Jonathan Kellerman has been gathering accolades for quite some
time, even as he is well into his third decade of writing
intelligent, suspenseful works and shows no signs of slowing down.
With each new book, he continues to exceed the standards he sets
for himself since his last. OBSESSION, his latest Alex Delaware
novel, continues this pattern.
Initially, OBSESSION involves Delaware's treatment of Tanya
Bigelow, a 19-year-old who had been seeing the good doctor for over
a decade for her obsessive-compulsive disorder. The reason for
Tanya's return is a deathbed confession made by her aunt and
adoptive mother, Patty, who apparently committed a murder in the
past and urged Tanya to seek Delaware's help. His recollection of
Patty was of a gentle, dedicated woman incapable of such an act.
Nonetheless, he agrees to help Tanya, enlisting the assistance of
the taciturn Milo Sturgis to trace what may be the nonexistent
victim of a crime that never happened.
Kellerman creates a fascinating description of police procedure
while, at the same time, giving readers a new glimpse of the
somewhat rumpled, grumpy but always loyal Sturgis, an L.A. police
detective who happens to be gay. Kellerman chooses to develop and
reveal Sturgis's personality by degrees, making his friendship with
Delaware unlikely for a number of reasons --- haberdashery,
philosophy, worldview --- as opposed to an odd couple scenario
based entirely on gender preference.
It is Sturgis's personality that ultimately carries the reader
through OBSESSION, even as Kellerman tells a fascinating tale of a
deed committed with the best of intentions but that many years
later places an innocent in terrible danger. That same deed,
however, also provides a means by which happiness is achieved, and
Kellerman pulls this together so neatly that one can only marvel at
how it is done.
OBSESSION is good, solid police work --- performed in large part by
a new and interesting character in the Delaware mythos --- that
leads to the book's conclusion and to the ultimate answer as to how
the acts of the past can affect the affairs of the present in ways
that can never be predicted or planned ahead.
Reportedly, Kellerman has plotted enough Delaware novels to keep
him writing for a very long time. Based on the strength of
OBSESSION and what has gone before, I hope I'm still around to read
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 13, 2011