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.