Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

Twisted, by Jonathan Kellerman (abridged audio)

Cover Image  At Amazon

Jonathan Kellerman is an internationally bestselling thriller writer chiefly known for his novels about Alex Delaware, a child psychologist who routinely helps out Los Angeles homicide detective Milo Sturgis. When The Bough Breaks, Kellerman’s first novel, introduced Alex Delaware. At the time, the author was still a working psychologist, specializing in child psychology, which was also Delaware’s chosen field.

However, Kellerman sometimes breaks free of his primary series character for a run through new territory.  Petra Connor has seen action on her own in Billy Straight and then with Alex Delaware in A Cold Heart.

In Twisted, Petra Connor works as a homicide detective in Hollywood. She’s recently fallen in love Eric Stahl, her partner, and is still fumbling her way through that, trying to figure out how much it’s going to impact her life and whether or not she should even let it. Eric lost his wife and child to a drunk driver and has been emotionally dead for years. Petra’s love has brought him back to life somewhat, but neither of them knows if it’s going to be enough to bring him all the way.

Petra doesn’t work within conventional boundaries. She’s abrasive and dogged in her approach. Once she’s dedicated herself to tracking down a murderer, Petra will do whatever she has to do to get the job done. That hardnosed approach has brought her trouble in the past, and it adds up quickly in this book.

As the novel opens up, Eric has been drawn back into military special forces and intelligence operations, which was where he’d come from before signing on with the LAPD. After the 9/11 bombing, with all the new openings at Homeland Security, Eric got moved back into military intelligence and is currently in the Middle East.

Petra struggles with being alone and trying to figure out where she’s going. Working the night shift, Petra gets called into a mass shooting that leaves several teenagers dead. Kellerman’s ear for dialogue and people’s actions and reactions in this scene is dead on. The imagery is stark and moving, and propels the reader (listener, in this case) to start wondering why something like this would happen and who would do it.

In addition to the multiple murders, Petra also gets pulled into a chase for a serial killer by Isaac Gomez, the brilliant prodigy currently studying for his doctorate at USC. Isaac has an interest in solving crimes. His thesis has uncovered a potential murderer that’s been striking every June 28th for the last several years.

At first, Petra doesn’t want to take on any other work. Between the multiple slayings, which quickly draws political and intradepartmental attention she hadn’t counted on, and finding a middle ground for the problems with her relationship with Eric, she’s totally stressed. However, once she becomes just as convinced as Isaac that a serial killer is out there, she can’t help but go after that person as well.

The story, even in this abridged audio version, remains multi-layered and complex. The chain of events is logical and the author stays one step ahead of the armchair detectives chasing the killers with Petra and Isaac.

Kellerman always provides something of an education in his novels. Usually, in the Alex Delaware novels, that education centers on psychology, which is Kellerman’s forte. In addition to homicide work and murder in Twisted, the audience also receives a smattering of information about gypsies and statistic crunching.

Lindsay Crouse reads the story with authority, working the pacing and dramatic tension for all it’s worth. Her tonal variation works well, providing different voices for the different characters. She’s a pleasure to listen to.

Twisted ends up being as much Isaac’s story as Petra’s ultimately. Kellerman takes the reader/listener into the private lives of each character, delineating their similarities, differences, strengths, and weaknesses. The investigation follows predictable paths, but there are twists and turns that will catch most mystery buffs off guard.

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