THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD by Jonathan Kellerman
Kirkus Star



Two masters of psychological suspense weave a sprawling contemporary whodunit steeped in religious mythology, gruesome violence and the supernatural. 

A sardonic-depressive LAPD detective wakes up hung over with a beautiful brunette in his bed and can’t remember how she got there. (At least she’s alive.) The next thing he knows, he’s been ordered off desk duty to join a “special” unit that’s looking into the inexplicable appearance of a severed head in an abandoned living room. So far, anyway, we would appear to be treading on well-worn territory. But this father-son collaboration of Jonathan (the Alex Delaware mystery series) and Jesse (Potboiler, 2012, etc.) Kellerman has more on its mind than bizarro SoCal murder. The far-flung investigation by police detective (and rabbi's son) Jacob Lev, which takes him from Los Angeles to Prague and Oxford and back again, is interwoven with a tale, spanning eons, of ancient retribution and mystic transfiguration involving Jewish ritual and mythology; at its center, as the title implies, is a monstrous being built to render justice upon the wicked—including a serial killer or two. In clammier hands, this mixture would come across as a goopy farrago. But this is a witty, propulsive and frequently chilling read; its phantasmagorical elements are blended seamlessly enough with its up-to-the-minute crime-genre trappings to give its imaginative speculations some eerie plausibility. One caveat: The snappy back and forth between characters works better in the contemporary segments than in the ancient ones. But what’s a few stray anachronisms in a story as ambitious and as entertaining as this?

Any mystery that leaves you as satisfied with its lingering questions as it does with its solutions is worth your patronage.

Pub Date: Sept. 16th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-399-16236-7
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2014


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