When a young couple parked for a little late night loving beside an empty house on Mulholland Drive are found murdered with what appears to be sexual overtones, LAPD Detective Milo Sturgis is stumped. While the woman eludes identification completely, Milo and his consulting psychologist sidekick, Alex Delaware, identify the male as Gavin Quick, a troubled young man undergoing psychotherapy as a result of behavioural changes attributed to a severe head injury he received in a car accident. The chance discovery that Quick's therapist, Mary Lou Koppel, had another patient who was murdered only a year earlier seemed like a coincidence until Koppel herself was found murdered with an MO that resembled the first double killing. The game is on as Sturgis and Delaware track the killer on a convoluted trail that crosses prison reform, group therapy, fraudulent billing and insurance scams, Rwandan genocide (yes, you read that one right) and mercenary killers for hire!
That may all seem a little far-fetched, to be sure, but the story rests on a firm foundation of clues and, as always, thought-provoking analysis and deductions that rely on Delaware's understanding of the human condition as a psychologist. But, unlike "Rage", a story which was a near incomprehensible thicket of psycho-babble, "Therapy" is a straightforward police procedural but set firmly and predictably in Kellerman's well-known psychology environment.
Much of the story is told in the form of a give-and-take brainstorming dialogue between Delaware and Sturgis in which they bounce their ideas about the case off one another. While this technique may prove wearisome and perhaps difficult to follow in a regular book format, Rubenstein's scintillating performance on the audio book presentation brought Kellerman's command of realistic dialogue to life and made this form of story-telling straightforward and marvelously entertaining!
There was also a moment toward the end of the novel that deserves special recognition. Of course, the Jane Doe from the opening chapters was ultimately identified. When her brother arrived to confirm the identification and claim the body, the conversation that he had with Delaware was so bleak, so poignant and so gut-wrenching, it almost broke my heart. Frankly, I've always thought of Kellerman as a thriller writer and I never thought that he had writing at that level in him.