Monday, August 24, 2020

SERIES REVIEW - Clay Edison series, Books 1-3

In this combined review, I will be reviewing the first three books of the Clay Edison series by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman. Last year I read the second book, but since I hope to follow this series going forward, I went back and read the first book. For the sake of continuity, the review of the second book, A Measure of Darkness. is also included in this blog post.

Title:  Crime Scene
Publisher:   Ballantine Books
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:   Kindle
No. of pages:   408
Date of Publication:  August 1, 2017
Rating:  4 Stars


Natural causes or foul play? That's the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren't part of his beat--not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert's life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man--and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert's died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father's killer--even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.

The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It's his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he's part of a story that makes his blood run cold.


Father-and-son Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman collaborate in a new series with deputy Clay Edison, recently assigned as a death investigator in Alameda County, California. His job is to ascertain the manner of death in the cases that he works on. One of the first things Clay does when examining a body is to determine whether or not the cause of death was natural or foul play. However, in this particular case, the death of reclusive Walter Rennert, the man's daughter feels certain that her father has been murdered, and she begs Clay to find out what really happened.

The more Clay digs, the more he realizes that there is a long history of scandal, violence and so much more. Then Clay recognizes a similar manner of death involving Walter Rennert's former colleague. This definitely increases Clay's curiosity, so he begins to unearth as many facts as possible, to the point of even considering his own judgment in the case at hand.

The fact that Clay was intimately involved with Rennert's daughter, Tatiana, challenges his professional interest in a case that does not even fit his job description. Will Clay be able to get to the bottom of things? Meanwhile, as this is the first book in the series, we learn what makes Clay tick and how his choices affect his job and his future. 

This book was not a review title, but I am glad that I read this, as I now feel that I have gotten to know Clay and am more than eager to stay with this series as it continues to grow. The next two books in the series are A Measure of Darkness and Half Moon Bay, both which were excellent reads.

- - - - -

Title:  A Measure of Darkness
Author:   Jonathan Kellerman, Jesse Kellerman
Series:   Clay Edison #2
Publisher:   Ballantine Books
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:   Kindle ARC
No. of pages: 352
Date of Publication:  July 31, 2018
Rating:  3.5 Stars


It's been a busy year for Alameda County Coroner's Deputy Clay Edison. He's solved a decades-old crime and redeemed an innocent man--earning himself a suspension in the process. Things are getting serious with his girlfriend. And his brother's fresh out of prison, bringing with him a great big basket of crazy.

Then the call comes in the middle of the night. It's a bad one. A party in West Oakland. An argument with the neighbors. A crowd in the street. Two guns, firing at random, spreading chaos and death. Nobody knows the body count yet. What Clay does know is this: it's going to be a long, long night. Longer than he ever could have imagined.

Because when the dust settles, there's an extra victim. One who can't be accounted for. A young woman, strangled instead of shot, without ID and a stranger to all. She is Jane Doe. She is the Unknown. Clay's journey to give her a name and bring her justice will lead him into the bizarre--a seductive world where innocence and perversity meet and mingle; where right and wrong begin to blur.


***Originally posted December 2019***

Clay Edison, Deputy Sheriff for the Alameda County Coroner's office, has just had a banner year. He solved a decades-old crime and redeemed an innocent man. However, his job was put in jeopardy as he went beyond the bounds of his duties. Things are falling into line again for Clay, and as this novel begins, he receives a call in the middle of the night. Shots were fired at a party and innocent people were killed. After all of the identifications are made, there is one woman who cannot be accounted for, and she was strangled, not shot. She is a Jane Doe, and Clay is determined to identify her.

Something curious - and I double-checked - I got to 46% before I fully understood Clay Edison's job. The blurb states that he is a deputy coroner, but his keen investigations had me curious. If he were indeed the coroner, would he have had the leeway to investigate as he did? Please pardon my ignorance. Although I generally strive to read series for that ideal sense of continuity, I did not have the opportunity to read the first in the series, Crime Scene, and so I wonder if indeed A Measure of Darkness served well as a standalone.

Due to a rather stilted delivery, the patently obvious fact that the majority of the writing was done by the younger Kellerman, and a surprising lack of the suspense that I imagined would be in this story, I had a bit of difficulty staying engaged. However, as this is a joint venture between father-and-son writers, and this is indeed my favorite genre, I will be reading the next in this series. I hope that when I do that I will have enough of a connection with Clay Edison to better enjoy the story, as I actually do like Clay's character. By the way, Child psychologist Alex Delaware, from Jonathan Kellerman's NYT bestselling series, has a cameo in this book.

Many thanks to Random House/Ballantine Books and to NetGalley for this ARC to review in exchange for my honest opinion.

- - - - -

Title:  Half Moon Bay
Author:   Jonathan Kellerman, Jesse Kellerman
Series:   Clay Edison #3
Publisher:   Ballantine Books
Genre:   Mystery/Thrillers
Format:   Kindle ARC
No. of pages: 368
Date of Publication:  July 21, 2020
Rating:  4 Stars


Deputy coroner Clay Edison discovers that buried secrets can be deadly in this riveting thriller from a father-son team of bestselling authors who write "brilliant, page-turning fiction" (Stephen King).

On a damp Saturday, just last year, the Sixties finally died in Berkeley. On Sunday, I came for the bones.

Deputy Coroner Clay Edison has his hands full. He's got a new baby who won't sleep. He's working the graveyard shift. And he's trying, for once, to mind his own business. Then comes the call. Workers demolishing a local park have made a haunting discovery: the decades-old skeleton of a child. But whose? And how did it get there? No sooner has Clay begun to investigate than he receives a second call--this one from a local businessman, wondering if the body could belong to his sister. She went missing fifty years ago, the man says. Or at least I think she did. Clay doesn't understand. What's that mean, you "think" she disappeared? It's a little complicated. That it is. And things only get stranger from there. Clay's relentless search for answers will unearth a history of violence and secrets, revolution and betrayal. Because in this town, the past isn't dead. It isn't even past. It's very much alive. And it can kill. 


Clay Edison has proved that he is willing to past his regular job duties as a Deputy Coroner, often digging deep into the cases he has been assigned. He is burning the candle at both ends as he is now a father and his new baby is hardly letting him get enough sleep. The last thing Clay needs about now is to investigate another murder. However, that is exactly what he ends up doing.

When the skeleton of a child is unearthed by workers while demolishing a park, Clay just has to start looking nto things. At the same time, however, an unsettling phone call truly concerns Clay. His sister had gone missing five decades ago, and the skeleton just might be hers. So, this case definitely has a personal edge as far as he is concerned. 

As things turn out, not only is the skeleton unearthed, but years of violence, secrets and betrayal as well. Clay's past has become his present.

I found this book to be much more intense than the first two books in the series, Crime Scene and A Measure of Darkness. After all, Clay's past gave this book an extra level of intensity, especially when it touched on serious and delicate issues. For him to work with the case before him, and whatever could have happened to his sister, all the while balancing family life, most definitely kept me riveted to this book. My only issue is that I now need to wait at least a year for the next book in the series.

Many thanks to Random House/Ballantine Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.


Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician. As a senior, at the age of 22, he won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction.

Like his fictional protagonist, Alex Delaware, Jonathan received at Ph.D. in psychology at the age of 24, with a specialty in the treatment of children. He served internships in clinical psychology and pediatric psychology at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles and was a post-doctoral HEW Fellow in Psychology and Human Development at CHLA.

IN 1975, Jonathan was asked by the hospital to conduct research into the psychological effects of extreme isolation (plastic bubble units) on children with cancer, and to coordinate care for these kids and their families. The success of that venture led to the establishment, in 1977 of the Psychosocial Program, Division of Oncology, the first comprehensive approach to the emotional aspects of pediatric cancer anywhere in the world. Jonathan was asked to be founding director and, along with his team, published extensively in the area of behavioral medicine. Decades later, the program, under the tutelage of one of Jonathan's former students, continues to break ground.

Jonathan's first published book was a medical text, PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF CHILDHOOD CANCER, 1980. One year later, came a book for parents, HELPING THE FEARFUL CHILD.

In 1985, Jonathan's first novel, WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, was published to enormous critical and commercial success and became a New York Times bestseller. BOUGH was also produced as a t.v. movie and won the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher Awards for Best First Novel. Since then, Jonathan has published a best-selling crime novel every year, and occasionally, two a year. In addition, he has written and illustrated two books for children and a nonfiction volume on childhood violence, SAVAGE SPAWN (1999.) Though no longer active as a psychotherapist, he is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

Jonathan is married to bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman and they have four children.

I'm a writer. I've published five solo novels; five novels in collaboration with my father, Jonathan Kellerman; a bunch of plays; and a handful of essays.

No comments:

Post a Comment