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Deception: An Alex Delaware Novel    by Jonathan Kellerman order for
by Jonathan Kellerman
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Though I enjoy all of Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels - for the easy banter between Alex and LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis as much as for the twisting plots of the mysteries - I found his latest, Deception, to be one of the better entries in the series.

Milo quickly ropes in Alex after he's assigned a sizzling hot potato of a politically sensitive case. Elise Freeman was a substitute teacher, and regular tutor, at the elite Windsor Prep Academy, filled with bright kids 'under lots of pressure academically, athletically, and socially.' She has been murdered, the body preserved in dry ice in the bathtub of her home. A DVD is found amongst her belongings, in which she accuses three fellow instructors (two men and a woman) at Prep of 'engaging in brutal, unsolicited, and threatening sexual behavior.' Her home computer is missing.

Why is the case being micro-managed from on high? The police chief's son attends Prep and negative publicity might adversely impact his application to Yale. Who are the suspects? They begin with the Prep threesome, continue with Elise's loser boyfriend (who found the body), and move on to an old student with whom she stayed involved, and a current student she tutored, who had problems with anger management. When the latter goes missing, he seems to be the obvious suspect, but cases are never so simple in a Kellerman mystery.

Deception is a thoroughly engaging police procedural, enhanced by Alex's key insights into human behavior, by Milo's doggedness, and by a twisting, turning plot. Not only is whodunit a surprise, but also the identity and motivation of someone who kept secrets pertinent to the case - and in so doing served justice. I highly recommend Deception to you and look forward to spending more time with Delaware and Sturgis.

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