Unnatural History by Jonathan Kellerman – review

Published by Century

Publication date – 16 February 2023

Source – review copy

When a photographer is found inside an LA warehouse slumped in bed, shot to death, it sets in motion a complex and dangerous case for Lieutenant Milo Sturgis and Psychologist Alex Delaware.

The victim had just received rave media attention for his latest project – images of homeless people living out their ‘dreams’. But there were many who saw the work as crass exploitation.

Did anger turn to homicidal rage? Or do the roots of violence reach down to the victim’s own family?

As new murders arise, Alex and Milo must peel back the layers of the case – and will find themselves coming up against in one of the deadliest threats they’ve ever faced…

Lieutenant Milo Sturgis calls in best friend, Physiologist Alex Delaware when a man is found shot dead in a warehouse in downtown LA. The victim was a photographer who had been taking images of homeless people living out their dream fantasy life. How did he come to be found in bed with three shots to his chest? As more murders take place Alex and Milo are in a race to find a cruel killer.

If you haven’t read this series yet, you are in for a treat. Start at the beginning with When the Bough Breaks. There aren’t spoilers for previous books but you do get to see the character development if you take the series in order.

This series don’t feature the regular who dun its. There are clues but they are discovered at the same time as the protagonists, so that the reader discovers who the murderer is as the same time as Alex and Milo. In Unnatural History there are a limited number of suspects for example but it is the motive, as it often is in Alex Delaware novels, that is the key. The stories look at the depravity of humans, the ability to damage each other and the world around them in infinite ways.

The victim in Unnatural History is Donny Klement, attractive and rich. But his home life wasn’t smooth sailing. As Alex and Milo look into his past they find a billionaire absentee father, a dead mother and half siblings who appear for all intents and purposes as only children, a conscious act by their detached and much married parent.

Whilst the reader can easily imagine Milo, Robin, Alex’s girlfriend and other characters in the novel, Alex Delaware himself is much more blurred and hard to pin down. He has a troubled childhood with a violent father, was taken in by an aunt and likes to play piano. There are no descriptions of his looks, how tall he is, how old, so that makes him perhaps different for each reader.

The story is engaging. There are characters who have fallen through the cracks, who had it not been for some unfortunate circumstance would have received help or had a different life. There are those with chips on their shoulder, those who will forever be affected by the violent death that has collided with their lives. There is the sense of the dirty, secret underbelly of life slowly coming to the surface.

There is something joyful about reading a new book in a much loved series, a sense of Christmas and birthday come early, a wish to dive straight in but to also savour a return visit to old friends. Much as the case here.

A fast paced mystery, a welcome return of a great detective duo and another great instalment. Now just comes the interminable wait for the next book.

You can buy a copy of the book here.

(This is an affiliate link. I may earn a small amount if you purchase from it. You can also buy Unnatural History from your local independent bookshop.)

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Always liked this series!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It’s one of my favourites!

      Liked by 1 person

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