It’s been a couple of years since I read a Jonathan Kellerman novel, featuring his first-person protagonist Dr. Alex Delaware. I’ve always enjoyed these books: the mysteries are interesting and not overly involved, and the characters are realistic and consistent.
In Deception, the MOW (mystery of the week) is the murder of a substitute teacher and tutor at an exclusive L.A. prep school. Police detective, Milo Sturgis is charged with solving the mystery, and he (as usual) recruits his BFF, Dr. Alex Delaware to help out. Milo is also faced with a lot of political pressure on this case, as the son of the Chief of the Police attends the prep school. The Chief is concerned about the consequences of a big scandal on his son’s recommendation letters from the school, despite the fact that all the evidence points to something hokey going on at the school. The mystery is streamlined, yet unravels at a wonderful pace. New characters are introduced every few chapters, and there are a few red herrings, but the end is wrapped up quite tightly.
I think this book, more that I remember with the others, shows who the REAL star of the show is. Let’s face it… Alex Delaware is just a proxy-protagonist. It’s through his voice that we get to enjoy the true protagonist of these books: Milo Sturgis. Milo is one of the first openly gay police officers in the L.A. police department, and he is certainly no gay stereotype. He is crass, eats everything in sight, doesn’t take shit from anyone, cynical, a terrible dresser, large, and gravelly. He is also an amazing detective, who solves crimes with the help of his best friend, Alex.
I also enjoyed, and appreciated more in this novel, the humor that Kellerman brings to his writing. Alex and Milo constantly engage in banter that seems very real to me. I found myself laughing several times during this book, despite the grim mystery. I appreciated the short chapters as well. Somehow, the end of a chapter always coincided with when I needed to get off the subway. I enjoyed this book, and will continue to read Jonathan Kellerman’s Delaware series. Fans of Harlen Coben and John Sandford would enjoy these books.