims start turning up murdered in the same way, the mystery deepens. None of the victims seem to be related. Then Alex Delaware discovers links to his past. It just so happens that he was at Ventura State, the largest mental hospital west of the Mississippi, when the perpetrators of the murders meet and the seeds of future destruction are planted. Every time Delaware turns around, he finds another fact or person who give him clues to solving the murders. I have read Jonathan Kellerman for years. I have always liked his books, but I found this one off. Every person who sees the murdered victims seemed to be horribly affected. Over the years Milo and Delaware have dealt with some pretty horrific crimes. It is never explained why this one seems to be so bad. I also am bothered by the lack of development of Milo and Robin. They don¿t really seem to be important in this book. Milo is a wonderful character. Kellerman¿s books used to talk about his life with Rick and his problems with being gay. Now except for his eating everything that comes into view, he does not seem to be there for any other reason except to give Delaware an in on these murders. Robin does not seem to have any function except to give Delaware someone to talk to every once in a while. These are very interesting characters; I would like to see a larger role for them in future books. I want to know more about their lives. This was an enjoyable read, but I found myself disappointed at the end.
Jonathan Kellerman's Victims is the 27th novel in his mystery series featuring clinical psychologist Alex Delaware. The character is a consultant with the Los Angeles police department who gives low key information to Lieutenant Milo Sturgis that helps the detective understand the motivation of murderers. In this case, the suspects are survivors of institutionalism, the warehousing of chronically mentally ill patients in large "institutions" in California. The closing of many of these hospitals on humanitarian grounds returned intractable victims to their communities where supposedly they would get locally funded care. Even though these people had irrational motives sometimes leading to violence, many of them were not intellectually deficient. Intelligent people with bizarre desires and unrestricted freedom lead to deadly consequences in this novel.The pursuit of the murder suspects is no easy task for Alex and Milo.Alex Delaware is not a master of "profiling" and the novel is more of a police procedural than a story of a brilliant psychologist who intuitively solves the case for the police. The interaction of Lt. Sturgis and Dr. Delaware is interesting and believable, each character with his own unique skills that help the team make progress toward solution of the horrific crimes in the story. This reminds me of Robert B. Parker's team of private detective Spenser and tough guy sidekick Hawk in the very popular and multi-novel mystery series. It also is reminiscent of John D. MacDonald's team of "salvage consultant" McGee and Dr. Myer. There is good dialogue, frequent humor, and sporadic violence in the novel that make the reading fast and entertaining.I have read many mystery series writers in the past, enjoying the development of the recurring characters over fictional time: Parker, MacDonald, Christie, Doyle, Stout, and many others. I remember the excitement of finding a new series and learning all I could about the cases and life histories of the main characters. For living writers, I looked forward to new editions in the sagas of their detectives, police officers, government agents, forensic specialists, and free-lance operatives. Although, I moved away from these series and became interested in other novel genres, Dr. Kellerman's novel has interested me in reading the preceding 26 volumes in his Delaware series starting with, When the Bough Breaks (1985). Doing this retro-reading in the past has been rewarding because of the pleasure of reading good stories and seeing the development of writing skills in the authors as they have pursued their careers. I use the term "mystery," but I note that Victims is classified as a "thriller" probably for legitimate reasons of promoting and selling the book.I strongly recommend Victims to readers who would like to look forward to a good story and potentially years of exploring Kellerman's earlier work. He has written other novels outside of the Alex Delaware series.
A series of grusome killings have Milo and Alex working hard to solve the mystery. It begins with the murder and disembowelment of a very unpleasant woman. Several more murders follow all connected by their intestines placed outside their body, the neatness of the crime scene, and a paper left with a question mark on it. Delaware and Sturgis struggle to find the connection between these victims. Alex's girlfriend, Robin, makes a comment that leads them to a mental hospital...one Alex trained at during his internship.I am a huge Jonathan Kellerman fan, love his books! This one, however, was not one of my favorites. I got bogged down in all the guesswork about who could have done what. This just wasn't a page-turner for me and his books usually are...maybe next time!
I've read all the previous Alex Delaware novels by Jonathan Kellerman. Some I've enjoyed more than others -- particularly the ones that focus on the psychology of the criminal mind. This particular story, though interesting, didn't have as much detail about the perpetrator as I would have liked. In fact, there were some unanswered questions that left me wanting more information and background. I would have preferred more discussion of the psychopathology.The murders are grisly - meticulous disembowelment - and Milo and Alex quickly find a link to an old psychiatric institution, Ventura State Hospital, and a child who was kept there in Specialized Care for many years. As they uncover details about the victims, clues lead back to several who worked at V-State or who were connected in some way to the young boy housed there those many years ago. Why are these particular people being selected by their murderer? Milo and Alex look into the backgrounds of the victims to help them find the killer. Although this is #27 in a long-running series, the reader doesn't really need to have read any of the previous novels to get the point of this one. The story is straightforward and doesn't delve too much into anything outside of the main murderer-victim story line. It is a fast read with lots of dialog. Would make a good beach read or grab for your next commute.
This 27th Alex Delaware novel continues an amazing streak of good, consistent without being repetitive, mysteries by Jonathan Kellerman. His novels have developed the Alex Delaware character so well that I feel like I can really get inside his head and follow along with his thought processes. In keeping with the popularity of TV cop shows, he's getting more into the forensics and procedural but I enjoy that.There is a gigantic cast of characters that can challenge you to keep organized in your mind but, then he'll kill off one or two so frequently that a big cast is necessary! Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware, his side kick Homicide Detective Milo, his girlfriend Robin, Coroner Gloria - all great characters. The murders are quite grisly and not for those who have trouble sleeping. An all round good read that keeps those pages turning until late into the night.