, it s the first in the Alex Delaware thriller series and revolving around a child psychologist who took early retirement five and a half months ago.
In 1986, When the Bough Breaks won the Anthony and Edgar Awards for Best First Novel.
My TakeSneaky Kellerman slides his story under your skin, smooth, easy, no great jolts and with Alex s perspective in first person protagonist point of view Once he has you hooked on the intriguing characters, then he begins to slide in those other hooks, the ones that make your heart pound, your brain need to know, and the biggest hook of all the curious need to know who, what, and why.
In some ways, When the Bough Breaks is a bit slow to get a move on, but it does have some nasty little twists Nothing that dives too deep, but enough to make you wonder how such people can exist.
I started out liking Robin simply because she s an artist with wood, then I didn t, and now I m not sure After all, her NIMBY attitude could return Milo is quite different, and I m enjoying his relationship with Alex There s an intellectual side that makes it fun Alex, of course, is intriguing He s incredibly smart and empathic, and yet he doesn t come off as holier than thou I m also hoping that Biondi continues to featureit s that urge for justice to prevailin public Yes, I liked Professor Van der Graaf as well He may not use his power, but he does understand the realities.
It was difficult to feel the when of the setting, even though Kellerman did mention dates and events, i.
, the Korean War and Towle s family dying in 1951 But they were blips, and there was no ongoing sense of the period I think it s the technological lines that tripped me up No cellphones No Internet Alex loving his Seville It could have been any time, any when.
There s some fascinating insight into Hispanic society and their communication style, as well as an explanation of curanderos And there oughta be a course or ten in medical schools to teach doctors hmmm, maybe cops too about caring That snarky comment about academic rigor has made me think about checking out how involved a doctor is and whether that involvement includes gladhanding or writing papers.
It s well written with some issues, and I m curious to see how Kellerman improves and I want to know what Alex does next, if Milo and Rick continue, if Robin expands her area of expertise and her support for Alex We ll see what happens when I pick up Blood Test.
The StoryDetective Milo Sturgis has two brutally hacked up bodies and a seven year old witness who can t remember It s Dr Alex Delaware attempting to unlock Melody s memories that brings the first lead A step that leads down a twisty path, one that makes connections in all the wrong places, including the catalyst that sent Alex into a spiraling depression.
Behind this single step lies a forty year old conspiracy, hiding an unspeakable evil that Alex must expose before it claims yet another innocent victim.
The CharactersDr Alex Delaware is a thirty three year old child psychologist and retired I hate him already A good looking man, he s burnt the candle from both ends and needs rest He met Robin, who makes beautiful musical instruments, at McCabe s, a guitar shop.
Homicide Detective Milo Bernard Sturgis is gay and has an M.
A in American Lit His fellow cops know his preferences, and he gets the lousy cases Dr Rick Silverman who works ER at Cedars is the new guy Larry is the stage manager with whom Milo recently broke up Milo works with Detective Delano Hardy.
Olivia Brickerman used to work at the Department of Social Services now she works for her nephew Steve at his practice, the Santa Monica Psychiatric Medical Group Her husband, Al, is antisocial and passionate about chess Gabriel is a younger son who lives in Hawaii Ned Biondi is a senior writer for the L.
A Times who owes Alex for how he helped his daughter, Anne Marie.
Western Pediatric Medical Center is where Alex used to work Henry Bork is the smarmy medical director Cora is in charge of the administrative offices The snooty Dr Lionel Willard Towle is a well respected, established pediatrician who pushes pills with his own medical issues Sandi is the too open receptionist Edna is the battle axe and right hand gal Lilah and Lionel Willard, Jr, had been his wife and son.
Bonita Quinn is the manager of an upscale apartment complex for MM Properties of which Marduk Marty I Minassian is president Melody is her inactive seven year old Ronnie Lee Quinn is her abusive ex husband.
Dr Morton Handler was a psychiatrist with few morals Elaine Elena Gutierrez was his girlfriend and a fabulous Emotionally Handicapped teacher Rafael and Andy Gutierrez are her brothers Sra Cruz is their mother Raquel Ochoa was Elena s best friend from childhood, roommate, and a fellow teacher at the school Her brother Miguel was killed.
Some of the possible murderers patients include Rex Allen Camblin Peter Lewis Jefferson Michael Penn, a nasty piece of a student Julie is one girl he s stringing along while he sets up Sonya Magary who owns Puff n Stuff Children s Boutique Lance Arthur Shattuck Maurice Bruno, a v p in charge of sales at Presto Instant Print Roy Longstreth, a pharmacist who collects Icarts from whom Handler tried a little extortion and Cpl Gerard Paul Mendenhall.
La Casa de los Ni os is a children s home for the homeless and chronic wards of the Dependency Court The Reverend Augustus J McCaffrey, a.
, Rev Gus, is the director He used to run a similar place in Mexico, Father Augustino s Christian Home Cary Nemeth had been thought to be mute until Elena worked with him he had also been a resident Other residents included Rodney Broussard Tim Kruger is the director of counseling with a B.
A in psych and an M.
A in counseling ed Jim Halstead is the head coach The Gentleman s Brigade is a group of businessmen pushed by their corporations to volunteer time at La Casa They seem to be something of a Big Brothers group The Honorable Edwin G Hayden is a supervising judge of the Dependency Court.
Stuart Hickle, a retired lab technician, had been caught, a pedophile accused of harming the charges in his wife s daycare facility, Kim s Korner Kim has an attack dog, Otto.
Jedson College is a private college in Washington state that caters to rich families Margaret Dopplemeier is in charge of the public relations And don t rock her boat A friend, a good man, Lee, had been a Princeton graduate who couldn t take it any Professor Van der Graaf in the History Department is the oldest of the Old Guard and quite the gossip Three students back in the day had been called the Three Heads of State behind their backs Jeffrey Saxon had been a scholarship student and one of the few students who loved knowledge Gretchen Chaplain had done a thesis on Brindamoor Island.
Andr Jaroslav has the Institute for Martial Arts in West Hollywood and consults for the movies Bill Roberts was a reporter with National Medical News Bettiejean is a waitress at Angela s A Zeigarnik effect is when people develop tension when they have unfinished business Artie Gershman is president of Presto Instant Print Denise is his secretary and, Lenny is a customer Marianne is in transcripts at the University of Oregon Brian Adamses, any one of em, is a handy way in The boys on the ferry include Dougie, Harmon Lundquist, Matt, and Ray.
The Cover and TitleThe cover is grim in its stark grayness, the only cheer coming from the young Melody Quinn in her striped jumper with the bright green short sleeved T and brown sandals, about to rise up from her squat, long brown hair framing a face looking at us with solemnity A long gray shadow stretches horizontally across the the cover, the only other color, a white outlined burgundy for the title taking up the top half of the cover and the author s name at the bottom below the shadow.
The title is from a lullaby, and When the Bough Breaks these perverts will fall.
This wasn t the first Alex Delaware novel I d read I had the good fortune of being introduced to Jonathan Kellerman with Monster And what an introduction it was In my experience, the Alex Delaware novels are a bit hit and miss Some are really good Some just aren t.
This novel, however, was a winner of the Edgar award, and being a bit of a fan I decided to start the series from scratch All things considered, and keeping the character development of Alex Delaware in mind, that is probably the best way to approach these novels.
At any rate, after a somewhat slow burning first half the novel really takes off To utilise one of the oldest cliches in the industry the plot thickensIt s a rewarding experience and one well worth your time if you re looking for a good mystery thriller to read.
Kellerman really plumbs the depth of disturbing human behaviour, and this novel is no exception It is an unsettling book.
Some criticism was levelled at this book regarding its theme Some reviewers regard it as a literary trope, or even a clich Consider, however, when the book was published 1985 It frustrates me when older novels are criticized by today s standards, regarding aspects like these What is an overused trope today most certainly was not necessarily one thirty years ago The theme was actually extremely valid, considering current events at that time, and which I obviously can t list here for spoiler reasons.
Kellerman is a very competent wordsmith and once the novel gets its second breath it really takes off as the mystery is unravelled And what a thread it is.
A nice surprise Alex Delaware in full action man mode There s even a car chase Check it out And just because I simply couldn t resist Hush a by babyOn the tree top,When the wind blowsThe cradle will rock.
When the Bough Breaks,The cradle will fall,Down tumbles baby,Cradle and all.
In The First Alex Delaware Novel, Dr Morton Handler Practiced A Strange Brand Of Psychiatry Among His Specialties Were Fraud, Extortion, And Sexual Manipulation Handler Paid For His Sins When He Was Brutally Murdered In His Luxurious Pacific Palisades Apartment The Police Have No Leads, But They Do Have One Possible Witness Seven Year Old Melody Quinn It S Psychologist Dr Alex Delaware S Job To Try To Unlock The Terrible Secret Buried In Melody S Memory But As The Sinister Shadows In The Girl S Mind Begin To Take Shape, Alex Discovers That The Mystery Touches A Shocking Incident In His Own Past This Connection Is Only The Beginning, A Single Link In A Forty Year Old Conspiracy And Behind It Lies An Unspeakable Evil That Alex Delaware Must Expose Before It Claims Another Innocent Victim Melody Quinn It was unbelievable of me never to have heard the household name of Jonathan Kellerman I read his latest book in the series of Alex Delaware, then I nabbed the first book and compared them.
I thought there was too much doctoring going on Too many people to be interviewed But in the course of vigilante duty, our hero Alex hurts the opposition and also gets hurt in return.
I think among all the ex shrinks whose books I ve read, this author s resonates the most with me Humanism is so important in the way it permeates our routines, that a humanist psychiatrist being a main protagonist is an irony that was not lost on me.
I love Milo Sturgis I like Dr Alex Delaware Kellerman is a great genre author, and I will recommend him highly to everyone unless you are a cozy reader or hung up on propriety Alex breaks the rules in the manner of 1970 s TV private eyes who were fighting the good fight, like in The Rockford Files or Magnum P I He is a star, someone who can do anything, except walk away from criminality He makes mistakes, but he is one of those individuals who is very smart, athletic and lucky Despite his privileged life, earned through endless 24 7 hours of hard work, not simply due to background, he is empathic to the problems of the weak and helpless, very rare for people like him He is an independently wealthy man, similar to the Golden Age classic British fiction peers who come back from the World Wars scarred by their experience who cannot return to their previous life of leisure but turn to crime fighting Unlike those titled British detectives, he is a hard working upper middle class American familiar with the dark corners of society through his profession of child psychologist He puts his life and hard earned credentials on the line in order to save victims from powerful people, knowing otherwise the money and social status will allow these bad guys to buy freedom I read this one when I was a young kid myself and I loved Alex and Milo I did not for one second realize the echoes of other marvelous historical mystery writers were in every page of this book until this reading, disguised by American cultural genre writing Now, I see Batman and Agatha Christie and the X Men and Ngaio Marsh Never is privilege put to better use except in genre fiction, and when the writing and characterization is this good, I love it Obviously, some will not feel as I do, which is pass the popcorn and shut up.
This is the first book in Jonathan Kellerman s long running series featuring Alex Delaware, a child psychologist Burned out, Alex has retired from his practice at the age of thirty three after consulting in a particularly unsettling case involving the young victims of a serial pedophile The children are well on the road to recovery, but Alex is in desperate need of some down time.
But then Dr Morton Handler, a psychiatrist, is brutally murdered along with his girlfriend in the apartment that they shared A little girl named Melody Quinn, who lives in a neighboring apartment, was up in the middle of the night and may have seen the killers But the child is deeply troubled and is unable to give the police any useful help.
Alex s friend, homicide Detective Milo Sturgis, convinces Alex to examine the girl in the hope that Alex can get her to open up and give the police the description of the killers that they so desperately need Alex reluctantly agrees and is immediately drawn into a dark and very dangerous world populated by wealthy, powerful and amoral men But despite the threat to both his professional reputation and, ultimately, his personal safety, Alex cannot turn his back on the evil he s uncovered or on the little girl who has no one else to defend her.
This is really an excellent introduction to a series that may have lost its way a bit in later books The idea of a child psychologist as the main protagonist in a series of crime novels was a brilliant stroke, and Kellerman, who was himself a child psychologist, created a very convincing character in Alex Delaware.
In this, and in most of the early books in the series, Alex s psychological skills were central to the stories Alex was called in to consult, perfectly legitimately, by a police department that clearly needed his help Alex was the central character and most of the others, including Milo Sturgis, rotated around him As in this book, Alex spent a great deal of time investigating on his own, unraveling the mystery and dealing with the bad guys in a way that made perfect sense.
Perhaps there were only so many plots that would legitimately accommodate a main character like Alex Delaware, but in the last few novels especially, the character of Milo Sturgis has come much to the fore and there really doesn t seem to be much of a legitimate reason for Alex to be tagging along Milo will simply call Alex and say, Hey, I ve got an interesting case Wanna ride along Alex may offer the occasional psychological insight, but often there s no credible reason for him to be involved in the investigation and even the casual reader understands that no police department would tolerate a civilian like Alex playing such a prominent role in a homicide investigation.
That may well be unjustified nitpicking, especially since I continue to enjoy these books But going back to the beginning and re reading this opening installment reminds one of how brilliant this series was initially and can only make you wish that the later books were still this good.
This was the beginning of it all Jonathan Kellerman pulled me into the Alex Delaware series, hook, line, sinker If you haven t checked it out Do so So good An entertaining beach read, When the Bough Breaks netted Kellerman an Edgar award for best debut novel and spawned a series still that s still commercially viable after three plus decades The writing is smooth and inoffensive without ever being great and I can see why Kellerman became successful He writes lucidly, keeps the pace moving with a nice balance of intrigue, humor and action However there is no way the protagonist a retired child psychologist, Alex Delaware can keep being injected in plots like this one without it feeling very forced.
Delaware is called in as a consultant by his gay cop friend Milo to help him with an underage witness Her hypnosis reveals a rabbit hole of multiple murders and a cabal of child molesters Delaware is a perfectionist looking for a challenge and a dedicated doctor so he selects the most rational course of action solve the murders single handedly by becoming a sort of mashup of Holmes and Bond My doctor doesn t even pick up calls on Sunday.
Delaware has plot armor than this one has plot He is brave, handsome, intelligent, resourceful, selfless and most importantly one dimensional The villains are on the other end of the scale perverted, probably inbred, despicable, arrogant kiddy fiddlers There is some delicious irony that Kellerman doesn t even realize On one occasion Delaware finds notes of a deceased shrink calling his patients condescending names like loser Delaware is indignant, summarizes said shrink is a psychopath Two chapters later he categorizes grieving family members as slob and super kid.
I liked Delaware in spite of him having the depth of a cardboard The first three fourth when he uses a lot of pop psychology and the book is written as a police procedural is pretty good The last one fourth turns into an action movie with Delaware suddenly getting involved in drawn out high speed chases and torture scenes Basically Kellerman posits before Netflix tamed bored intellectuals, they probably moonlighted as soldiers of fortune every time they ran out of interesting things to do When the Bough Breaks could have been fifty pages shorter, Delaware has a token love interest who was better left on the editing floor But in spite of it all I will probably pick up the next one It will probably never be a series that I will follow fastidiously but it s good for what it is trashy fun And it can even get better if Kellerman adds just a bit depth to his characters Rating 3 5
This novel and this series begins with child psychologist Alex Delaware enjoying a relaxed early retirement, a retirement fueled by burnout and precipitated by a shock After weeks of interviews with a score of molested children in a particularly vicious pre school case, Delaware returns to his office to find that their molester Stuart Hickle has killed himself gun in mouth on Delaware s own couch Soon Alex s friend police detective Milo Sturgis coaxes him back for a simple consulting job, interviewing a juvenile eyewitness on a murder case, but this simple job turns out of course to be not so simple after all Soon connections arise to cases of molestation, and Alex begins to suspect that suicide Hickle may have been the victim of murder instead.
This is an entertaining mystery Child psychologist Kellerman delivers sharp insights into his profession particularly into gentlemanly frauds like Dr Towle , creates a convincing friendship between Alex and the comfortably gay Milo, and paints a striking portrait of the affluent residential island community of Brindamoor And of course the plot moves along with the suitable number of intellectual surprises, visceral shocks, and complications.
But you know what I think I m getting tired of mystery novels, or at least most novels by writers who wrote their first books in the 1980 s or after, writers who always seem to have their eye on the main chance, on that blockbuster movie to come Since that time, every killer is a serial killer, every molester part of some vast molesting conspiracy, and of course there must always be an instance of absorbing action after a suitable number of pages, and even exciting sudden bursts of action as the plot hurtlles toward is end.
Don t get me wrong When the Bough Breaks is a perfectly acceptable mystery But sixty or seventy pages from the conclusion of this book, somewhere during the exciting chase when the mysterious figure on the motorcycle comes out of nowhere and starts firing his pistol at Alex in his car, I suddenly remembered why I disliked reading the novelizations of movies, and I vowed once again not to read any of them But this time around, I also added novelizations that precede the film and that includes those that lacked the good fortune ever to become movies at all.
75 I have become a fan of Faye Kellerman s Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus mystery series, so I decided to read her husband Jonathan s first book about Dr Alex Delaware Even though both series are about detectives, they are different in scope Whereas Decker has been a cop for 20 years and looking to move up ranks, Delaware is a young, retired child psychologist who befriends a detective named Milo Sturgis and helps out on his cases Additionally, Rina loves to get involved in Decker s cases, but Delaware s significant other Robin would rather that he go back to working in a private practice and leave the detecting to the police In this first book in the series we find Delaware bored with early retirement Sturgis asks him as a favor to please consult on a case where a seven year old girl was the only witness to a double murder Delaware becomes attached to the girl and decides to do his own form of consulting on the case What results is Delaware s investigation in which he peels back layer upon layer to make the case intriguing than it originally appeared This makes for a fast reading, psychological detective case I prefer Mrs Kellerman s series to that of her husband s because I share a similar lifestyle to that of the protagonists I also find human interaction and also a little action in her books I will probably read of Mr Kellerman s books, however, because they make for a good contrast and also because I suspect that both taking place amidst the circles of the LAPD, they are bound to overlap eventually All in all, a fast read and a series I will most likely revisit.