Title – Motive
Author – Jonathan Kellerman
Published – September 2015 (paperback)
Genre – Crime fiction
So this is number 30 in the Alex Delaware series – where did the time go?
It can’t be easy to maintain a series over such a long period (the first ‘Delaware’ title was published in 1985) and having read all the titles in the series I can say that there have been many peaks accompanied by a few ‘troughs’ along the way. But Motive seems like part of his return to form.
The story opens with Milo (LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis) consulting psychologist Alex Delaware when he is frustrated by a seemingly simple murder that he has been unable to solve. Delaware can add nothing and the case remains stalled. Move forward a few weeks and Milo is back in touch – this time he’s looking for Delaware’s psych skills in the murder of a wealthy divorcee who has been shot in the car park of a law firm.
The pairing of Delaware and Sturgis works well, but then Kellerman has had a lot of time to develop the partnership. In fact thinking back to when the series was first published having a gay cop in Sturgis could well have been cutting edge. The pair bounce ideas off each other and discuss their theories, which helps to take the reader along with their train of thought.
There’s not a great deal of the psychological component to the story, especially compared to earlier books in the series, more it’s diligent police work and of course Delaware can’t resist undertaking some of the investigative work himself. These stories don’t rely on large amounts of detailed forensic work but are more about talking to the people involved (witnesses, suspects) and getting others to come back with the results of the more detailed investigative work. There are plenty of red herrings to keep the reader guessing but (fortunately) the plot isn’t as convoluted as some have of the book’s predecessors. I was also pleased that there was less of Delaware’s personal life than there has been in some of the later novels.
Kellerman’s writing has a very specific feel when it comes to descriptions and although I know it’s not a style that appeals to everyone it’s an aspect that I really like, and for me it helps to bring the characters and situations to life.
So there’s a twisty plot, some red herrings, and a spot of sleuthing – both amateur and professional. All in all an enjoyable read. Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.