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The Ghost Orchid by Jonathan Kellerman – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

An Alex Delaware Novel

Rosepoint Rating: Five Stars

Book Blurb:

Psychologist Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis confront a baffling, vicious double homicide that leads them to long-buried secrets worth killing for in the riveting thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling “master of suspense” (Los Angeles Times).

LAPD homicide lieutenant Milo Sturgis sees it all the time: Reinvention’s a way of life in a city fueled by fantasy. But try as you might to erase the person you once were, there are those who will never forget the past . . . and who can still find you.

A pool boy enters a secluded Bel Air property and discovers two bodies floating in the bright blue water: Gio Aggiunta, the playboy heir to an Italian shoe empire, and a gorgeous, even wealthier neighbor named Meagin March. A married neighbor.

An illicit affair stoking rage is a perfect motive. But a “double” in this neighborhood of gated estates isn’t something you see every day. The house is untouched. No forced entry, no forensic evidence. The case has “that feeling,” and when that happens, Milo turns to his friend, the brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware.

As Milo and Alex investigate both victims, they discover two troubled pasts. And as they dig deeper, Meagin March’s very identity begins to blur. Who was this glamorous but conflicted woman? Did her past catch up to her? Or did Gio’s family connections create a threat spanning two continents?

Chasing down the answers leads Alex and Milo on an exploration of L.A.’s darkest side as they contend with one of the most shocking cases of their careers and learn that that some secrets are best left buried in the past.

My Review:

Okay, my turn for an Alex Delaware series novel by Jonathan Kellerman (the CE can’t have them all), one of my favorite series and authors. There have been almost forty installments but as numerous as that sounds, each is fresh (could be read as a standalone) and I never get tired of his descriptive writing style.

There are actually two threads in this one, a minor thread about an adopted juvenile whose parents decide they no longer want him. (Knife to the heart!) The major plot involves a double homicide. Alex is a child psychologist but is frequently pulled into an investigation by his homicide detective buddy, Milo Sturgis, as is this one after they discover the death of two persons poolside in the LA area.

Dr. Delaware is exceptionally observant and his training makes him uniquely qualified to get into the scene, postulate how and in what order the crime might have gone down. The lady in question is older and married (not necessarily to the young male found in proximity), extremely rich through her marriage. He is likewise embarrassingly rich, the young son of an Italian Shoe Empire.

No question there are negative feelings for both victims at the beginning of the book. Spoiled rich kid—mysterious lady, hidden past. Hmmm. So, who was the target? The collateral damage?

Obviously a layered investigation, more so on Alex’s side, that begins with the process of elimination and a lot of hours and manpower spent in mindless scouring of everything from phone calls to birth records.

[Side bar: Of course, Alex has green eyes—surprise!—so does another character along with the explanation that only two percent of the world’s population have them. Them and the CE! (It always frosted me that I never got my mother’s beautiful blue eyes. So what would be the odds that my son would have the CE’s green eyes? Despite my m-i-l declaring it would be impossible—apparently not.)]

As Alex and Milo progress through interviews, the sentiment gradually begins to sway just a tad to neutral and by the end of the book strongly sympathetic to both victims. Gees, can a person ever catch a break?

As always, I enjoy the aesthetics and atmosphere of the LA area and surrounds, and the characters, both main and support are well-developed, engaging, and magnetic. Of course, Alex and Milo spark off each other, the perfect antithesis and their dynamic works. The child custody case might be heartbreaking, but the conclusion is a positive one—a win when you need it. Now, the painting of the Ghost Orchid…

These installments always leave me anticipating the next one, but gotta say, I really enjoyed this one a lot! The CE last read City of the Dead and I The Wedding Guest but this one wins the five stars. Recommended—a don’t miss!

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Book Details:

Genre: Ghost Suspense, Ghost Mysteries, Murder Thrillers
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ASIN: B0C4JBJBFG
Print Length: 304 pages
Publication Date: February 6, 2024
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

The Author: Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician. As a senior, at the age of 22, he won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction.

Like his fictional protagonist, Alex Delaware, Jonathan received at Ph.D. in psychology at the age of 24, with a specialty in the treatment of children. He served internships in clinical psychology and pediatric psychology at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles and was a post-doctoral HEW Fellow in Psychology and Human Development at CHLA.

IN 1975, Jonathan was asked by the hospital to conduct research into the psychological effects of extreme isolation (plastic bubble units) on children with cancer, and to coordinate care for these kids and their families. The success of that venture led to the establishment, in 1977 of the Psychosocial Program, Division of Oncology, the first comprehensive approach to the emotional aspects of pediatric cancer anywhere in the world. Jonathan was asked to be founding director and, along with his team, published extensively in the area of behavioral medicine. Decades later, the program, under the tutelage of one of Jonathan’s former students, continues to break ground.

Jonathan’s first published book was a medical text, PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF CHILDHOOD CANCER, 1980. One year later, came a book for parents, HELPING THE FEARFUL CHILD.

In 1985, Jonathan’s first novel, WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, was published to enormous critical and commercial success and became a New York Times bestseller. BOUGH was also produced as a t.v. movie and won the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher Awards for Best First Novel. Since then, Jonathan has published a best-selling crime novel every year, and occasionally, two a year. In addition, he has written and illustrated two books for children and a nonfiction volume on childhood violence, SAVAGE SPAWN (1999.) Though no longer active as a psychotherapist, he is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

Jonathan is married to bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman and they have four children. [Goodreads]

©2023 – V Williams



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