by Jonathan Kellerman

Reviewed by Coral

Michaela Brand and Dylan Meserve are wannabe actors who hit upon an unlikely scheme to attract themselves some publicity: they fake their own abduction and imprisonment. And it works, for a short time they are the front story of every L.A. newspaper, until their scheme is uncovered and they are charged with obstruction of justice and filling a false police report.

Alex is drawn into the case when Michaela's lawyer seeks him out for a psychiatric evaluation, hoping to prove that Michaela was tricked and coerced into the scheme by Dylan. In the end Alex isn't really needed as the case is quickly settled and forgotten about, until Michaela is brutally murdered and Dylan goes missing, this time for real.

Now, to solve her murder Alex and Milo must sift through the lies surrounding Michaela and Dylan's bizarre scheme to get to the truth, and her killer.

Overall, this book was pretty disappointing.

I wish that both Allison and Robin would disappear and that the subject of Alex's love life would resurface ever again. I'm bored with these plots. Who will he choose? Will he cheat on one with the other? I don't care about Alex or who he's sleeping with. I never have. Just pick one and relegate them to the same status Rick has - a couple of lines a book - and I'd be thrilled.

I guess now we're just supposed to forget that Milo was ever assigned to work on cold cases only. I mean, this certainly wasn't a cold case, so I don't understand why he was the detective working it. I also don't understand why Alex would be the psychiatrist used to determine Michaela's level of participation/forced coercion in regards to her scheme with Dylan. He's a child psychologist, his work with Milo aside.  And the explanation that was given just seemed a contrived way to make him a part of the case. Unnecessary, really, because Milo always has him tag along.

I also think the plot was contrived and ended completely ridiculously. I can't really say much without spoiling the ending, but it seems unlikely to me that someone with the both the facilities the killer had available, and the specific kind of trophies the killer seemed to like would ever leave corpses behind to be found.  Of course without Michaela's body it would just be two people known for faking one disappearance vanishing again, so how likely would it be that someone would bother looking for them at all. Which is why I think the plot is contrived.

One plus: this may be the first Kellerman book without a racist, offensive statement. I'm shocked.

Grade: C