The prolific Kellermans (he: The Conspiracy Code, 2003, etc.; she: Street Dreams, 2003, etc.) jointly pen a pair of crisp, smart novellas.
Writing as a team for the first time, the Kellermans get it just right: pacing, plotting, even the prose, which in the past has been shaky for both. In “Still-Life,” loathsome Santa Fe art dealer Larry Gustafson is found dead by ball-peen hammer, and the SRO suspect list includes an estranged wife, a cheated painter, a brace of embittered senior citizens, and others quite as likely. Laboriously, homicide detectives Darrel Two Moons and Steve Katz begin the dispiriting process of elimination. Two Moons tells his partner about Gustafson: “We keep peeling, he keeps smelling worse.” Still, they do keep on peeling. “In the Land of the Giants” moves to Boston, where another pair of determined cops cope with the case of the slain college basketball idol. But is it in fact a homicide? At first, BPD detectives Mickey McCain and Dorothy Breton consider that a no-brainer. Witnesses by the dozens saw bullets fired into the monumental body of young Julius Van Beest, and he is certainly dead. Why, then, is the ME shaking his head skeptically? What fatal flaw did an autopsy pick up that a series of X-rays missed?
Two sets of blue-collar dicks, working doggedly out of hard-pressed departments in a thoroughly believable way: nothing fancy here, but oh-so-refreshingly readable.