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‘Bones’ by Jonathan Kellerman

  There’s one thing you can always count on with Jonathan Kellerman: He always produces an entertaining, suspenseful mystery.
  His lengthy series of whodunit novels featuring psychologist-sleuth Alex Delaware has become a hit around the world because of its consistency. Sometimes the novels are too consistent and seem rushed and predictable. To be fair, after 23 novels featuring the same main character, it can be a challenge to come up with something fresh and exciting every year. Even though Kellerman is a veteran clinical psychologist, the genre of psychological drama can’t be the easiest one to tackle.
  Fortunately, “Bones” is one of Kellerman’s better efforts in recent years. It’s definitely not one of his best (check out “The Butcher’s
Theater” and “The Conspiracy Club”), but it’s an improvement over “Compulsion” and “Obsession.”
  In “Bones,” Delaware is wittier and more energetic and seems to have a renewed passion to solve the case at hand, which has a lot of tentacles.
  A young woman’s body is discovered at the Bird Marsh nature conservancy near Marina Del Rey in California. Los Angeles homicide detective Milo Sturgis, a mainstay in the Delaware stories, investigates, and he soon uncovers a horrible scene. More female bodies are found — they’re all prostitutes. A serial killer is apparently on the loose. Sturgis calls in Delaware for assistance.
  At this point, it looks like a paint-by-numbers mystery. But the most recent victim is a talented young musician from the East Coast. Her name is Selena Bass, and she had been employed by a wealthy family, the Vanders, to tutor a musical prodigy.
  This strange twist puzzles Delaware and Sturgis, and the two launch a wide-ranging, bumpy investigation that leads them to all corners of L.A. They first discover that the Vanders are nowhere to be found, and the Vanders’ estate manager, Travis Huck, seems to be a little suspicious.
  “His sad, crooked mouth straightened into a position of neutrality, at odds with the tension around his eyes,” writes Kellerman, describing Huck during the duo’s questioning. They soon realize he has a criminal background.
  Sturgis, playing the starring role for once in a Kellerman novel, and Delaware don’t settle for the obvious, however, and unearth more startling details about the marsh deaths.
  Not surprisingly, there are some surprises in the investigation, which leads them down a path with some combative characters and a brooding sense of violence.
  FAN NOTE: Kellerman is not done releasing books this year. His eagerly anticipated memoir about his famed guitar collection comes out next month. “With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars” (Ballantine, 368 pages, $75) takes readers on a guided tour through Kellerman’s historic collection of stringed instruments, which numbers at least 120. Kellerman also talks about his long love affair with music.

 

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