Doctor Death

by Jonathan Kellerman

Reviewed by Coral

This time round Milo and Alex are investigating the murder of Eldon Mate, an "Angel of Death" who has euthanized/killed 50 people. So, naturally, there's a long list of suspects, including a family Alex has counseled in the past. Conflict of interest much?

Kellerman's back to his weak premises. Why should Alex be called to consult on this case? Well, the reasoning is always pretty weak. I mean, what kind of cop is Milo? How does he solve all these other cases, but needs hand holding for the "big ones" or the "complicated ones"? Milo actually says in this book, "How the hell should I know if it has merit?" in regards to the theory that something's been taken from the crime scene. Um, hello, you're a cop, isn't that your job? And then there's the fact we've been told Milo's an English Major but he doesn't seem to know the imagery of Beowulf as valiant monster killer, Alex has to point it out to him. Man, even I knew that. I had to read that book three times, in high school.

The style is, once again, overly descriptive. Why do we really need a road by road breakdown of what the traffic is like between Alex's house and the crime scene? Believe me, it has nothing to do with solving the mystery.

A minor detail, really, is that yet another transitory character is named Richard in this book. What is with Kellerman and this name? He already has a semi-permanent tertiary character with that name, Dr. Richard Silverman - Milo's Rick - and yet he keeps using it for book-long, never heard from again suspects and victims and patients. Lack of imagination? There are thousands of names out there, find another one.

I can't say for sure, but I get the distinct feeling that Kellerman sees all women as being these petite little Calista Flockhart things. Either that or he just doesn't know that much about the human weight system. The way he describes this 210 lbs woman is insultingly ridiculous. When your eyes get lost in the folds of skin of your bladder-like cheeks, you're 400+ lbs. Two-hundred and ten pounds is more like a real woman, more like Oprah who, despite not being wisp thin, is still beautiful.

Euthanasia is, for the most part, the central theme of this book. But like every other controversial issue Kellerman discusses he deals with it in such a way as to ridicule, demean and dismiss the side of the issue he obviously disagrees with. I realize his character of Eldon Mate is just a knock-off of Doctor Kervorkian, but it's the way he portrays everyone who is pro-euthanasia as being death-obsessed. He uses this opportunity to poke fun at yet another culture that's different from his. This time: the Dutch. In the Netherlands euthanasia is legal, with some very strict provisions: like making sure the patient is fully informed of their prognosis, that the patient will never get better, and that the patient voluntarily requested his right to die. Of course to Kellerman this means they are also death-obsessed, and not a place you'd want to choke on a chicken sandwich.



Grade: F