March 10

Killer by Jonathan Kellerman

9780755374595In my last few reviews of his books, I have been commenting that Kellerman seemed to have lost his touch. The stories were predictable and the plots were all the same; even the characters were unsympathetic. Killer arrived like a breath of fresh air. Kellerman has returned to his roots, child psychology, to bring us this superb read.

We all know that Alex Delaware doesn’t make his living as a police consultant. He makes his money advising judges and courts about child custody. But we never hear about these stories. One case involves two sisters, the natural mother who is a real flower child from the 60s. Following a band, no visible means of support, but totally committed to caring for her baby. The other sister is a wealthy doctor, every possible advantage for the child, but little evidence that she has every loved anyone or anything. Delaware recommends that the baby stay with her mother, seemingly a no-brainer. But before long, Milo is warning him of a contract out on his life. We all know that Delaware gets himself into some sticky situations, but rarely is he the primary target.

Kellerman has come up with a fresh new plot and filled it with great characters. I know I wasn’t supposed to, but I really liked Efrem. How hard would life be for a tough teenager with juvenile diabetes? Also, Ree is just like many girls I knew in the 60s and 70s, she just had the ability to keep the innocence into adulthood.

I read this book in one sitting, less than 24 hours. I couldn’t put it down, and that is a welcome return to the Kellerman I know and love.

March 10

The Afghanistan Pup by Mark Wilson

the_afghanistan_pup_INTERNALS_2Everybody loves picture story books. We learned as little children that the story is much more than the words, and it is important to read the pictures as well. Mark Wilson is a local author who has created a book for all ages in this touching story of war, destruction, and hope.

A pup is born in a village in Afghanistan, but he is born into a life of hardship. Mum goes off to look for food, and never returns. He finds a young girl to love him, but her schoolhouse is bombed. Imagine – daring to teach girls. Rescued by an Australian soldier, he finds a new home, but then one day the soldier doesn’t return from patrol. So where is the hope? A school is rebuilt and a young girl returns to finish her education. Guess who is waiting for her.

This books is much more than this simple plot. Wilson’s impressionistic illustrations add a great deal to the story. Even his use of colour changes the mood as quickly as you can turn the page.

This is not a book for the very young. In fact, I suspect some primary schools will refuse to offer it shelf space because of the confronting nature of the story. But it is a story that needs to be told, for the sake of the soldiers overseas and for the people surviving in the war zone.