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The Golem of Paris


The Golem of Paris

Arthur C. Clarke stated, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” That same conclusion might hold true to any science or discipline. I don’t know how one might define “magic” in the literary sense, but I can give you an example of it. It’s a novel titled THE GOLEM OF PARIS by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman, a sequel to 2014’s THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD. Like that most worthy book, it is a seamless collaboration between two extremely talented authors with very different styles and bibliographies who make the creation of the end result look easy when it almost certainly was anything but that.

THE GOLEM OF PARIS features the very welcome return of Jacob Lev, the haunted and troubled LAPD detective who learned in the earlier book that everything he knew about himself was wrong. We encounter Jacob (following a haunting, riveting prologue) about a year after the events of THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD. He is back to drinking heavily and is estranged from his father, Sam, due to the secret that Sam kept from him for several years. Jacob has returned to the depths of the LAPD’s traffic division where he is immersed in traffic research. However, his old friends from the Special Projects division get him reassigned to a decrepit warehouse where he is tasked with organizing and filing the LAPD’s cold case files.

"THE GOLEM OF PARIS is ostensibly a mystery, but it slides across genre boundaries --- romance, supernatural, historical, liturgical --- and obliterates them."

A particular file attracts his attention. It is a heartbreaking case over a decade old involving the murder of a single mother and her young son whose bodies were bizarrely posed in an alley. Jacob begins investigating the killings on his own time, and in doing so discovers that a similar crime recently occurred in Paris. When he also finds that a shadowy Russian scientist with a penchant for violence has a connection to his case, as well as to Paris, Jacob travels to that fabled city where his interjection into the Parisian murder investigation is met with initial reluctance. (The Kellermans easily could have developed an entire novel based solely on the French characters.)

At the same time, Jacob is shocked to find a connection between his mother’s past and, of all places, Czechoslovakia, which played such an important role in the events of THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD. The reader is intermittently given some very important background information concerning Jacob’s mother, a character who was all but absent in the first book but for an extremely fateful occurrence at its conclusion. Other characters reappear like good friends and bad pennies, as we learn more about who --- and what --- the Special Projects division really is, and the mysterious, alluring Mai, who is something less than Jacob’s lover and something much, much more, makes an appearance or two. Meanwhile, the one person who might be able to provide answers to some of Jacob’s questions can’t or won’t. At least that is what Jacob thinks. He may be wrong.

THE GOLEM OF PARIS is ostensibly a mystery, but it slides across genre boundaries --- romance, supernatural, historical, liturgical --- and obliterates them. Remember when I called this book the product of magic? The same term applies to the smoke, mirrors, stage backdrop and everything else that went into the creation of this wonderful, haunting tale. If you haven’t read THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD, please do so first. It isn’t entirely necessary, but your enjoyment of this follow-up will be increased one-hundredfold. Both books are perfectly paced; I kept asking myself “How do they do that?” as the pages flew by. Read, wonder and enjoy for yourself.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on November 6, 2015

The Golem of Paris
by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman