One of the most intriguing and attractive elements of Jonathan Kellerman's novels concerning psychologist Alex Delaware is Kellerman's willingness to change --- dramatically --- the elements of his characters' lives. While Kellerman's latest novel, A COLD HEART, begins somewhat violently, the mystery behind a series of murders occurring apparently at random is balanced nicely by the interplay between Delaware, his gradually burgeoning relationship with Allison Gwynn and his resolution of his feelings toward Robin Castagna, his ex-lover. It's hard to overemphasize how important this is, or how masterfully Kellerman accomplishes it. Leave out the potentially explosive chemistry of the relationships and what would be left is an unrelentingly grim novel about a mysterious serial killer; focus too much on the relationships and one risks wandering involuntarily into ripped bodice territory. Kellerman makes the story of one as interesting as the other and very neatly brings them together at the denouement.
A COLD HEART begins with the murder of Baby Boy Lee, a legendary blues guitarist with a cult following who is attempting to make a final grab at larger fame and fortune, when he is mysteriously murdered during a cigarette break while playing a gig. When an up-and-coming painter and a promising concert pianist are also murdered shortly thereafter, it appears as if someone is marking performance artists for death. The victims however appear to otherwise be unrelated and, when the unsolved prior murders of a punk rock singer and a ballet dancer also seem to be related, the motive and the individual behind the murders become even more mysterious. Delaware, along with police detective Milo Sturgis and Sturgis's colleague Petra Connor, approach the investigation from different angles, all working gradually toward the same goal, with Delaware and Connor working through their own personal problems as well. No one is more surprised than Delaware, however, when he di