October 11, 2007

Review of Double Homicide

Double Homicide: Boston / Sante Fe (2 in 1)Amazon.com

Two short novels by a couple who've each gone it alone very successfully in their previous literary efforts make for a double treat for fans of both authors--Faye, whose mysteries feature a similarly uxorious couple in Rina and Peter Decker, and Jonathan, whose Alex Delaware novels starring a thoughtful child psychologist who's luckier in crime-busting than in love are even more popular. Not as satisfying as each author's full-length efforts, Double Homicide nonetheless offers a tasty side dish for their fans, and their protagonists venture beyond Los Angeles to tread new geographical territory, too. In Boston, a popular college athlete is slain in a busy nightclub, but what seems like an open-and-shut case turns out to hinge on forensic evidence that points to a very different conclusion. Detectives Michael McCain and Doris Breton unravel the mystery in Beantown, while two other new characters, Darryl Two Moons and his partner Steve Katz, discover that gallery owner Larry Olafson's brutal slaying has repercussions that resonate far beyond Santa Fe's trendy Canyon Road. Neither of these novellas makes the most of either author's gifts at character development, which lend themselves to a longer format, but that won't stop their dedicated readers from snapping them up and savoring them until the Deckers or Dr. Delaware turn up in their next adventures. --Jane Adams

From AudioFile

Two novellas, two settings, two victims, two pairs of detectives, two writing styles--there's plenty for two readers to work with here. John Rubinstein reads IN THE LAND OF THE GIANTS, in which Boston detectives investigate the death of a college basketball star after an on-court incident. Rubenstein narrates in mostly angry tones that reflect the rough worlds of competitive sports and city police work. Lou Diamond Phillips gives smoother treatment to STILL LIFE, set in the artsy world of Santa Fe, where an unpopular art dealer has been killed. Detectives Two Moons and Katz emerge as distinct personalities as they sort out suspects and clues. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Rob's review:  Darryl Two Moons is from Santa Clara Pueblo. He's an urban Indian who's lost touch with his roots, so the Kellermans don't have to delve into Santa Clara lore. But his father wants to reconnect with his Indian roots, so he gets into all sorts of New-Agey things. Both characters are well delineated in their brief time on stage.

Even better is the Kellermans' description of Santa Fe. You feel the authors are walking through town as they describe it, with just the right amount of detail. They don't overdo it as Jonathan Kellerman sometimes does (for instance, in his recent book Gone).

The stories do end abruptly, but I'm not sure that's a problem of the novella format. Even if stories both were expanded to novels, their premises would be somewhat slight. These novellas would make good episodes of an hourly show such as Law & Order.

I disagree with the critics who said this was one of the Kellermans' lesser efforts. I've read several of Jonathan Kellerman's mysteries and Double Homicide was on a par with the rest. Rob's rating: 8.0 of 10.

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