27 December 2010

The butcher's theatre

Butchers TheatreButchers Theatre by Jonathan Kellerman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read a few other crime novels by Jonathan Kellerman and found the palled after reading three of them -- they also seemed to be similar, and got more and more predictable. So I was a bit reluctant to start this one, because it seemed inordinately long, but I wanted some light bedtime reading and it was available, and so I started it, and found it refreshingly different from most of Kellerman's other novels. It has a different setting and different characters.

The story is set in Jerusalem in the 1980s, where a serial killer seems to be at work, though it is not the kind of case that Israeli police are normally called upon to handle, and the protagonist, Chief Inspector Daniel Sharavi, is luckily able to enlist the help of a visiting American policeman friend, who has more experience of such cases. The investigation is hampered by the religious, ethnic and political tensions in the city, which are sometimes reflected in the investigating team itself.

In part the great length of the book is because there are no easy solutions to the case, and it requires lots of plodding and patient police work to get to the bottom of things. We are introduced to the perpetrator and his thought quite early on in the book, and the development of his motivation and psychological state, though he is never a suspect, and his identity is only revealed by accident, towards the end.

So I think this is one of Kellerman's better books, and though it does seem to have some plot flaws, it was still and enjoyable read.

One of the oddities of the book is the strange mixture of US English and other Englishes. The title does not use the American spelling of "theater", but there are American spellings like "meager" sprinkled throughout the book. But there is also the use of "holidays" where one would expect, in a book written by an American, the American term "vacation". Or is American English becoming more international?

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James Higham said...

One of the oddities of the book is the strange mixture of US English and other Englishes.

He's either lived around the world or else he is using multiple sources, unattributed.

Clarissa said...

Early books by Jonathan Kellerman were quite good but then they got too formulaic. For some reason, this writer seems to be convinced that he absolutely needs to release 3 books per year. So of course quality suffers.


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