Current reviews
  Reviews by title
  Reviews by author

  Contact Onyx

  Discussion forum


Onyx reviews: Night Moves by Jonathan Kellerman

Reviewed by Bev Vincent, 01/21/2018

Someone killed a man, shot him in the face with a shotgun to obliterate his features, removed his hands to thwart easy identification and then dumped the body. That's not terribly unusual in the annals of crime and crime fiction. What is unusual is that the perpetrator dumped the body in the basement of a suburban household. The family, returning from dinner, makes the terrible discovery and is traumatized.

The nature of the body disposal requires psychological analysis, which is why Alex Delaware is called to the scene shortly after the discovery. What he and Lieutenant Milo Sturgis of the LAPD learn is that there are other psychological issues at play. Chet Corvin and his wife Felice have a cold relationship, their teenage daughter is on the Asperger's spectrum and their son has anger issues. None of this answers the question of why someone would dump a corpse in their house.

The Corvins live in a cul-de-sac of an upscale subdivision. Not a neighborhood, another resident observes, because no one here is neighborly. People are quick to point a finger at Trevor Bitt, the subdivision's most eccentric resident, a reclusive comic book artist whose early works are disturbing and violent. His weirdness is sufficient for people to believe he might be responsible for the crime, and Bitt doesn't help his case when he refuses to cooperate with the investigation. Refuses to even talk to the police.

There's always a certain level of suspension of disbelief when it comes to the Delaware novels, but after thirty-three books in the series readers have grown to accept that Sturgis is not a desk-bound paper pusher, like most cops who have achieved his rank, that his solve rate is sufficient to allow him a great deal of latitude in how he handles case. Readers also accept that Delaware will throw himself completely into any case he's called in to consult on, and that he will go above and beyond the call of duty, investigating in a manner that would probably get any other ordinary citizen in a ton of trouble. Also to be expected: the near-total abandonment of secondary characters, including Delaware and Sturgis's romantic partners. These are buddy books, and Sturgis and Delaware have a long history and mutual respect that does the heavy lifting of making these books as credible as possible.

The mystery deepens when another murder occurs, making it clear that the choice of the Corvin's basement was not a random act. It's also clear that there's a lot more happening on this odd little street than meets the eye, and that the eccentric artist may not be the strangest individual involved in this investigation. Late night surveillance reveals unusual activity, and nosy neighbors are only too eager to spill the beans about things they've seen.

The body is ultimately identified, but this information doesn't do much to point Sturgis and Delaware in the direction of the killer or elucidate the reason why it was left in the Corvin's basement. The case becomes more convoluted as they cast a wider investigative net that takes them into other jurisdictions. The resolution is satisfying, but it's doubtful many readers would be able to anticipate the truth behind the crime until very late in the novel.

Web site and all contents © Copyright Bev Vincent 2018. All rights reserved.