Killer by Jonathan Kellerman – Review

Published by Headline

Publication date – 25 September 2014

Source – own copy


“In this thrilling story from No. 1 bestseller Jonathan Kellerman, psychologist sleuth Alex Delaware becomes the target of a vengeful killer while a baby goes missing.

Well used to elevated emotions, psychologist Alex Delaware shrugs off a joking death threat from beautiful Beverly Hills physician Constance Sykes, whose attempt to secure legal custody of her baby niece is thwarted by Alex’s forthright report to the court. Alex plays down the threat until LAPD’s Milo Sturgis rushes to his side with the shocking word on the street that a hit’s been taken out on him.

But while Alex may be in grave danger, it won’t be from the Beverley Hills doctor, for Connie is soon discovered brutally slain. When her sister Cherie and the baby disappear, apparently on the run, Alex’s search for answers leads him to aged rockers, charming homeboys and even Machiavellian judges.

As the darkest of secrets are peel away, and a cruel system churns through family lives, Alex seeks to stop a vicious killer and save a child from a life of nightmares . . . or worse.”

4 of 5 stars

When he’s not solving murders with his old friend Milo Sturgis, Alex Delaware is a child pyscologist working on a variety of cases, include court referrals. One such referral involves a custody battle between two sisters. Instructed by the court, with only the child’s best interests in mind, Alex advises the court to resolve the case in the favour of the child’s mother. Connie Sykes, the child’s aunt, is not used to loosing. She threats Alex, who believes this is an idle threat. When a former client, and highly placed gang member, prevents a hit being carried out Alex being carried out, he is shaken to the core. When Connie is murdered and her sister Cherie and the baby disappear, Alex realises there is more at stake than his life.

The Alex Delaware series is now well established with Jonathan Kellerman having written over 20 novels featuring the child psychologist and his detective friend. His fan base is secure which can be a double edged sword. There are those loyal readers who will read any novel featuring Alex and co, who are aware of his back story and so need little information about the characters. But that means that those new to the novels may sometimes feel a little left out.

I fall into the former category but I am not blind to the little foibles Kellerman indulges himself in. Alex has perfected a form of narrative brevity that is peculiar to him. I have mentioned it before in other reviews of Kellerman’s novels. In earlier books this was either not present or not apparent, but Alex has a way of speaking that makes him seemingly use as few words as possible. It is a character quirk that I do not mind, in fact it is part of what makes Alex, Alex, insomuch as Milo’s appetite is nearly a character in its own right. It can whoever become irksome and make Alex seem more conceited perhaps than he is.

Another thing I noticed that I hadn’t really been aware of before was that after all these years of reading Dr Delaware tales I have no image in my head as to what he looks like. Most readers for each book they read create their own image of a character, based on the authors descriptions. Everyone obviously imagines a different person, and there is often good natured outcry if a person cast for a film or TV adaptation doesn’t fit the reader image. For all of Kellerman’s description of Milo, Robin, peripheral characters etc, all I take away from this book is an idea of the clothes Alex wore during the story. I can’t recall any description of him, though it may have been given in earlier books. Little is given away about his family, I couldn’t even tell you his age. When I imagine him, I picture Kellerman himself. Now this didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book, but I could see a new reader to the series having issues regarding connecting with a character who can seem remote.

As for the story this time it was very engaging. I always find myself caught up in Alex and Milo’s world and enjoy getting lost in the pages of the story.

There were a variety of characters who were well drawn. Connie for example is particularly sinister, and the gang member who ‘aids’ Alex is particularly engaging. There is a palpable sense of urgency, given there is a missing child at stake. I had guessed the ending before the big reveal but there were enough twists and turns to ensure I was entertained along the way.

There tends to be only one Delaware book published each year so I try to wait as long as possible before I read so the wait for the next one isn’t too long. Luckily I managed to get a copy of the next book in the series, Motive, so I read that soon after I finished Killer. That way I didn’t have to say goodbye straight away to Alex and co.

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