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
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
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
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