Picks and Pans Review: A Cold Heart

updated 06/09/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/09/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Jonathan Kellerman

A psycho is targeting up-and-coming artists and rockers in this classic whodunit sprinkled with hard-boiled lines and more twists than a plate of fusilli. Kellerman has an unusual knack for making his heroes and their personal lives as detailed and engaging as the crime solving. The case hits close to home for psychologist Alex Delaware, whose ex-lover Robin had repaired instruments for two of the slain performers. ("She's got great range," says Robin, describing one punk-rock singer. "From nails on chalkboard to nails on chalkboard even harder.") In his 17th Alex Delaware mystery, Kellerman introduces Eric Stahl, a spookily intense Army veteran with a Spartan mien and a sixth sense for spotting stolen cars. Watch your back, Alex: Stahl is so compelling, he may warrant his own series. (Ballantine, $26.95)

BOTTOM LINE: Artfully done

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