I’ve been a fan of the mystery/suspense genre for about a quarter of a century now, and have about a dozen authors on my must-read list (which tends to keep my “need to read these” queue full). I’ve been aware of Jonathan Kellerman for a number of years, but never found a compelling reason to add him to my list of authors.This changed recently when I stumbled across an audio version of Gone for a really good price. I decided to give Kellerman a shot.
The story starts out with a naked girl running across the road and flagging down an old-timer in his truck. The startled driver manages to avoid hitting her and then listens to her story. She and her boyfriend were abducted and held against their will – and they have the rope burns to prove it.
Of course, this is L.A., where everyone is an actor. It turns out that Michaela Brand and Dylan Meserve were simply pulling off an elaborate acting exercise – much to the annoyance of the local authorities, who decide to press charges.
At the request of her defense attorney, pyschologist Alex Delaware is pulled in to do an examination of Michaela’s psychological state. Could she really be held responsible for her actions? A plea deal is eventually reached, and life goes on.
Until Michaela is found murdered.
Who could have perpetrated such a crime? Perhaps her partner-in-crime, Dylan Meserve? Coincidentally, Meserve is nowhere to be found.
Lieutenant Milo Sturgis asks Delaware (who does consulting work for the police) to help him with the case. There’s no shortage of suspects – or bodies. It soon becomes apparent that Sturgis and Delaware are dealing with a serial killer who must be brought to justice.
The entirety of the book is set in the Los Angeles area. Although I’ve only been to L.A. once (a brief stopover at LAX during a business trip), I’m a big fan of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels and was happy to discover that they gave me a good background for this book.
In a departure from standard cop stories, we see things from the point of view of Delaware, an outsider. Delaware has been through the trenches and dealt with a multitude of troubled minds in his years as a psychologist. In addition to being mentally and emotionally tough, he manages to defend himself from a violent attack from a rival psychologist. Delaware does have a soft spot for the women in his life, as they try to sort out complicated details.
Sturgis doesn’t have to deal with any of the woman problems Delaware is up against – because he is gay. The character of Sturgis is a complete departure from the typical stereotype of an effeminate gay man. He doesn’t care about fashion, eats like a pig, and is certainly not the sensitive type. By virtue of some dirt he discovered about the old chief, he was promoted to Lieutenant without being saddled with any command responsibilities. He sits in his tiny office, hammering away on his broken down computer doing the one thing he loves – working cases.
This audio book I picked up was the unabridged version on cassette (7 cassettes, 12 hours). I’m a stickler for unabridged editions, as it seems that I rarely agree with the edits that are perform to produced abridged version.
The book was performed by John Rubinstein. A bad reader can absolutely kill a good book … but that’s not the case with Gone. Rubinstein does a good job and provides a number of very distinct voices.
As soon as I finished Gone, I nabbed a copy of the audio version of Rage, also read by Rubinstein – who has done audio versions of a lot of Kellerman books. I thoroughly enjoyed Gone, and suspect that I’ll be reading (or listening to) a lot of Kellerman books in the next few years. He did a nice job of leaving a bread crumb trail of seemingly insignificant details throughout the book while still making it difficult to predict the ending.
About The Author:
Kosmo is an aspiring novelist, vehement opponent of the designated hitter, student of true crime, and plays the keyboard for The Soap Boxers – an eclectic, team-written web magazine. Check out his list of recommended authors.