First generation: Jonathan Kellerman’s series featuring Los Angeles psychologist Alex Delaware began with the Edgar and Anthony Award–winning When the Bough Breaks (Atheneum, 1985). The 30th entry, Breakdown (Ballantine), is due in February 2016.
A year after Jonathan’s first book, his wife, Faye Kellerman, launched her own series, with The Ritual Bath (Arbor House), starring police detective Peter Decker and his wife, Rina Lazarus; it won the 1987 Macavity Award for Best First Mystery. The 23rd entry in the Decker/Lazarus novels, The Theory of Death (Morrow), was published in October.
Second generation: Jesse Kellerman began a succession of standalone thrillers with Sunstroke (Putnam, 2006). His most recent, Potboiler (Putnam, 2012), was an Edgar finalist for Best Novel. Aliza Kellerman writes about wine for an online magazine and has coauthored a YA thriller; Rachel Kellerman Kessler and Ilana Kellerman Moss have followed their father into his first career, psychology.
Collaboration: Jonathan teamed up with Faye on Double Homicide (Warner, 2004) and Capital Crimes (Ballantine, 2006), and with Jesse on 2014’s The Golem of Hollywood and the recently published The Golem of Paris, both Putnam. Faye and Aliza coauthored Prism (Harper, 2009), a YA thriller set in an alternate universe. The Garden of Eden and Other Criminal Delights, a 2006 collection, includes one short story written with Jesse and another with Rachel and Ilana.
“Every family speaks its own language,” Jesse Kellerman says. “For us it was stories.” As with other second-generation writers, Jesse and Aliza were making up stories at an early age, according to their parents, though Jesse, as a mystery author, has followed Jonathan and Faye’s career path more closely.
“I told my dad once that writing with him sort of reminds me of when I was a kid, and he and I would build and launch model rockets together,” Jesse says. “Writing is most often a solitary pursuit, and it’s extremely rare that you get to walk that road with a companion.”
Jonathan’s, Faye’s, and Jesse’s fictional styles are distinct from one another. Jonathan’s series stars a buddy duo, psychologist Alex Delaware and LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis. Faye’s Decker/Lazarus books follow a husband-wife team in heavily family-oriented mysteries. And their son writes fast-paced thrillers that are more about suspense than detection.
“I write what comes naturally,” Jesse says. “And as it so happens, my voice doesn’t sound like either of theirs. In fact, the one time I made a conscious effort to direct my voice was when my dad and I collaborated on The Golem of Hollywood. Then, I was trying as hard as I could to channel him. But the further along I got in that book, the more I tended to revert to my own style.”