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Bookends: A Mystery both Mundane and Magical January 19, 2017

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends, mystery, Whitehorse Star.
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Bookends: A Mystery both Mundane and Magical

By Dan Davidson

golem-of-hollywoodJuly 6, 2016

– 929 words –

 


The Golem of Hollywood

By Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

Jove Books

629 pages

$9.99

 

The story starts about a year before we meet its central characters, with a man who thinks of himself as Heap, who also thinks that he is going to be able to assault and murder the young woman he is stalking in Prague. It’s his last such attempt, and he is never able to fully comprehend why, and how he cold possibly have been apprehended and killed by something that seemed to be a wall of mud.

Moving on, we meet Detective Jacob Lev, who is not having a good life in Los Angeles. He’s not proving to be a really great police officer, and he knows it. He has a drinking problem. He is not a dutiful son. He has relationship issues. When we meet him he is waking up, suffering from a blackout and looking at an incredibly beautiful woman. Her name is Mai, and he would really like to know how they ended up in his apartment, what they did when they got there and whether he can ever arrange to see her again. She vanishes while he is taking a shower, leaving him somewhat depressed.

The next day, he is transferred from a stultifying job in the traffic division to a mysterious new job that has him working out of his apartment and seemingly assigned to just one case. A bodiless head has been found in an isolated home in the hills around the city. There seem to be no clues, other than the head itself and some Hebrew letters apparently etched into a kitchen shelf. The letters spell the word for justice. That gets even more mysterious when the letters disappear on a later inspection of the crime scene.

Even stranger, the head turns out to that of a notorious serial killer known to the authorities as the Creeper. They don’t know his real name, but a DNA profile matches him to one of the few murders where the man left any forensic evidence behind. This slender clue sets Jacob trolling through the man’s known crimes, identified by his modus operandi, and by an intuitive leap – postulating perhaps the killer did not restrict himself to Los Angeles – uncovering a relatively unbroken series of murders that stretches across the USA, and to the Czech Republic and finally to the United Kingdom.

Before we get to that point, however, we take an excursion into the past, to a place not far fro the Garden of Eden, where we meet the family of Adam and Eve, complete with Cain and Abel and their sisters, who have, by default, also become their wives. The odd girl out is Asham, and we will be spending a lot of time with her, moving with her through space and time, until, following the revenge she takes for the world’s first primal murder, she is conscripted to the role of protector and avenger of the Jewish people.

With that much said, you can see that this book is something of a hybrid, part police procedural, part mystical saga. Jacob’s hunt for the identity of the killer leads him round the edges of the larger mystery related to the vengeance that has been exacted on the man. Much later in the story, he becomes aware of another leftover head that resulted from the events we saw during the first 13 pages of the book, and comes to realize that the crimes he has been tracking may have been committed by more than one person, that it may be a case of teamwork, even of a mentor and a series of apprentices.

Even that realization, however, does nothing to explain who is tracking down and punishing these killers. Nothing he learns during a chase that takes him to Europe and the UK prepares him for what happens when he does track down the remaining killer and faces both him and his latest follower. That final confrontation is not something he is ever able to tell anyone else about.

But there are some people who do know what is going on, and it appears that they are the people (or perhaps not quite people) who put him in a position to follow up this case because of his Jewish heritage and his family lineage.

The golem of this story is quite a bit different from other versions I have read about. An artificial being made of clay, it is empowered and governed by certain Hebrew symbols and, in this case, enabled by the enslaved spirit of Adam’s third daughter. What is obvious from its first appearances in the present day, is that she/it has gone rogue, and is carrying out its mission autonomously. It may be that part of the reason Jacob was seconded to this case was that his connection to the creature’s past roots might enable his new superiors to capture it and bring it back into line. This issue is left unresolved as far as this book is concerned, but it seems that this father and son team of authors have a series in mind. I’m looking forward to reading The Golem of Paris when it comes out in paperback.

Jonathan Kellerman is best known for the 29 Alex Delaware mysteries. He has also co-authored books with his wife, Faye. Jesse has five previous mysteries to his credit. Nothing in either of their bibliographies hints at the sort of thing they’ve come up with working as a team.

 

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