A Book Spy Review: ‘A Measure of Darkness’ by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

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A Measure of darknessAlameda County Coroner Deputy Clay Edison is back for another go-around in the latest novel from the father-son writing duo of Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman. 

Fresh off the suspension he earned after the events of Crime Scene (2017), Clay Edison receives a call in the middle of the night about a house party gone wrong and is asked to head on down to the crime scene. When he arrives, he finds several dead bodies, though it’s unclear what, exactly, happened. 

According to witnesses, the party got rowdy, people started brawling and fighting, and then shots were fired. Someone sprayed bullets around, killing several people, including a young boy who was sleeping innocently in his bed. Of all the dead bodies, there is one quite unlike the others. On a separate part of the property, Clay finds a woman, but unlike the other victims, she wasn’t shot. She was strangled. With no ID on her, Clay makes the woman a Jane Doe, then proceeds to find out what happened to her. 

While he’s working to figure out just what went down at the party, which could have been gang-related, Clay deals with the sudden arrival of his brother, Luke, who was recently released from prison. Unfortunately, Luke doesn’t come by himself, instead showing up with his new fiancee. The two quickly prove to be nuts, and the brothers’ already complicated relationship is further tested when Luke tries convincing Clay to buy into one of his crazy slam-dunk ideas. The timing of it all couldn’t be worse for the deputy coroner, who sees his case take an unexpected turn when the Jane Doe he’s investigating is finally identified. As Clay begins wading through the woman’s past, he’s slammed with nonstop issues in the present as he follows the mounting clues down a path he never could have imagined.

Overall, the writing is solid, which readers would expect from any collaboration of this caliber. However, the Kellermans’ latest procedural does have some issues. For starters, there is no suspense anywhere to be found. The story is mostly linear, though a few minor twists are thrown in there, and the pacing is pretty slow. In addition to those things, Clay’s job is another question mark as readers will likely find themselves wondering why in the heck a deputy coroner is out playing equal parts detective and CSI investigator. Therein lies the bulk of the problem, and it’s surprising that neither author thought to include much of their main character’s backstory. 

Jonathan Kellerman already has one non-detective playing detective in Alex Delaware, so he has plenty of experience with such a premise. Even so, Clay is no Alex, and the lack of excitement and suspense in the plot is honestly surprising considering both Kellermans are usually top-notch at drumming up heart-thumping moments in their other books. 

Book Details

Author: Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman
Series: Clay Edison #2
Pages: 352 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 0399594639
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: July 31, 2018
Book Spy Rating: 6.0/10

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Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

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