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The Genius by Jesse Kellerman

The 31 year old son of best selling author duo Jonathan and Faye Kellerman recently published his third novel. The Genius (2008) centers around the serial killer of young boys, but it is as much a family saga as a crime novel.

Ethan Muller, a young art dealer, discovers a massive collection of drawings by an eccentric loner who has disappeared, leaving his artwork behind. Based on the content of the drawings, it appears that the artist may have also been a serial killer. Ethan decides to investigate the unsolved crimes and finally uncovers a deeply buried family secret. Set in New York City, the story is narrated alternately by Ethan in the present and from the past using the viewpoint of various family members over four decades. The family history details the rise from poverty to great wealth and power.

Jesse Kellerman may be a better writer than either of his parents. This novel is very well done. It has poignant and poetic passages, but also a light touch. And he keeps the suspense going.

PS: Do you remember Henry Darger, an outsider artist whose Lincoln Park apartment was discovered to be filled with fantastical drawings after he died? The artist character in this story is clearly based on Darger, who, as far as I know, was not a serial killer.
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