The Executor 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
By Jesse Kellerman
G.P. Putnam's Sons | 352 pages | $25.95
The protagonist in Jesse Kellerman’s The Executor is Joseph Geist, a 30-year-old “lapsed Catholic” who, when we first meet him, is being evicted from her apartment by his girlfriend, Yasmina, after their two year romance reaches its end. She comes from a wealthy family in California and is finishing her law education at Harvard. Geist is in his eighth year as a graduate student in philosophy, also at Harvard, but is unable to complete his dissertation and his student status is being suspended.
Geist comes from a troubled mid-western household that is dominated by
his cruel father who “brutalized his family.” His mother “was a child
when she married” and she is completely cowed by her husband. They were
wed after she became pregnant with Christopher, Geist’s older brother.
The father physically abused Christopher, finally beating him so
severely that Christopher ran away in his father’s truck and went off
the road, dying in an accident. It was never clear as to whether or not
Christopher had actually committed suicide.
Befriended by the local Catholic priest, Geist studied philosophy with
him and was encouraged to seek admission to Harvard where he gradually
did well and was urged to pursue a doctorate. Now, as his relationship
with Yasmina is ending and his dissertation progress is at a
standstill, he answers an ad for a “conversationalist” and begins a
relationship with Alma Spielmann, an elderly, wealthy lady, originally
from Vienna. She is interested in philosophy and they have lengthy
discussions, leading eventually to her inviting him to live in her
large house. Things begin to deteriorate as her poor health gets worse
and a scheming nephew appears on the scene. The ensuing developments
are hellish with dire and disastrous consequences.
This intriguing story grips the reader’s attention as it proceeds
inexorably to its calamitous conclusion. Kellerman makes full use of
his own experience as a Harvard undergraduate in providing a backdrop
for his riveting tale. When Jesse Kellerman’s parents get ready to pass
the baton, they can do so with full confidence that the next generation
will live up to the high standard they have set.
Author Jesse Kellerman is the 31-year old son of Faye and Jonathan
Kellerman, both successful mystery writers. Jonathan Kellerman, a
former clinical psychologist, has written many thrillers featuring Alex
Delaware, a forensic psychologist and special consultant to the Los
Angeles Police Department. Faye Kellerman, trained as a dentist, is a
highly successful detective story writer. Her chief characters are
“Rabbi” Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. She has recently published a
novel for teens, written with her daughter, Aliza. The family members
are observant Jews and Jesse Kellerman spent a year in Israel studying
at a religious seminary. However, only Faye Kellerman features Jewish
characters in her books. The Executor
is Jesse Kellerman’s fourth novel. Although he has a
graduate degree in playwriting, he prefers to write fiction since he
doesn’t have to share responsibility with a play’s director. His three
previous novels, The Genius, Trouble and Sunstroke, were all well
received mysteries. This latest book will undoubtedly add luster to his
already fine reputation and will reinforce the high esteem fully earned
by the Kellerman family.The writer is the founding dean, Wurzweiler School of Social Work,
Yeshiva University, and dean emeritus, School of Social Work,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.