“The Museum of Desire” opens as a maintenance worker trudges uphill to clean up after a fancy event at a notorious LA party house. He finds something he will not be able to clean up, something utterly horrible. What follows is not the story of the crime but a story of the victims and the search for justice for them.
Dr. Alexander Delaware is a consultant who assists with difficult cases when needed. This case is not only difficult, but also downright strange. The victims are posed, almost like a museum diorama; nothing about this crime makes sense. Delaware feels the key to understanding a crime is to learn about the victims. In a first person narrative, he takes readers through the process of finding out about the victims so he can find out who killed them. He reports everything he sees and hears, what he says, and what others say to him. The victims are a diverse group, and Delaware investigates each in detail, documenting ancillary information that may be important later.
Kellerman’s detailed descriptions awaken all senses: the sights, colors, sounds, and smells of people and places. Readers experience the setting through exacting images of pretty streets lined with immaculate houses and precise emerald lawns. Little specifics complete each passage for readers: what people are wearing, how furniture is arranged, what photos are displayed.
Delaware’s investigation is slow, deliberate, and detailed, with everyday activities interspersed throughout the narrative. Delaware makes connections and establishes timelines. Things change when more bodies show up; the intensity increases. When the meaning of the book’s title is revealed, things take an astonishing turn.
“The Museum of Desire” is filled with twists and shocking turns. Even when things seem to be wrapped up, there is more. I received a review copy of “The Museum of Desire” from Jonathan Kellerman, Random House Publishing Group, and Ballantine Books. The writing superb; the plot is unique and weird. The book is gripping and compelling to read.