People with psychological problems have a way of turning up in Alex Delaware’s life, even though he has retired from clinical practice to do forensic work for the courts. In PRIVATE EYES, it is Melissa Dickinson, whom Delaware treated as a child, who shows up nine years after ending treatment. She is scheduled to enter Harvard and wants Delaware’s advice on how that would affect her mother, Gina Ramp, an agoraphobic.
Kellerman introduces the main characters by way of an extended flashback covering Delaware’s treatment of Melissa as a child. Melissa, the readers learns, suffered from night terrors as a child. Her mother’s agoraphobia stemmed from an attack by Joel McCloskey, who threw acid in the actress’ face.
Soon after Delaware visits the family mansion to talk with Melissa’s mother, the action of the story begins. Gina Ramp disappears from the mansion after speaking with Delaware about her daughter’s school plans. Delaware is soon involved in a maze of questions as he investigates the disappearance. The primary suspect is McCloskey, who has just returned to the area on parole. Everyone involved in the case, however, has a secret or ulterior motive, complicating the search for Gina Ramp. Delaware, with the help of Milo Sturgis, a policeman on disciplinary leave, uses his psychological training to figure out all of the secrets as he unravels the several mysteries concerning Gina Ramp’s disappearance.
PRIVATE EYES, like Kellerman’s six previous Alex Delaware novels, reads quickly and engrosses the reader in all of its subplots. Kellerman’s writing style, peppered with sentence fragments, lends immediacy to his narrative and moves the plot forward quickly.