cover image A Measure of Darkness

A Measure of Darkness

Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman. Ballantine, $28.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-399-59463-2

In bestseller Kellerman and son Jesse’s plodding sequel to 2017’s Crime Scene, Oakland, Calif., coroner’s deputy Clay Edison responds to a multiple shooting, apparently sparked by a dispute about noise from a large party. The victims include a six-year-old boy, who was struck by a stray bullet while sleeping in his bed, and a female pedestrian, seemingly accidentally dragged to her death by a car. Edison diligently reviews the evidence and interviews witnesses as he tries to reconstruct what led to the gunfire and the vehicular homicide, but the complexity of the case confuses more than it intrigues. The plot, unlike in the senior Kellerman’s best Alex Delaware books, never gathers much steam, and the characterizations, including Clay’s relationship with his troubled brother, fall short of the standard set in Edgar-finalist Jesse’s better work. Staccato prose doesn’t help (“A bicycle, I’d lose him. I walked faster. The phone shook”). Few readers will welcome a third outing from Clay. [em]Agent: Barney Karpfinger, Karpfinger Agency. (July) [/em]