Jonathan Kellerman is publishing more books, more frequently. At the same time, the quality of his work is increasing. While Alex Delaware continues to be his best-known character, his other creations, such as Milo Sturgis, Petra Connor, and the very recently introduced team of Darryl Two Moons and Steve Katz, possess their own strengths. They each have separate identities, separate personalities, and separate personal issues, even as they explore the same general territory, which is the aftermath of the passage of the dark side of the human soul.
The initial focus of TWISTED, a Petra Connor novel, is the apparently random and senseless slaying of a young woman who no one seems able to identify. Connor has enough on her professional plate attempting to run down as many dead-end leads on the murder as the reluctant witnesses are willing to give her. So she is not pleased to learn that she is being served more work from a different direction.
Isaac Gomez is a gifted young man from humble circumstances who, at the tender age of twenty-one, has completed his course requirements for his Ph.D. in epidemiology and biostatistics, and is working toward completing his doctoral dissertation. The topic, “Discriminating and Predicting Patterns of Solved and Unsolved Homicides in Los Angeles Between 1991 and 2001,” requires access to LAPD homicide records; Gomez is granted access as an intern and is placed with Connor. Connor is somewhat bemused initially by the combination of Gomez's intelligence and shyness. But she is shocked by what Gomez brings to her one evening.
During the course of his research, he determines that a killer has been operating under the noses of the LAPD for the past six years, committing a murder on June 28 of each year, shortly after midnight. Connor is at first nonplussed --- murders in the middle of summer in Los Angeles are hardly unusual --- but as Connor digs further into the circumstances of each killing, she begins to recognize a chilling pattern indicating that Gomez is right --- and that the killer is on the verge of striking again.
Kellerman does not give short shrift to Connor in TWISTED --- she is by no means guesting in her own novel --- but Gomez is definitely worthy of his own starring role in a future Kellerman thriller. A number of other Kellerman protagonists make cameos in TWISTED, and the enigmatic Eric Stahl is back as well, demonstrating that he is worthy of much more than secondary character status. Given that Kellerman reportedly has literally dozens of future novels substantially outlined, it is not unreasonable to assume that Stahl, Gomez and, of course, Connor, all will have their star turns at some point in the near future. Kellerman's prolific output is a blessing for his readers.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 24, 2011