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.