Friday, July 15, 2016

FFB Review: "THE WEB" (1996) by Jonathan Kellerman (Reviewed by Barry Ergang)

Barry is back today for FFB with an all new review for FFB hosted by Patti Abbott. Make sure you check out the list after you read Barry’s review of The Web by Jonathan Kellerman.

THE WEB (1996) by Jonathan Kellerman

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

Aruk in Micronesia, location of a U.S. Naval base blockaded from the rest of the island that’s also known to some as Knife Island because of its shape, has been for many years the home, site of medical practice and research to Woodrow Wilson Moreland, a.k.a. “Dr. Bill” to the locals. Having come upon an article in a
professional journal written by psychologist Alex Delaware, and then seeking and reading additional such articles by him, Moreland writes to Delaware with a proposition: help him organize three decades worth of the research he’s done on natural history and nutrition, with the possibility of collaboration on a book, journal articles, or a monograph—depending on what the physician’s research lends itself to. “I’m prepared to offer compensation of six thousand dollars per month for four months,” Moreland writes, “in addition to business-class transportation from the mainland and full room and board. There are no hotels on Aruk, but my own home is quite commodious and I’m sure you would find it pleasant.” He further offers to accommodate Delaware’s wife, if he’s married, though he has no paid work to offer her.

Delaware isn’t married, but he is involved with Robin Castagna, and the two decide to take Moreland up on his offer. After all, who doesn’t fantasize about fleeing from the daily grind to a desert island paradise?

Paradise, as anyone reading a mystery/suspense novel can guess, winds up being paid for at an exorbitant price. Moreland, although an amiable host, turns out to be a man of many secrets and possessed of a somewhat enigmatic personality. Then, too, so do several of the other major characters, not all of them being who or what they seem to be whom Delaware and Robin meet in the course of their adventure, which
involves, among other things, a death by plane crash and the particularly grisly deaths of two young island women, one six months earlier, the other during Delaware and Robin’s visit.  

It doesn’t seem to be necessary to read previous novels in the Alex Delaware series; I found this one easily accessible even though I haven’t. The writing quality was generally quite good in spite of the author’s fondness for “dramatic” sequences consisting of single-sentence paragraphs, and character delineation was adequate. At 416 pages in the mass-market paperback edition I read, I thought it tried a little too hard to pile on surprising revelations, was more than a little padded in places, and that the story would have been just as effective, if not more so, at a shorter length. Were I rating it at Amazon or another major book-rating site, I’d give it three out of five stars and wouldn’t go out of my way to read another title in the series.

I would also warn readers squeamish about raw street language that the novel contains some, including some f-bombs, but doesn’t teem with it.

© 2016 Barry Ergang

Some of Derringer Award-winner Barry Ergang’s work can be found at Amazon and Smashwords. At the latter site, he’s participating in the July Summer/Winter Sale, where you can find his e-books at 25% off, as well as three (always) for free.


Yvette said...

I liked this a lot more than you did, Barry. In fact, it's one of the few Kellerman books I've actually re-read. What did I like about it? Well, the isolated setting. The odd plot and the even odder characters inhabiting the island. This is as close to science fiction as Kellerman has come if I'm remembering correctly, although there is one other book in which huge creepy poisonous plants have a turn - but can't remember the title.

Was a fan of Kellerman for many books but finally I just couldn't take that guitar designer girlfriend anymore (Robin) and had to stop reading or get an ulcer. Not worth it.

The early books in the series are the best and there are several which are rather good if you can tolerate the girlfriend. I guess the solution is to read the books in which she has little to do or is gone (good riddance) because she's broken up with Alex Delaware yet again. Unfortunately, she keeps coming back.

Barry Ergang said...

Maybe one of these days I'll try an earlier one, Yvette--but not before I get to hundreds of other books by other authors that I've accumulated in both physical and electronic editions, assuming I live long enough. I had no problem with Robin; it was the length of this one, along with some of the other factors I noted, that had me feeling it was just a so-so novel that would've been better if briefer.