Picks and Pans Review: Silent Partner

updated 11/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/20/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Jonathan Kellerman

Alex Delaware's graduate-school girlfriend, Sharon Ransom, was always a bit of a loon. Sexy, but mechanical. Intelligent, but evasive. Driven by odd cravings and frenetic mood swings, she almost seemed like a woman split in...oops! Good thing Delaware, Jonathan Kellerman's detective hero, is a shrink. Too bad he didn't catch on sooner.

Fans of the evil-twin school of screen-writing will find a lively literary equivalent here. When Dr. Delaware's ex-love turns up dead—curiously, a day after their chance meeting—he guiltily decides to investigate. Tracking Sharon's sad progress, he uncovers both her twisted pathology and a bizarre history that links her to such diverse and unsavory types as an unscrupulous academic, a vintage porno star, a savage police chief and a self-obsessed billionaire. In between, Delaware's long-suffering sidekick, the gay detective Milo Sturgis, makes a cursory (and quite unsatisfactory) appearance, and Alex himself mopes around the house, trying to convince his recently departed lover, Robin, to return.

The imaginative writing and plotting that characterized Kellerman's previous mysteries (Blood Test, When the Bough Breaks) are certainly in evidence here. But in creating Sharon, the author—a Los Angeles clinical psychologist—has gone a bit too far down the Freudian freeway. Delaware, normally a levelheaded chap, often dissolves into psychobabble trying to explain her, and the book's denouement strains both credibility and common sense. (Bantam, $18.95)

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