Kellermans’ L.A. cop tale a genre-bending romp
JACOB Lev is your typical hard-boiled fictional Los Angeles cop — he drinks too much, he messes up relationships, he ticks off his superiors, and his career is definitely going down the toilet. You can picture him drinking at a sleazy bar a table over from the cops and lawyers created by author Michael Connelly. Then Lev gets assigned, by a supersecret unit of which he’s never heard, to investigate a decapitated head found in a dilapidated Hollywood mansion, and he’s off down the rabbit hole. While grounded in a solid murder mystery about decades of vicious murders that may all be the work of the same killer, The Golem of Hollywood, to overuse a trite expression, is multi-layered indeed. There’s something not quite right about the people in Lev’s new unit — they seem to be everywhere, and they seem to have been around for a very long time. Maybe even as far back as 1580, when a rabbi in Prague created a creature out of clay to protect the Jewish people in his ghetto. There’s a mysterious woman who — against the grain of what the Kellerman father-and-son authors tell us about Lev’s apparently unappealing character — takes a shine to Lev and then suddenly and mysteriously keeps vanishing without a trace. There are enormous bugs that have a nasty habit of showing up whenever Lev starts getting romantic with anyone other than his mystery woman. And then there are Cain and Abel, and their sister Asham — you may have previously read more about the brothers than about their sister. Every few chapters, the Kellermans suddenly flash back to what purports to be the continuing story of Adam and Eve’s offspring after they wandered out into the world of other people, and how that eventually led to... well, we don’t want any spoilers, do we? Like any normal messed-up anti-hero, Lev has a dead troubled mother and a neglected father, dad being a simple man who seems to know a whole lot more about what’s happening than you’d expect. The Golem of Hollywood can’t be pigeonholed as a police procedural, a thriller, a supernatural spookfest, or an historical epic — it’s all of those, and more. It’s a gripping read, mesmerizing at times, though occasionally the jumps back in forth in time are jarring to the narrative. It would help to be Jewish to understand everything that’s happening, or to be able to read Hebrew to follow some of the Kellermans’ clues, or to be a religious scholar specializing in the Old Testament. The lay reader will also likely buy more easily into the plot if you accept that the the Old Testament is accurate and everything in it really happened. The Golem of Hollywood takes a long time to pull all its disparate parts together, and no way does it answer all the reader’s questions and tie everything up with a neat little bow at the end. But it’s a great read that will enthrall every page of the way. Unlike British mysteries, this book didn’t make Free Press education reporter Nick
Martin want to jump a plane to L.A.
The Golem of Hollywood