Book review: Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman

Title: Serpentine

Author: Jonathan Kellerman

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Random House

Publication date: 4th February 2021

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


LAPD homicide lieutenant Milo Sturgis is a master detective. He has a near-perfect solve rate and he’s written his own rulebook. Some of those successes–the toughest ones – have involved his best friend, the brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But Milo doesn’t call Alex in unless cases are “different.”

This murder warrants an immediate call: Milo’s independence has been compromised as never before, as the department pressures him to cater to the demands of a mogul. A hard-to-fathom, mega-rich young woman obsessed with reopening the coldest of cases: the decades-old death of the mother she never knew.

The facts describe a likely loser case: a mysterious woman found with a bullet in her head in a torched Cadillac that has overturned on infamously treacherous Mulholland Drive. No physical evidence, no witnesses, no apparent motive. And a slew of detectives have already worked the job and failed. But as Delaware and Sturgis begin digging, the mist begins to lift. Too many coincidences. Facts turn out to be anything but. And as they soon discover, very real threats are lurking in the present.

My review:

Detective Milos Sturgis and psychologist Alex Delaware work together on a complex case that leads them to a set of bizarre locations and suspicious characters. The cold case soon turns interesting as the team connect the seemingly unbelievable coincidences to discover that most characters are not who they seem.

Jonathan Kellerman features his most prominent writing traits in Serpentine including his excellent ability to paint a picture of a crime scene and lure the reader into a sense of false security as the crime develops into a race against time. This trait is also one of the key highlights in Serpentine and encouraged me to keep reading despite several slower paced parts in the middle.

The two main characters, Milos Sturgis and Alex Delaware, worked well together and I enjoyed the insightful feedback from both the detective’s view and psychologist’s experience. Whenever one missed an important detail the other would point it out and vice versa and their teamwork was extremely important towards the end when surprising relationships between the characters emerged.

I struggled with the monotonous and matter-of-fact writing style which did not veer far from direct speech and few dispersed descriptions. I realise that this is the preferred style of the author however it didn’t suit many of the adrenaline filled scenes and often read too much like a movie or play script.

Serpentine boasts a set of delightful characters and an impressive plot. It kept my interest until the very end with a surprising reveal and promise for more action in the next book in the series.

Serpentine is out to buy today!

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

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