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The Golem of Hollywood
Cover of The Golem of Hollywood
The Golem of Hollywood
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The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Alex Delaware novels and the award-winning #1 international bestselling author of The Genius combine their extraordinary talents for one of the most unusual—and unnerving—thrillers of the year.
Detective Jacob Lev has awakened dazed and confused: it appears he picked up a woman the night before, but can't remember anything about it. And then suddenly, she's gone. Not long after, he's dispatched to a murder scene in a house in the Hollywood hills. There is no body, only a head. And seared into a kitchen counter is a message: the Hebrew word for justice.
Lev is about to embark on an odyssey—through Los Angeles, London, and Prague, through the labyrinthine mysteries of a grotesque ancient legend, and most of all, through himself. All that he has believed to be true will be upended. And not only his world, but the world itself, will be changed.
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Alex Delaware novels and the award-winning #1 international bestselling author of The Genius combine their extraordinary talents for one of the most unusual—and unnerving—thrillers of the year.
Detective Jacob Lev has awakened dazed and confused: it appears he picked up a woman the night before, but can't remember anything about it. And then suddenly, she's gone. Not long after, he's dispatched to a murder scene in a house in the Hollywood hills. There is no body, only a head. And seared into a kitchen counter is a message: the Hebrew word for justice.
Lev is about to embark on an odyssey—through Los Angeles, London, and Prague, through the labyrinthine mysteries of a grotesque ancient legend, and most of all, through himself. All that he has believed to be true will be upended. And not only his world, but the world itself, will be changed.
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  • From the book Chapter One

    PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC

    SPRING 2011


    Heap had followed the girl for days.
    The watch was an important part of it, the most delicious part:
    sinking into the background while that wonderful brain of his roared in
    high gear, eyes, ears, everything finely tuned.

    People tended to underestimate him. They always had. At Eton: two
    nights locked in a broom closet. At Oxford, they laughed, they did, the
    horsefaced girls and the cooing boys. And dear Papa, Lord of the Manor,
    Chancellor of the Purse Strings. All that school and you a bloody office boy.

    But underestimated is close to unnoticed.

    Heap capitalized on that.

    She could be any girl who struck his fancy.

    Eye the herd.

    Cull.

    The bright-eyed brunette in Brussels.

    Her virtual twin in Barcelona.

    The early work, glorious countryside afternoons, honing his technique.

    The unmistakable tingle came on him like a fit of sick. Though Heap
    wasn't fool enough to deny that he preferred a certain species: dark hair,
    sharp features. Lower class, not too bright, not bad-looking but well shy
    of pretty.

    Smallish body, except he demanded a big chest. The soft, yielding
    pressure never failed to excite.

    This one was perfect.

    He had first spotted her walking east along the Charles Bridge.
    He'd been skulking round for two weeks by then, taking in the sights,
    waiting for an opportunity to present itself. He liked Prague. He'd visited
    before and never left disappointed.

    Among the jean-clad magpies, the wattled American tourists, the
    leather-voiced buskers, and the minimally talented portrait artists, she had
    stood out for her modesty. Limp skirt, tight hair, focused and grim, she
    hurried along, cheeks carved out by the midmorning glare off the Vltava.

    Perfect.

    He tried to follow her but she melted into the crowd. The next day, he
    returned, hopeful, prepared, attentive. Opening his guidebook, he pretended
    to reread a gray box headed Did you know? The bridge had eggs
    mixed into its concrete for added strength. Good King Charles IV had
    commandeered every last egg in the kingdom, and they had obeyed, the
    stupid, slobbering masses, showing up to place them obsequiously at his
    royal feet.

    Did Heap know?

    Yes, he did. He knew everything worth knowing and much besides.

    Even the guidebook underestimated him.

    She passed again at the same time. And the day after that. Three days
    running he watched her. A girl of fixed habits. Lovely.

    Her first stop was a café near the bridge. She donned a red apron,
    cleared tables for change. At dusk, she left Old Town for New Town,
    exchanged the red apron for a black one, bussing trays and refilling steins
    at a beer hall that, by the smell of it, catered to the locals. Photos of the
    entrées in the window showed sausages smothered in that vile, muddy
    sauce they put on everything.

    From beneath the trolley stand, Heap watched her flit here and there.
    Twice passersby paused to ask him a question in Czech, which Heap
    took to mean that he appeared, as ever, unremarkable. He replied, in
    French, that he spoke no Czech.

    At midnight, the girl finished mopping up. She doused the restaurant's
    lights, and a few minutes later, a window two floors up blinked
    yellow, and her pale arm drew the blind.

    It would be a squalid rented room, then. A sad and hopeless life.

    Delicious.

    He considered finding a way into her flat. Blitzing her in her own
    bedroom.

    Appealing notion. But Heap despised senseless risk. It came of...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 21, 2014
    Both Kellermans, father (Killer) and son (Potboiler), have written better books than this muddled supernatural thriller, which may disappoint their fans as well as readers fond of paranormal mysteries. In the spring of 2011, a “hard-domed insect” attacks a serial killer in Prague as he stalks a victim. A year later, Det. Jacob Lev, a wise ass who has been relegated to analyzing data in an LAPD traffic unit, catches a break when he’s assigned to a bizarre murder case. At a house high in the Hollywood Hills, a severed head has been found on the living room floor; a burn mark on a kitchen counter spells out the Hebrew word for justice. In the course of the ensuing murder investigation, Lev repeatedly encounters a strange beetle. Eventually, his search for the truth takes him to Prague. Those looking for profound religious insights will have to seek elsewhere.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from September 1, 2014
    Two masters of psychological suspense weave a sprawling contemporary whodunit steeped in religious mythology, gruesome violence and the supernatural. A sardonic-depressive LAPD detective wakes up hung over with a beautiful brunette in his bed and can't remember how she got there. (At least she's alive.) The next thing he knows, he's been ordered off desk duty to join a "special" unit that's looking into the inexplicable appearance of a severed head in an abandoned living room. So far, anyway, we would appear to be treading on well-worn territory. But this father-son collaboration of Jonathan (the Alex Delaware mystery series) and Jesse (Potboiler, 2012, etc.) Kellerman has more on its mind than bizarro SoCal murder. The far-flung investigation by police detective (and rabbi's son) Jacob Lev, which takes him from Los Angeles to Prague and Oxford and back again, is interwoven with a tale, spanning eons, of ancient retribution and mystic transfiguration involving Jewish ritual and mythology; at its center, as the title implies, is a monstrous being built to render justice upon the wicked-including a serial killer or two. In clammier hands, this mixture would come across as a goopy farrago. But this is a witty, propulsive and frequently chilling read; its phantasmagorical elements are blended seamlessly enough with its up-to-the-minute crime-genre trappings to give its imaginative speculations some eerie plausibility. One caveat: The snappy back and forth between characters works better in the contemporary segments than in the ancient ones. But what's a few stray anachronisms in a story as ambitious and as entertaining as this? Any mystery that leaves you as satisfied with its lingering questions as it does with its solutions is worth your patronage.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2014
    A bodiless head has been found in a house in Hollywood; from the evidence, it doesn't appear that the decapitation was done at the house. Jacob Lev, an L.A. police detective who has lost his enthusiasm for the job, is transferred, out of the blue, to a department he's never heard of called Special Projects. His first assignment: find out to whom the head belongs, how it found its way to Hollywood, and why the Hebrew word for justice was found near the head. Lev thinks he was assigned to this weird murder case because he's Jewish, but as he'll soon discover, this is a case that will change his life, a case he was almost predestined to solve. Combining the procedural structure of Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels with the character-driven plotting of son Jesse's fiction, the novel is a solidly plotted thriller that takes its compelling lead character, Detective Lev, deep into some Old World mysteries (the word golem in the title proves key to the story). Very nicely done.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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