Years ago I read many of Jonathan Kellerman’s series of Alex Delaware books; I am rather a one for reading series, but I think I ran out of interest, or maybe the library didn’t have the next book, but for whatever reason I stopped reading them. Recently I joined a Facebook book club page and someone mentioned Kellerman, his wife Faye and their son Jesse (I confess I thought Jesse was a daughter!) I was reminded of reading Kellerman’s books and as the someone recommended Faye, I thought I would read one of hers instead. I like to start a series at the beginning, and so I bought ‘The Ritual Bath’; it’s a crime novel, and the particular crime is a murder in a mikvah, a ritual bath for Jewish people. The person who recommended it said it was an interesting insight into the Jewish religion and as my ancestors were Jewish it appealed to me.
I was all set to really enjoy it and I guess I did, I read right through to the end and did learn a lot about Orthodox Judaism; however, the characters didn’t seem real to me, and if you can’t engage with the people in the story it’s hard to care about what happens to them. The novel was published in 1986 so was written nearly forty years ago – no mobile phones and computer technology was in its infancy. Police techniques and forensics were similarly less advanced, however, it wasn’t that which distanced me from the book. Maybe it’s because many crime novels featuring the police have in depth and authentic detail of how a case is worked, and I’m afraid this one just didn’t. Since one of the main characters was a police officer that really had a negative impact – for me at least. It was as if not much research had taken place – and yet I am sure it had because of the sort of writer I believe Faye Kellerman is. For example a woman was murdered within the space of half an hour and the injuries inflicted, including an amputation couldn’t have happened in such a short space of time with the weapon described. There were other instances as well – if a reader doesn’t ‘believe’ in the story, however preposterous, then they are lost.
Maybe it’s because it was her first book maybe it’s because the romance between the characters seemed to dominate the story, maybe because the action wasn’t intense enough, or the characters interesting enough, or the story-line believable (within the bounds of it being fiction!) but I finished it feeling rather apathetic. The baddy was arrested, the beautiful female was saved, the handsome hero had a new life-changing chance, the ends were tidied up with the future of the romance secure – but to be honest, I wasn’t that bothered.