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by Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine Books, March 2007
368 pages
ISBN: 0345452631

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When she was a young child, Tanya Bigelow's mother left her on the doorstep of her sister, Tanya's aunt Patty, who later adopted her. Patty was a nurse who suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and over the years Tanya also showed signs of the problem. Patty worked with a doctor, whose lover is LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, a good friend of well-known child psychologist, Dr. Alex Delaware. Though she refused help for herself, Patty sent Tanya to Alex for help with her OCD problem.

Though still very quiet and somber, very soon Tanya seemed cured from all OCD symptoms. Then more than a decade later Alex receives a phone call from Tanya asking for an appointment. It seems that her aunt Patty just died from cancer, but before she passed away Patty tried to get all her ducks in a row and set Tanya's life up to be stable and safe. But as she was suffering at the end, she confessed to Tanya that she did "something terrible" but wouldn't say what it was. All she would say was that Tanya must go to Dr Alex and, through him, get his friend LAPD Milo Sturgis involved. Patty had worked in the ER with Milo's lover, a doctor, and knew that Milo was a great detective.

Though there are no exact clues and no evidence that Patty really did anything wrong, Alex sees that Tanya is again beginning to suffer from OCD symptoms. Because he feels obligated to Tanya as an old patient who needs him, Alex decides to investigate to discover what Patty could have been guilty of doing. He asks Milo (who luckily just happens to be on vacation from the job) to lend a hand.

Both men soon find out that Patty seemed to be a very good person, but one who had lived a very strange and strained life. Even though she made a good living as a nurse, it wasn't a high salaried job, but Patty somehow managed to accrue a lot of money she put into bank accounts for Tanya. She also moved them around from a bad neighborhood to a fancy house, but then back to a very bad neighborhood. Milo and Alex start to think that drugs might have been involved, but there is absolutely nothing to prove it. So they began to interview everyone from Patty's past.

And then one of the men they interview is murdered. Alarm bells ring for both Alex and Milo. Now they are beginning to see that Patty must have been involved in something big if people are being killed after a small interview. They both become even more determined to find out what Patty was warning Tanya about. They even bring in more cops to keep the girl safe as they work to discover the secret.

I am a fan of Jonathan Kellerman and have read most of his books and enjoyed them, but I can't say that I liked OBSESSION. If you like police procedurals this book will grab and keep your attention because it painstakingly takes the readers through the way an investigation would progress when there are few useable clues at the start. This is a fine police procedural.

The main problem with the book is that I just didn't care about Patty or Tanya, and so I didn't feel as if I had any emotional ties that made me interested in finding out what happened. Other than prolonging the book, I still can't understand why Patty didn't just leave the whole story written down for the cops once she saw that Tanya's life might be in danger. That should have made more sense in that Tanya could have been kept safe more easily.

I can understand Alex helping an old patient, but I also don't quite understand why he made such an all-out effort to discover Patty's secret when there was so little evidence that she did anything wrong. As a reader, I didn't have any emotional investment in Tanya. She seemed too unemotional about her own safety and so I also didn't care about it.

The investigation is everything in OBSESSION. Read it for a good investigation, but if you need to actually care about the outcome, continuing to this end of this book will not be an obsession.

Reviewed by A. L. Katz, March 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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