Keller­mans’ L.A. cop tale a genre-bend­ing romp

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - BOOKS - Re­viewed by Nick Martin

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

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