The Burning (Clay Edison #4), by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Eight stars

Always eager when the father-son collaborative duo of Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman publish, I was happy to see the latest in the Clay Edison series. While his job may seem simple enough, Clay Edison always look for new challenges in the workplace. His latest case has a personal spin that he cannot shake, turning his world upside down as he seeks answers before his family learns what may be a bitter truth. Another winner in this series that keeps getting better.

While wildfires burn across California, some areas have taken to turning off power in order to conserve it. Such is the case where Clay Edison and his family live. After sending his pregnant wife and daughter away, both because of smoke and a lack of power, Edison forges ahead with his job as Deputy Coroner.

When attending the crime scene of a wealthy man who was shot and killed in his home, Edison makes a startling discovery in the victim’s garage. It would appear that Clay’s brother, Luke, has left his flash vehicle there, which is soon substantiated when running the tags. Hoping to make sense of it all, Deputy Coroner does what he does best and investigates, but Luke has gone missing and no one seems to know what’s happened.

At first glance, it is likely only a coincidence, but things begin to get even more troubling when Edison finds the bloody murder weapon at a gas station on the outskirts of town. Could Luke be guilty of a crime, just as he’s getting his life back together?

Leaving no stone unturned, Edison looks for Luke and tries to keep it from the family, but must soon admit what could be a horrible truth. Luke Edison might be guilty of another murder, this time by his own hand. Still, something does not seem right and Clay will stop at nothing until he vindicates the only sibling he’s ever known.

While I have never read any of the Jonathan Kellerman novels, I did take a great interest in Jesse’s solo work years ago. After a few collaborative flops, these two created the Clay Edison series and I could not get enough of the books. Filled with great stories and wonderfully dry wit, these were a refreshing perspective in a genre that is supersaturated with books. Unique angles and strong character development help the Kellermans develop something many reader can enjoy for years to come.

Clay Edison is a wonderful protagonist and keeps things working well throughout. His attention to detail and meticulous investigative skills are matched by a personal side that makes him approachable. This novel saw some great backstory development for Clay, permitting the reader a deeper gander in a life of sports, love, and sibling rivalry. Clay Edison connects well to the attentive reader, perhaps like no other book in the series to date.

The Kellermans have a great writing style and can create a powerful story with their collaborate efforts. The narrative clips along, creating strong scenes and wonderful descriptions for the reader, mixing crime and familial connections when they are both suitable. A handful of strong characters combine with plot twists that keep the reader guessing, this is another example of how established writers can use what they do best and make it even better. I can only hope that there is more to the series and that these two remain a strong team.

Kudos, Messrs. Kellerman, for another great novel. I am spoiled by you both and cannot wait for what’s next!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Half Moon Bay (Clay Edison #3), by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Eight stars

Returning for another father/son collaboration, Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman present the third novel in their Clay Edison series. Adding depth not only to their protagonist, but to the plot, the Kellermans left me remembering why I enjoy this series and their writing. Father to a young daughter, Coroner Clay Edison is called out to a park in Berkeley after a construction crew unearths the remains of a young child. Edison does what he can in a professional capacity, though this does not appear to be a new body dump, which makes things a little more complicated. After learning that the body dates back over fifty years, Edison takes a personal interest in the case and works it as best he can. Identifying the remains and sifting through some independent media sources from 1969, Edison makes some connections to the parents of the child, paying a visit to a father who has no idea what is going on. However, Edison commits to hashing out the story and continues down many a rabbit hole. What first appears to be an abandoned body soon turns into something a great deal more complicated, which includes an FBI angle that muddies the waters. Torn between this pet project and his own young daughter, Clay Edison will have to do everything he can to put a face to the victim and develop a foundational story to provide the authorities so that it is not another forgotten case left to gather dust. An interesting addition to the series by two accomplished authors in their own rights, which builds on the protagonist to lure in new series fans. Recommended to those who like their crime thrillers that tackle the genre from a different perspective, as well as the reader who is a fan of either (or both) Kellerman authors.

I have a history reading Jesse Kellerman and was pleased to have the chance to see how well he meshes with his father’s style. The two work well together and provide the reader with an interesting approach to crime thrillers that skirt the borders of a police procedural. Clay Edison emerges from this piece with a great deal more emotional connection to the reader, particularly because the central victim and his own daughter were both so young. The reader can see the strains the case has on Edison, who remains strong and focussed on the task at hand. There is a great deal of character development here with little time to look backwards. I enjoyed this, as it kept things moving in a forward direction and left me wanting to know even more. There are other characters who play central roles throughout this piece and help to strengthen the foundation of an already decent story. These influences create a wonderful mix for the Kellermans as they build on a case that spans five decades. The story itself was quite well paced and kept building as the plot thickened. I enjoyed the contrast that Edison is forced to offer between the case and spending time with his daughter, which was a brilliant thing for the authors to do. The action never stops and even when things seem to hit a dead end, there is something there to resurrect them and new pathways are forged to keep the reader hooked. With some social commentary about identity in an era before computers, the authors educate readers while entertaining them throughout. While this was a quick read for me, those who wish to take a little more time will not loose the impact of the story. The mix of chapter lengths can only help create a buzz that will have the reader coming back for more with each page turn. I can only hope that there are more novels in the series to come, as this is surely one I will follow for as long as there are ideas to hash out.

Kudos, Messrs. Kellerman, for a wonderful addition to the series. I am hooked and hope others find this series to their liking as well!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

A Measure of Darkness (Clay Edison #2), by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Eight stars

Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman return with another successful collaborative effort as they continue their new series. This comes after a disastrous effort that many readers still remember. A late-night shooting outside an Oakland home brings Clay Edison to the scene. An investigator for the Coroner’s Office, Edison spends much of his time trying to locate the next of kin while also working to better understand the rationale, paralleling some of the work undertaken by the police. While the deaths took place at a single location, bullets were not the only weapon of choice. Adding to the complications, Edison must try to identify the bodies, which proves harder than it might seem. The case branches out and forces Edison into the world of the transgender community, who protect themselves, erecting walls of privacy they feel prevents societal shaming. While Edison must walk on eggshells in this regard, it pales in comparison to some of the other mysteries of the case surrounding an alternative school with a history of bucking the mainstream. The further Edison digs, the more complicated things became. If this were not enough, Clay’s brother appears after a stint in jail with news of his own, enough to topple the apple cart for Clay and those close to him. The Kellerman men provide a fast-paced and highly entertaining piece that explores the criminal process from a unique perspective. Recommended for fans of both authors and their collaborative efforts, as well as readers who love a good police procedural.

I have read most of what Jesse Kellerman has written, though I soured on him after reading the aforementioned literary disaster. However, when I saw such rave reviews for the series debut novel, I took the plunge and was pleased with the outcome. The Kellerman men have a great grasp of writing that puts the reader at ease and keeps them connection to the cases at hand. Clay Edison, a college basketball phenom whose career abruptly ended, has adapted to life as a coroner’s investigator. He’s a great character whose off-hand approach to life and work keeps the story moving along well. He has a way about him that has the reader wondering where his mind is going and what he is thinking, keeping the narrative twisting in numerous directions. The reader sees much of his backstory emerging with the arrival of his brother on the scene. Bringing up memories of their youth and the different paths they chose at an important fork in the road helps the reader to relate a little better with him. Adding a collection of characters who differ greatly from one another, the authors inject an interesting flavour to the story, such that the reader will not likely become tired as the narrative progresses. Tackling a few poignant societal issues, the authors provide an interesting—and I would venture to say, ‘healthy’—discussion of the issues, choosing to offer a perspective that is respectful without being soap box-esque. This provides the reader with some insight that may not have been at their disposal before, perhaps opening the minds or sparking an ongoing debate. The story certainly flows well and reads like a police procedural, though without much of the gritty banter between authorities and witnesses. The seamless writing style of these two established authors is reflected in the ease with which the reader can progress in short order. I am definitely looking forward for more in this series, though understand personal commitments of both Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman may make another novel a distant dream.

Kudos, Messrs. Kellerman, for another stellar piece. You have great fan bases and I hope you’ll continue to cater to them for the foreseeable future.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

Crime Scene (Clay Edison #1), by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Eight stars

In another joint effort, Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman seek to hit the reset button after a miserable writing venture about monsters and other such inane topics. After taking a breather, this piece allows their true colours to shine through, crafting a superior series debut novel. Clay Edison has quite the life as a deputy sheriff with the county coroner’s office. Edison attends crime scenes to help move along the manner of death and working to notify families of loss, when appropriate. While the job has its macabre side, Edison can find small crumbs of interest, especially when a case takes on an unexpected twist. Attending the scene of an apparent fall, Edison encounters a distraught Tatiana Rennert-Delavigne, daughter of the victim, one Walter Rennert. Edison must calm Tatiana, who is sure that her father’s death was anything but accidental, citing an old murder from 1993 that bore similarities. Unable to provide any concrete answers at the scene, Edison assures the distraught woman that he will be in touch, his brain curious about the aforementioned murder from the nineties. The autopsy seems to back up the suspected accidental death from a fall, showing heart issues, but that only piques Edison’s curiosity even more. Medication prescribed to Rennert seems to have come from an unlikely source and Edison runs a little longer with this 1993 murder to see if there are truly parallels. There appears to be something, as Rennert was a psychology professor running an interesting study in years past, seeking to find a parallel between violent video games and the behaviour that came from it. When one of the test subjects, Julian Triplett, was charged and convicted with the murder of Rennert’s student assistance on the study, the academic exploration’s relevance seems to heighten. Now, all these years later, Edison must try to determine if Triplett could have something to do with Rennert’s death, while not being completely convinced that there was foul play at all. With a handful of cases cluttering up his desk and the desire not to get too involved with Tatiana, Clay Edison must remember the limits to his job and let those in a position of authority crack the case, if there is one at all. The Kellermans prove that they can work together to create a wonderful story and thriller, given the proper tools. I had written them off as a team, but must now rethink my critique, as long as they stick to series like this. Surely, crime thriller lovers will want to test the waters with this piece, which has all the ingredients for a successful novel.

I will admit to being a long-time Jesse Kellerman fan and have heard much about his father. Excitement spilt over when I heard they penned a novel together, but that turned to disappointment when I read the poorly crafted piece that significant undershorts the NYT Bestselling Author moniker both have procured. Slowly, I thawed to the idea of returning to one of their novels, seeing others praise this collaboration, and am now glad that I gave them the chance. Clay Edison proves to be an interesting character, packed full with a backstory that will lure the reader in a little further. A college basketball star who remained local, allowing is past glory envelop him for those who remember his court antics. Now, working in that job that straddles the coroner with police authority, Edison’s work pushes him to the limits and allows him a little chance to sleuth around, without the gun or cuffs. Pairing him with a few strong secondary characters, the Kellermans allow Edison’s various character flaws to come through, as well as the strength of his determination. The attentive reader will even see one of Jonathan Kellerman’s protagonists play a cameo role in part of the story, which seems to enrich at least that portion of the tale. The story itself is intriguing, though one cannot call it entirely unique. A killer potentially on the loose and seeking some form of retribution for his crime. It does have aspects of a beaten, dead horse, but it is the way the Kellermans present it that keeps the reader wanting to know more. I am curious, I will admit that, though I am still not sure how deep this series can go. I would like to see more before diving head-long into complete praise, but have seen a great deal of potential here.

Kudos, Messrs. Kellerman, as you embark on what I can only hope is a more successful and less asinine journey than Golem work. I am intrigued and hope the literary vapours that seep from your family will create more successful novels soon.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: