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True Detectives    by Jonathan Kellerman order for
True Detectives
by Jonathan Kellerman
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In True Detectives, Jonathan Kellerman brings back the two half brothers (Moses Reed and Aaron Fox) he introduced in Bones. They are the sons of the same mother, Maddy (an unusual character in her own right), and of two police officers (black Darius Fox and white Jack Reed) who were partners until the former was shot on the job.

The siblings, who have at best an uneasy and complicated relationship, end up working the same case. Aaron Fox, an ex-cop, turned PI, drives a Porsche and has a bedroom-sized wardrobe filled with expensive clothes. He attracts women easily but has no current relationship. His ex-lover Liana Parlat, who makes a 'respectable income of commercial voice-overs', does occasional investigative work for him.

Aaron's brother Moses Reed is a young LAPD cop, who looks up to Milo Sturgis as a mentor and is keen to prove himself (Milo suggests he consult with psychologist Alex Delaware, who has a walk-on part in this novel). Moses has a strong relationship with gorgeous black coroner Liz Wilkinson.

Though Moses has just transferred to West L. A. Division, the unsolved case of the disappearance of straight-A student Caitlin Frostig (missing for fifteen months) follows him there. His elder brother, PI Aaron, takes on Caitlin's case for his best client, tycoon Leonid Davidovitch Dmitri, whose accountant is the girl's morose father. Both cops and PI assume that Caitlin is surely dead by now.

Their investigations (some results of which they share) unveil a connection to the murder of a young hooker (whose baby is missing) and to popular actor Mason Book, 'an anorexic, addicted zombie with no will.' (Caitlin's boyfriend works for said actor and seems to be less wholesome than the cops initially assumed.) Then there's a movie director (his last work was condemned as 'racist agitprop' but made hundreds of millions) who beats his wife, and whose thuggish son hangs out with the actor - and with a pimp and drug dealer.

As always Jonathan Kellerman delivers a solid police procedural, enriched by a depth of characterization, fascinating psychological insights, well developed red herrings, and more than one surprise in the ending. The tensions between the half brothers - and inherent in their different approaches to the same case - add greatly to the reader's interest as do all the colorful players in True Detectives. I hope we'll see much more of Aaron, Moses, Liz, Liana and Maddy.

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