Published by Headline
Publication date – 14 February 2017
Source – library
“In Heartbreak Hotel by New York Times No.1 bestseller Jonathan Kellerman, criminal psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware investigates the death of his most mysterious patient to date. Fans of Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben will revel in this knife-sharp storytelling from the master of psychological suspense.
At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients child psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at The Aventura – a luxury hotel with a checkered history.
What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions – about guilt, patterns of criminal behaviour, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he returns the following morning, his question goes unanswered, and new ones arise…
In their most puzzling investigation to date, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman’s life.
For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harboured nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.”
Alex Delaware’s usual patients are children. So it is purely down to curiosity that he goes to visit Thalia Mars, who at 99 is considerably older than his usual consults. Thalia asks about criminal behaviour. His interest peaked, Alex agrees to visit Thalia the next day. When he arrives he finds she has been killed. But who would murder Thalia and why? Alex and his friend Lieutenant Milo Sturgis are soon embroiled in a mystery that spans back to the golden age of gangsters and organised crime.
The story itself is well paced and interesting. Harking back to the days of gangsters and organised crime the reader finds out the clues as Alex and Milo do so can sit back and watch the story unfold. There are no chase scenes or dangerous situations, this is more of a gentle paced whodunit, though that’s not to say its boring. I was soon caught up in the story, revisiting old friends, and enjoyed reading this very much.
There were moments when references went over my head, a lot of them obvious to US culture but not enough to loose the thread of the story for those of us not familiar with them. There are quite a few side characters in the book, sometimes it was hard to place them in the narrative and I did find myself at one point flicking back to see where the name had been mentioned before.
This is book 32 in the Alex Delaware series. You don’t have to read the series in order as all of them can be read as a standalone, but regular readers come to know the recurring characters.
I had noticed in recent novels that Robin, Alex’s girlfriend, and Milo, his detective best friend, had seemed to take something of a side role. This was still the case to some extent in Heartbreak Hotel. Thankfully though both began to have more involvement as the story developed. Whilst these are the Alex Delaware mysteries I always feel that the stories benefit from more of a rounded cast and Milo and Robin add more interest to the books.
The staccato narrative is still present. Some sentences are two words. Jonathan Kellerman has developed a style of removing unnecessary verbs and adjectives but you soon become used to the clipped writing style.
This is an enjoyable crime caper with two well established and likeable returning characters. I look forward to reading more novels featuring Alex Delaware in the future.