Monthly Archives: September 2016

What I’m reading now: Jonathan Kellerman

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Of all the mystery writers who crank out a book a year, Jonathan Kellerman is one of my favorites. I’ve read his entire Alex Delaware series and enjoyed them all. I’ve tried to get into the other wildly famous mystery writers – but the only ones I continue to read are those who write series. Because, in the end, it’s about the characters for me. (Probably why I write a series, huh?) Sue Grafton, Robert Crais, and Louise Penny: it’s Kinsey Millhone, Elvis Cole, and Armand Gamache who keep me coming back.

Anyway. Alex Delaware is a child psychologist (as was Kellerman, originally) who consults with the LAPD on the psychological aspect of crimes. He gets to question witnesses, go to crime scenes and autopsies, and sit behind the one-way mirror during interviews, which removes any concern on my part that Jamie Brodie’s consulting with the police is unrealistic. His homicide detective best friend is Lt. Milo Sturgis, a gay cop, who has the best solve rate in the LAPD.

But for me these days, the BEST thing about the Alex Delaware series is that it takes place in West LA. Yes, Lt. Sturgis works out of the West LA Division of the LAPD – as do Kevin Brodie and Jon Eckhoff. I’ve learned all kinds of useful things about West LA by reading Kellerman’s books. Here’s an example, from his latest books, Breakdown:

“The other detectives at West LA work out of a big room with lockers and coffee machines, a clamorous environment that bustles with work ethic and frustration and gallows humor.”

Exactly as I’d pictured it.

The West LA Division, like the rest of LAPD, hasn’t always had the best reputation. Back in 1994 there was an investigation into widespread sexual harassment there. The LA Times said, “LAPD’s West Los Angeles station… has a long-held but hotly disputed reputation for hostility toward women” (http://articles.latimes.com/1994-02-18/news/mn-24464_1_sexual-harassment). Also, Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered in West LA territory, and the detectives that handled the case – including Mark Fuhrman, remember him? – were partly blamed for mishandling and possibly planting evidence, all of which helped exonerate OJ Simpson. That was 1995.

Since then, from what I can tell, things have improved at West LA Division. Their captains are a white woman and an Asian man. Their rating on Google Reviews is 4.2/5.

Jonathan Kellerman is, of course, a famous, award-winning writer, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s been inside the station and knows officers there. He does live in LA part-time as well. That’s why I search his books for clues as to what Kevin and Jon’s work might be like. If you want to read more about crime in the West LA area, check out the Alex Delaware series.

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A sneak peek from Trapped to Death

In Jamie Brodie-land, Trapped to Death begins today. (The book is still on track for publication in late November.) To mark the occasion, here’s an unedited segment from Chapter 4.

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What was that? By derivative work: Djmirko (talk) YellowLabradorLooking.jpg: User:Habj (YellowLabradorLooking.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, September 25

I was dreaming that Pete and I had returned to Jennifer’s former apartment. We knocked, but it wasn’t Jennifer that answered the door – it was Barb Simmons. Behind her, the apartment was stacked to the ceiling with thousands and thousands of books. She scowled at us. “What are you doing here?”

I said, “We came for your books.”

“Oh, no, you don’t.” Barb tried to slam the door shut. Pete stuck his foot out to block her, and Ammo began to bark…  

I woke up. Ammo was on his feet, ears perked, growling. I raised my head to look at him, and he woofed. Not a full-throated bark, but enough to make his point. Something was going on.

I glanced at the clock – 3:30 am. Ammo woofed again and went to the door. Pete made a “mmph” sound and rolled over. I slipped as quietly as possible out of bed and pulled on a pair of briefs. The windows of our bedroom were above head height, so I couldn’t see out of them. I parted the blinds in the door leading to the deck and peered out, but I couldn’t see much.

When I opened the bedroom door, Ammo shot downstairs to the back door. I tiptoed after him and went to the peephole. There was nothing on the first-floor deck or the steps leading to the pavement. Everything else was in darkness. I went to the living room; there was nothing outside the front door peephole. I cracked the blinds on our large front windows and saw nothing out of place.

Ammo stood at the back door, growling. He barked twice, sharply. I went back to the kitchen and peeked out the back door. Our back porch light revealed nothing. The rest of the alley was in shadow. I listened for a moment and heard nothing.

Ammo had his nose pressed to the screened door, sniffing and whining.

Hm.

Whatever it was, it didn’t seem to be a threat to us. I said, “I don’t know, big guy. Wish you could tell me what you heard.”

Ammo looked up at me and whined again.

I closed and locked the back door. “Back to bed?”

He knew the word bed. He turned reluctantly and trotted back up the steps.

When I slid back into bed Pete grunted softly. “What?”

“Ammo heard something, but everything seems quiet.”

“Mmph.”

“Sorry I woke you.”

“Was Ammo’s toenails.”

“Ah. Go back to sleep.”

He followed orders as well as Ammo did and was out again in seconds. Before I went back to sleep myself, I made a mental note to clip Ammo’s nails.

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