Jonathan Kellerman’s The Museum of Desire is the 35th book in the popular Alex Delaware / Milo Sturgis series. I’ve been reading the series since its advent, missing just one a few years ago.
For those who are newcomers to the series, the pair are old friends… Milo is a homicide detective, and Alex a psychologist often called on for Milo’s quirkier cases.
The Museum of Desire
by Jonathan Kellerman
Series: Alex Delaware #35
Published by Century
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Crime Fiction
ISBN: 1780899033, 9781780899046
A run-down mansion nestled between Beverley Hills and the San Fernando Valley is leased out for one night to house a party big enough to herald the end of days.
When a limo is discovered in the grounds of the house the morning after with four dead bodies inside, a mind-bending case begins.
With no link between the four people in the car, and each of the victims murdered in a different way, psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis are about to begin their grisliest and most baffling case yet.
And as they struggle to make sense of the vicious mass slaying, they will be forced to confront a level of lust and evil for which their combined wisdom can provide no preparation.
It says something about me that I was slightly distracted by the fact that – very early on – Milo and Alex left Alex’s car at the crime scene and went off investigating in Milo’s car. Later Milo dropped Alex off at his house. I waited for mention that Alex had to collect his car the next day or have it delivered to him, instead he drove to a meeting somewhere. And I do realise it’s the pragmatist in me who’d notice something like that. I tend to be kinda anal about planning and logistics in my everyday life so….
Anyhoo. Onward and upward… Alex is brought in because of the macabre nature of this crime. I was a little surprised at how horrified the investigators and crime scene specialists were because it’s not particularly gruesome or gory. I guess it’s just weird. Four disparate people placed in a vehicle – on display – two of whom have no obvious cause of death, and buckets of blood that seem to have no origin at the scene.
From the get-go Alex sees the crime scene as ‘theatre’, as something more than random killings. There’s certainly a message and he and Milo start investigating the victims to understand how and why they were chosen. Or whether they were random… just very unlucky.
We’re introduced to a range of suspects, with varying degrees of connection to the victims but it’s a case that stumps the dynamic duo for a while.
As usual Kellerman balances the investigation with details of Milo and Alex’s dining experiences, as well as those of Alex and Robin’s (I’ve always assumed Kellerman to be a bit of a foodie!). I know for a while I was a little frustrated by the distraction offered by Robin but think Kellerman now has that balance of her involvement – as a sounding board and someone to ground Alex – right.
I enjoyed this 35th outing of Milo and Alex and it leap-frogged my reading pile on arrival. The series is a bit like that of JD Robb, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton and so forth. It’s a familiar comfort read. It’s probably not as consistent as Robb’s series (though I recall complaining it was also wavering for a while there).
I mention earlier I’d accidentally missed a book in this series at some point. And yet, I lived to tell the tale.
I realise however (sadly) that I wouldn’t die in a ditch if I missed another book in this series. I mean, I don’t intend to skip one, but it occurs to me that the books have become a little same-ish. Kellerman offers up interesting crimes and investigations but I think there’s less nuance. Little happens outside of the investigation at hand and there’s no longer any character growth. In earlier books Alex was often challenged by contemporaries or forced to consider his own shortcomings or assumptions.
Of course, I still enjoy Alex and Milo’s camaraderie and the latter’s weird eating habits, so I’ll be back for more.
The Museum of Desire by Jonathan Kellerman will be published in Australia by Penguin and available from 4 February 2020.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.