Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Jonathan Kellerman”

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #52: Monster by Jonathan Kellerman

My final review!!!! How thrilling!!! I read a few books that I didn’t review for various reasons, so I’m excited that I still made the 52! I wish I had something more exciting to say about this one.

From Amazon:

A marginal actor is found dead in a car trunk, sawn in half. Months later, a psychologist at a hospital for the criminally insane is discovered murdered and mutilated in a tantalizingly similar way. When reports of an inmate’s incoherent ramblings begin to make frightening sense as predictions of yet more slayings, Delaware and Sturgis are drawn into a web of family secrets, vengeance, and manipulation–both inside the asylum and on the streets of L.A., where death, drugs, and sex are marketed as commodities.

This is an Alex Delaware novel, published in 1999. It’s a pretty solid mystery thriller with an interesting plot and characters. I have made my love for Jonathan Kellerman’s books quite clear (Deception and Devil’s Waltz reviews), and my one complaint about them is that they can be a bit too twisty and fall into bureaucratic conspiracy as a plot device too often. This book didn’t have either of those elements — it was straightforward detecting, with no red herrings or conspiracy theorizing which I appreciated.

What made this one interesting for me was seeing how Delaware is the star of this one (as opposed to Milo, who clearly becomes the real “star” of the series, as I discussed in the Deception review). Kellerman has written tons of these books, and the nuance of his characters continue to grow across novels, which I really like. Again, this was a solid thriller that I really enjoyed.

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #43: Devil’s Waltz by Jonathan Kellerman

Book Description:

The doctors call it Munchausen by proxy, the terrifying disease that causes parents to induce illness in their own children. Now, in his most frightening case, Dr. Alex Delaware may have to prove that a child’s own mother or father is making her sick.

Twenty-one-month-old Cassie Jones is bright, energetic, the picture of health. Yet her parents rush her to the emergency room night after night with medical symptoms no doctor can explain. Cassie’s parents seem sympathetic and deeply concerned. Her favorite nurse is a model of devotion. Yet when child psychologist Alex Delaware is called in to investigate, instinct tells him that one of them may be a monster.

Then a physician at the hospital is brutally murdered. A shadowy death is revealed. And Alex and his friend LAPD detective Milo Sturgis have only hours to uncover the link between these shocking events and the fate of an innocent child.

This was one of the earlier books in the Alex Delaware series, originally published in 1993 (with a super creepy cover), and yet it still stands the test of the time fifteen years later. The topic is a horrifying one indeed – Munchausen by proxy is something that most of us find appalling and unbelievable. The notion of a parent making their child sick to receive attention is beyond our understanding. Jonathan Kellerman handles the issue deftly, recognizing the ethical and clinical dilemma Dr. Alex Delaware is in when he is asked to consult on the case. Alex typically does more investigation than we would expect from a psychologist, assisted by his best buddy the always delightful LAPD detective Milo Sturgis.

As tends to happen in the Delaware series, the twists and turns abound, and nothing is as it seems. The Munchausen by proxy issue is really a proxy (hah, see what I did there?) for the larger mystery which involves high levels of corruption among the hospital bureaucracy. The novel, despite its dark topic, is not without humour which helps to make it readable and enjoyable. This is definitely one of Kellerman’s strengths and a reason I will always read his book — he can deftly make the most complicated and dark mystery engaging and interesting, while also injecting moments of lightness (usually when Alex and Milo interact). Needless to say I enjoyed this book, and I recommend it even though it is a bit older.

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #36: Twisted by Jonathan Kellerman

I’ve enjoyed Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series, so I thought I’d give his other character a try. Petra Connor is a detective with two open cases. One is a street shooting that ended up with four dead teenagers outside a theater, which is causing a lot of pressure from the public, and the other is a pattern that an intern discovered, where a murder occurs every year on the same date. That day is coming up, so there’s also a lot of pressure there, with a nebulous case and a tight deadline.

I know Kellerman isn’t exactly great literature, but this book just didn’t seem like his best effort. The mystery was fine, but not terribly engrossing. Petra was a little too stereotypical for me. She’s the tough cop chick, but still hot. She’s a loner, but partners up with her boyfriend to take down criminals. She doesn’t always play by the book, so her superiors are suspicious. It just all seemed very expected. Kellerman tries to add some interest with the socially awkward genius intern (yawn), but it was all pretty forgettable.

Bothari’s #CBR4 Review #15: Blood Test by Jonathan Kellerman

Reading an Alex Delaware novel is usually like watching an episode of CSI. Predictable, pat, with the usual secondary characters, and the hero wins in the end. I think Kellerman may be running out of ideas, because this one went a little off the rails and into super-dramatic Lifetime movie territory.

Alex Delaware is a child psychologist, semi-retired after something seriously bad happened in a previous book (I don’t think I’ve read that one). He consults on difficult kid-related cases for friends and police. In Blood Test, an oncologist Alex used to work with calls for help with a young boy with cancer, whose parents want to refuse treatment. Alex agrees, but barely meets the family before they disappear, sneaking the boy out of his cancer-fighting plastic bubble. After finding a foreboding pool of blood in their hotel room, Alex calls in his friend Detective Milo Sturgis, and the search is on. Things quickly get weird. The suspect pool covers:

  • A hippie doctor who dabbles in holistic medicine and diddling his patients
  • A mysterious cult in a mysterious location outside a mysterious little town, led by a mysterious figure
  • The parents, but not for long, since (SPOILER) their bodies are soon found in shallow graves in the California hills
  • The little boy’s angry and oversexed older sister, who ended up working at an escort agency after being in town barely two days

There’s intrigue, there’s cultish mysteriosity, and I can’t tell you what really ratchets up the “Really? THAT’s where this has been leading?” factor without spoiling it. But it’s pretty soapy.

Alex himself is pretty dependable. He’s a likeable character when he’s not whining, and he and Milo always work well together. I think Kellerman confuses ‘setting the scene’ with ‘overdetailing everything you never wanted to know about what everyone’s wearing and eating,’ so some of the story drags. For example:

“I found Raoul in his lab, staring at a computer screen on which were displayed columns of polynomials atop a multicolored bar graph. He’d mutter in Spanish, examine a page of printout, then turn to the keyboard and rapidly type a new set of numbers. With each additional bit of datum the height of the bars in the graph changed. The lab was airless and filled with acrid fumes. High-tech doodads clicked and buzzed in the background. I pulled up a stool next to him, sat and said hello.”

Couldn’t that just have been “I found Raoul and said hello”? Yeesh.

Kellerman’s usually a safe bet, but this was definitely not one of my favorites. I think he tried too hard to shock his readers, and instead just made this one at least roll her eyes.

Petalfrog’s #CBR4 Review #6: Deception by Jonathan Kellerman


It’s been a couple of years since I read a Jonathan Kellerman novel, featuring his first-person protagonist Dr. Alex Delaware. I’ve always enjoyed these books: the mysteries are interesting and not overly involved, and the characters are realistic and consistent.

In Deception, the MOW (mystery of the week) is the murder of a substitute teacher and tutor at an exclusive L.A. prep school. Police detective, Milo Sturgis is charged with solving the mystery, and he (as usual) recruits his BFF, Dr. Alex Delaware to help out. Milo is also faced with a lot of political pressure on this case, as the son of the Chief of the Police attends the prep school.

Read the rest of this review here at my blog

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