by Jonathan Kellerman – This is book 1 in the Alex Delaware series.
There are some elements to the plot (including the felonious, overly macho, and improbable actions of the protagonist, Alex Delaware) that are difficult to swallow in 2013, but they make more sense given the 1985 publication date of the book. There’s more than a touch of “Starsky and Hutch” and “Baretta” to the logic and action sequences in this novel, which probably played well a generation ago, but not so now. Instead, I was left with a grateful recognition of how much the world – or my expectations and experience of it – has changed since then.
In fact, it occurs to me that young adults (those born in the late 80s and early 90s) might not have any context at all for the world as described in this novel, which could lead them to reject it outright. It’s rather unbelievable that a psychologist would use blatantly illegal and violent means to get answers from a man he suspects is part of a criminal conspiracy… a man who has not been arrested or charged with any crimes. It’s perhaps believable that he would leave another man dead after a car/motorcycle chase, but less so that he would tamper with the body and steal evidence, all the while unconcerned that these actions could result in charges being brought against him. The sense of cowboy justice (albeit not in the classic sense) is hard for people to swallow today, as our current experience tells us that CSI techs (at least the TV versions of them) would have solved the initial crimes correctly and this whole plot premise would never have existed.
Still, it is what it is. I found the characters a tad shallow and prone to stereotype, but that won’t stop me from reading the next book in the series. I expect that the series (still being written now) will evolve as its setting moves out of the 80s and I look forward to seeing what develops. (finished 1/2/13)