Bonnie’s Book Bytes: No “Bones” about it; Jonathan Kellerman’s latest is a hit

Bonnie Godas

I have always been fascinated by how people become attracted to certain genres of fiction, and suspense novels are certainly high on this perplexing list. It is also interesting to see how authors use themselves as part of the story, thus referring to the subject they know best: Themselves. In his latest work Bones, New York Times bestseller Jonathan Kellerman uses this technique to not only add depth and realism to his characters, but also to show the reader a little sliver of the man behind them.

Kellerman is a highly-trained and successful medical professional and holds a Ph.D. in psychology. He is also the author of numerous medical books in the field of child psychology. In addition, he is an avid guitar player and collector of vintage guitars, of which he wrote a book, and an accomplished painter and drawer. Wow! Talk about an overachiever. So why would a person who is quite successful in his career as a medical professional go ahead and start a new career in literature?

In a way he really isn’t. Kellerman writes a lot about what he already knows and fuses his knowledge into his books. Other authors have done the same, using their first career and putting what they know into a second one. Two of these authors come to mind: John Grisham, a lawyer who wrote many courtroom dramas, and Robin Cook, an anesthesiologist at the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary who wrote the best seller Coma.

Kellerman’s novels feature Alex Delaware, a child psychologist who is, as Kellerman describes him, “driven, curious and compulsive.” Alex is a striking parallel to the author himself, who also identifies with the same group of terms.

Kellerman has written twenty-three novels and his most recent is an intelligent suspense story called Bones. The story is about a character named Chance Brandt who, as the story opens, is doing community service in an area of California called Bird Marsh Nature Conservatory. During this time, Chance receives a mysterious phone call that says that there are bodies buried in the marshes. He thinks it’s a hoax but reports it to the authorities anyway. The man who leads the investigation is Milo Sturgis, the main character who takes psychologist Alex Delaware (Jonathan Kellerman’s alter-ego) to help him find the bodies, which they eventually do. On all of the four bodies the right hand was removed. It seems at first that the murderer had a focused motive as the victims were all prostitutes, but the fourth body that was found belonged to musician and piano teacher Selena Bass who had nothing in common with the other victims.

The novel takes the reader through a couple of turns, while introducing us to the numerous characters that may or may not be involved with the murder. Eventually the truth is found and due punishment is served forth.

It seems that Kellerman is attracted to this kind of fiction and it suits him well. When one asks him why he writes crime fiction he says, “all good fiction involves an element of mystery….Crime novels use extreme events-matters of life and death-to catalyze the story. That kind of intensity appeals to me. Trying to squeeze profundity out of banal events doesn’t. I’m interested in whydunits as well as whodunits.”

Kellerman’s fans are sure to be pleased with his latest work. I know that I, someone who wasn’t really familiar with his work, sure am.

Bones by Jonathan Kellerman can be purchased at any major book retailer.