Devil's Waltz

by Jonathan Kellerman

Reviewed by Coral


Devil's Waltz is the 7th book in Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware series, following child psychologist Alex Delaware as he help's his friend, policeman Milo Sturgis, solve crimes. Because, apparently, a policeman can't do it on his own. Okay, so the overall concept is a little thin, but I've really enjoyed some of Kellerman's books.

This wasn't one of them.

In this book Dr Delaware is, more believably, called in to consult at his old hospital instead of a crime scene. The case at hand: 21-month-old Cassie Jones' long term mysterious illness. Is it a hard-to-diagnose disease or is she the victim of the hard-to-believe-exists yet chilling Munchausen by proxy syndrome?

Now as a general note, I love mysteries simply because I can never solve them; the ending's always a surprise. Kellerman's are even harder to understand because they're never a straight-forward mystery, but always a sweeping conspiracy.

Now, instead of focusing on Cassie's case and trying to figure out who (parents, nurse, doctor), if anyone, is making her sick, it expands into a conspiracy involving hospital politics, murdered doctors, missing lab technicians, syndicates, the U.N, U.N.I.C.E.F. In the end, pages and pages are wasted delving into the superfluous areas, that the resolution of the case feels a little rushed.

Why everything has to be a conspiracy with Kellerman I don't know. Sometimes, like in this case, the story would profit by just sticking to the main plot; in this case Munchausen's, dark and gruesome all on its own.

Now, I've had my issues with Kellerman in the past, and some of them rear their ugly head again in this book.

He's overly descriptive. There's tons of pointless information described for us in unnecessarily vivid detail, like how a character orders the bills in his wallet or that someone is wearing the same pair of sandals two days in a row.

I also hate the little racist digs he makes in his books: a house being an Arab sheik's plaything; people being enslaved by the Islamic religion. Now he can feel anyway he wants, but I personally don't want to read that trash.

Robin and Alex reconcile in this book, unfortunately. There's nothing interesting about this couple at all. All they have in common is sex. They fall into bed together every time they see each other. Plus, Alex is a horndog. There's yet another pointless scene of him staring down the shirt at the nipples of some inexplicably braless woman.

In this book, like most of his other ones, we don't get a lot of Milo - in terms of personnel life rather than professional. He has a lover, Rick - a character I love, mostly because it seems like he doesn't like Alex. A big minus for me, was that in this book Rick didn't show up once. They talk about him sometimes, but that's it.

It would be interesting to see how two workaholics with stressful jobs manage to stay together even longer than the always ready Alex and Robin, but Kellerman gives us nothing. He's too busy alluding to another Alex and Robin sex scene or describing the minutia of details about all the houses Alex passes on his way to visit Cassie.

A shame too, because I, personally, want to know why Milo stays with Rick when he always seems so angry with him, and dismissive of his advice to stand up for his rights.

Oh well, Kellerman's books are hit and miss. This one's a definite miss.

 

Grade: D