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Half Moon Bay

Review

Half Moon Bay

I have been waiting for HALF MOON BAY. It is always a special event when the Kellermans collaborate in any manner. That said, Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman’s Clay Edison series is a particular favorite of mine. Clay is a deputy coroner for Alameda County, California, which is known for being the locale of the University of Southern California at Berkeley. The university plays a pivotal role in this story, so much so that one might be forgiven for detecting the sharp phantom scent of a mood-altering substance while reading this, one of the finest mysteries of the year thus far.

Clay and his wife, Amy, are sympathetic characters, balancing their professions (Amy is a clinical psychologist with a busy practice) with parenting an infant and trying to put together enough money for a home larger than the backyard cottage they are renting. Clay has taken the night shift at the coroner’s office, which allows Amy to continue her practice during the day. When some controversial construction at the university unearths the bones of a very young child, Clay is pressed into service, a task that he feels especially obliged to take on, given the presence of his own daughter at home.

"You may come for the mysteries in HALF MOON BAY, but you certainly will stay for the conclusion, which is one of the more satisfying of any book that you will read during this or any year."

The discovery and resulting publicity bring a wealthy software developer named Peter Franchette to Clay’s office. Peter believes that the bones of the infant are those of a sister whom he never knew. Clay attempts to identify them at the office --- a mission that takes him into some deep and unusual thickets --- even as he is driven to assist Peter on his own time for reasons that he can only vaguely explain to himself.

Clay leaves the confines of Berkeley for a couple of forays into the extremely diverse flora and fauna around the Bay area of northern California, and beyond, where folks are adept at keeping secrets not so much by lying as by studiously concealing the truth, at least for a while. This quest leads him to an arson that occurred decades ago, a heretofore unsolved kidnapping, an Italian heiress, a vinyl record store, and all sorts of other various assorted and sundry people and objects.

In the hands of the Kellermans, it all makes perfect sense so quickly and smoothly that one barely realizes the scope of the cornucopia encountered until several pages have passed. It is a wonder, as are the twin mysteries that propel the book from beginning to end, not to mention the background signal noise from the social justice warriors who are doomed to get in their own and each other’s way.

You may come for the mysteries in HALF MOON BAY, but you certainly will stay for the conclusion, which is one of the more satisfying of any book that you will read during this or any year. For some reason I was reminded of the ending of “Breaking Bad,” even though the book has absolutely nothing in common with that worthy television series. Read it and see if you feel the same way. Even if you don’t, you will not be sorry.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on August 14, 2020

Half Moon Bay
by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

  • Publication Date: July 21, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books
  • ISBN-10: 0525620087
  • ISBN-13: 9780525620082