Sophisticated L.A. psychologist Alex Delaware doesn’t think too much about a child custody case between two sisters that he works on. Connie Sykes, a physician, is trying to gain custody of Rambla, her sister Ree’s daughter. Unsuccessful in her bid, Connie shows up at Alex’s office and tells him that she is not going to shoot him even though she “should.” This threat is the opening scene of Jonathan Kellerman’s novel Killer.
Alex is initially shaken up by the confrontation with Connie, but he does not take it seriously. Soon, however, word comes to the L.A. Police Department from an L.A. gang leader Alex saw as a patient when the gang leader was a teen that Connie attempted to hire someone to shoot him. The gang leader still has a soft spot for Alex because of the positive effect their therapy sessions have had on his life. He stops the hit and tells Alex what almost happened.
L.A.P.D. detective Milo Sturgis, who Alex frequently works with on cases, is one of the detectives that tells Milo the news about the proposed hit. Before Alex and Milo have a chance to talk to Connie about her evil deed, she is found dead in her home. When they go looking for Ree to see if she knows anything, they found out that Ree and Rambla have skipped town.
Killer proceeds with all the plot twists you’d expect from a thriller, but the dialogue is what really distinguishes this from other novels in the thriller genre. Whether it’s Milo’s hardboiled detective speak, the gang leader’s L.A. street slang, Ree’s sweet and spacy hippy musings, or Alex’s refined and somewhat detached way of conversing, Kellerman creates pitch perfect dialogue for every character.