One of the most chilling books I’ve ever read was Jonathan Kellerman’s short but shocking Savage Spawn, about children who display early signs of psychopathy, and based on his professional experience as a child psychologist. For the last 35 years, Kellerman has been delivering similar, though fictional, chills to readers through dozens of mysteries, including his best-selling Alex Delaware series.
Writing is a family business for the Kellermans, as you’ll see below, and Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman have most recently teamed up to write Half Moon Bay, in which deputy coroner Clay Edison uncovers a decades-old mystery that could have consequences in present day.
We asked Jonathan Kellerman to recommend four summer reads, and this is what he said.
The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell
The late Baroness Rendell wasn’t only the author of numerous superb crime novels, she was one of the greatest writers, period, of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. This is her last book, and in typical Rendell fashion, it weaves in and out of dark alleys and takes you to some astonishing places. Well worth the time spent.
The Sherlock Holmes Mysteries by Arthur Conan Doyle
Anything by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle featuring Sherlock Holmes. Many people have enjoyed the adventures of Holmes and Watson in films and on the small screen. My guess would be that far fewer have actually read the stories from which they’re taken. Sherlock and Dr. John aren’t cozy, tweedy, oddball caricatures. They’re tough guys—resolute, brilliant and action-oriented. And if you’ve got lots of reading time on your hands, we’re talking LOTS of stories.
The Genius by Jesse Kellerman
Yes, he’s my son and, now, my writing partner. But this novel, penned by Jess well before we decided to collaborate, was a prize-winning international best seller and for good reason. Page-turning, suspenseful, beautifully written, deeply insightful, and rich in its portrayal of art world corruption and a long-forgotten, bizarre and particularly tormented artist. You will not be disappointed. And as long as I’m going to be accused of nepotism, check out the novels of my brilliant wife, Faye Kellerman. Her most recent, Walking Shadows, explores the ramifications of a decades-old murder and is, like all of Faye’s books, elegantly spare and spot-on when it comes to exploring the human condition.
The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever
Any collection of John Cheever’s short stories. I’m not a big fan of much of what passes itself off as literary fiction, finding it to be insipid, self-indulgent, plotless, and pointless. However, Cheever could write about everyday life and make it fascinating. His psychological insights are deft, never heavy-handed, and sometimes, as in his story “The Enormous Radio,” he veers into some really strange territory.
The author of the best-selling Alex Delaware mysteries shares his recommendations for the perfect summer read.