So, I just finished another book. Took me a awhile, but this one was time well spent. Private Eyes by Jonathan Kellerman is a tour de force of mystery, cliffhangers, and descriptive language that draws you in and never lets go.
Brief synopsis: Alex Delaware is a therapist cum detective who stumbles into a mystery involving the disappearance of the very wealthy mother of one of his patients. What makes the disappearance strange is the fact that the mother, Gina Dickenson is a diagnosed agoraphobic who hasn’t left her house for years. As the story progresses, Kellerman skillfully reveals secrets about the cause of Gina’s agoraphobia, about the people surrounding her (her daughter included), and ultimately who dunnit.
A good mystery writer in my opinion knows how to keep you on the edge of your seat, or in this case, on the edge of the next page. Kellerman does this masterfully by describing details so vividly that the reader is instantly able to get there in his/her head. Reading one of his books is as absorbing as watching TV. Here’s an example of what I mean. In this passage, Alex Delaware visits the Dickenson house for the first time:
“Around was a vast space crammed with treasures–an entry hall big enough for croquet, and at it’s rear a sinous green marble staircase. Beyond the stairs , cavernos room after cavernous room… Cathedral and coffered ceilings, mirror-sheen paneling, tapestries, stained-glass skylights, kaleidoscopic Oriental and Aubusson rugs over floors of inlaid marble and hand-painted tile and French walnut parquet. So much sheen and opulence that my senses overloaded and I felt myself loosing equilibrium.”
Just reading that again, makes my head swim just like Alex’s and I am instantly there, standing in that foyer, anticipating the events that will unfold. Brilliant! This dedication to detail coupled with a tried-and-true cliffhanger at the end of each chapter makes for one hell of a read. If my time was truly mine, I would of read this one in one sitting.
The only complaint that I have about the book is that it sometimes dove too deep into the science of psychology; so deep that I found myself screaming, “Get back to the story!” While it’s intriguing to have main characters suffering from agoraphobia and obsessive compulsive disorder, the ad nauseum explanation of those disorders is not, especially when it doesn’t contribute to plot development. This posturing could just be Kellerman flexing his expertise as a clinical psychologist which is okay for academic writing. Fiction however, is more about entertainment and for that purpose, it’s better to give the quick and dirty and move on.
All in all, Private Eyes is a fairly enjoyable read and if you’re into psychological thrillers and intricate mysteries, I highly suggest you pick it up.