A young woman's body has been found in a marsh. Selena Bass, the victim, is a pianist whose job is giving lessons to a wealthy family's child prodigy son. The case is given to Homicide Detective Milo Sturgis. He calls in his friend Dr. Alex Delaware. Delaware is a psychologist who works for the police as a consultant. The circumstances indicate that his expertise may be needed. Selena's body is left on display in the marsh, and the killer has called and left her location. More chilling, her right hand has been severed. Is this a tie-in to her profession as a pianist?
As the case progresses, complications arise. Three additional bodies are found in the marsh and all of them have severed right hands also. All the victims have been buried facing east. The older bodies are all women who worked the streets as prostitutes. The investigators go to talk with the wealthy family who employed Selena, only to find that they have gone overseas. They are left with only a caretaker who seems strange and reclusive, and the family's grown daughter, who doesn't live with the family and has only tangential information. More bad news occurs when the marsh's caretaker who found the first body is himself killed in the preserve. Soon other bodies are found, and the story gets more complex. The events seem to go back for many years, and each individual's history must be discovered and integrated with that of others.
Readers of the Alex Delaware series will be thrilled with this book. This is Kellerman's 23rd book in the series. I've been a fan for years, and this one is a master effort. But, readers who've never read any of the series will also find it intriguing. It is not necessary to know the background of the other books; Bones is more than capable of being read as a stand-alone thriller. Kellerman uses his background as a clinical psychologist to make all the characters lifelike and believable. Series characters change over time as they would in real life. The evil that man is capable of is outlined and the work of a detective is carefully followed. New characters are introduced in this book. I hope to meet some of them again in later books. It will be a sad day indeed when there are no more books in the Alex Delaware series. This book is highly recommended for mystery readers.