Monster – Jonathan Kellerman – monstrosity, is more like it

Monster by Jonathan Kellerman

pic1

 

See it at Amazon 

(1/5)

Pros: Decent premise

Cons: But dull, dull, dull.

The description on the back cover grabbed my attention.  But the book failed to keep it.  I’m talking about Monster, part of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series.  For those unfamiliar, Alex is a forensic psychologist who is often called to consult with the police, when they’re chasing a bad guy.  Alex’s knowledge of psychology is frequently useful, both when attempting to create a profile to help identify the perpetrator, as well to help in the capture.

In this case, two grisly murders have been discovered.  The victims seem to have nothing in common – the first is a wannabe actor.  The second is a psychologist working with criminally insane patients.  But their murders are similar enough to indicate the same killer.

So Alex and his partner, Milo, head to the asylum to get a better understanding of the second victim.  And there they meet one of the patients – a man who appears to be completely out of it.  But, later, they find out that the man mumbled something that indicates knowledge of the murder.  Even more bizarre, later he mumbles something else – something that accurately describes another set of murders that occurs the next day.  Did this otherwise non-communicative man actually predict the murders?  Or is something far more sinister going on?

That’s the basic premise and I admit I found it intriguing.  The thought that a man locked in a secure facility, under heavy medication, barely communicative, could somehow “know” about murders going on outside the facility absolute hooked me.

But, wow, did this book drag!  First of all, absolutely nothing exciting happens for the first 80 or so pages.  That’s how long it takes before any of the events described above happen.  Prior to that, it’s a pretty long, drawn out set up of the circumstances.  We get to learn a lot about the facility, and the staff who work there, but nothing that kept me awake late at night.

Then, finally, the story gets underway.  And it’s fairly interesting, for a while.  But then the book starts dragging, again.  It was one of those books that I had to force myself to continue, even though it simply didn’t hold my interest.  I just kept hoping it would pick up.

Worst, most of the middle of the book was devoted to Alex and Milo theorizing about what was going on.  There was a whole lot of guesswork.  Some of it turned out to be valid, some didn’t.  But it seems like lazy writing to me – filler, really.  Like the author had nothing interesting to add for several pages, so he just added a conversation where the two leads discuss “possibilities”.

It does get somewhat exciting, towards the end, when the real story finally unfolds. But by then, it was really a case of “too little, too late”.  I had completely detached from the book, and was reading it purely out of a sense of obligation to complete that which I start.  I just didn’t care about any of the characters.  Sure, I want murderers to be caught, and justice dealt for the victims.  But beyond that – the characters meant nothing to me.

There weren’t even any subplots or details about Alex’s personal life in this book.  His wife, Robin, is mentioned, but is never heard from.  Basically, the entire book revolves around this one case, with absolutely nothing else to help provide some interest.  And while the ultimate story was somewhat intriguing, it is not worth the time and effort it took to wade through this very dull book to get there.

Jonathan Kellerman books are always hit-or-miss with me.  And Monster is definitely a miss.

Also by Jonathan Kellerman:
Blood Test
Guilt
Obsession

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane – A mother’s worst nightmare

The Girl Who Disappeared Twice by Andrea Kane

pic1

 

See it at Amazon 

(3/5)

Pros: Fairly interesting story.

Cons: But lackluster characters and an unrealistic ending.

Andrea Kane’s The Girl Who Disappeared Twice is a mystery/thriller revolving around every mother’s worst nightmare. 

Judge Hope Willis has already lived through one terrible ordeal.  Three decades ago, her twin sister Felicity was kidnapped, and never heard from again.  Now her world is about to collapse again – when Hope’s 5-year-old daughter Krissy is taken from her school.  

With few leads, and knowing how critical the first few hours are, Hope brings in a “controversial” team called Forensic Instincts.  With absolutely no legal authority whatsoever, this team of specialists has a phenomenal success rate.  The team is headed by Casey, a woman who can read the smallest nuance of a person’s gestures and expressions.  She is aided by an ex-Navy Seal and a techno wizard.  Rounding out the team are the newest members – an “intuitive” named Claire and a trained scent hound named Hero.  In other words, Forensic Instincts has all of the skills necessary to solve cases, without getting bogged down in red tape that hinders all of the legal authorities.  Sure, they get results, but their means aren’t always strictly by the book. 

Of course, Hope doesn’t care about any of that – she just wants her daughter found.  

All of the people working this case have their hands full.  With lots of suspects, secrets, and clandestine behaviors, the story twists around quite a bit before finally coming together.  Along the way, I was interested enough to keep reading, although I never felt fully engaged in the book. 

First of all, Casey is not a very likable person, nor is she easy to get to know.  Without a lot of background we are simply given a woman who doesn’t take no for an answer, and who only follows rules if they are convenient for her.  We’re supposed to assume that her ends justify her means, but I don’t believe this is always the case. 

Secondly, I got tired of all the back and forth between Casey’s team members and the FBI.  Sure, they’re both working the same case, and they have very different means and resources available to them.  But does this mean that I have to read – time and time again – about their differences and how each believes their way is the only right way?  I understand the situation. I understand the different teams.  I don’t need to have the relationship explained to me over and over again.  It would have been very nice if they could have pooled their various resources and worked together instead of fighting each other the whole way. 

Finally, when all is revealed, I just didn’t “buy it”.  The whole story makes little sense and I found myself questioning it.  I simply don’t believe that events would ever work out the way Ms. Kane described.  Not that a mystery/thriller has to be based on true events – but they should at least come off as plausible – something that could happen.  In this case, I am just not a believer. 

Still, I read this book with interest, and definitely wanted to know what happened to Krissy, and to Felicity all those years ago.  So, while I questioned a lot about this book, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice is readable.  Give it a try if you come across it in the library, but don’t rush out to buy it.

 

No Way Out
Run For Your Life
The Line Between Here and Gone