SERENDIPITOUS TUESDAYS: “BREAKDOWN”

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Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Books & a Beat.

Today’s feature is Breakdown, by Jonathan Kellerman, another thriller spotlighting Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis.

 

 

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Intro:  Noise was everywhere.  To avoid it, Tina figured you had to die.

When she and Harry lived in Manhattan, the nerve-scraping clangor of garbage trucks and delivery vans had served as early-morning alarm clocks.  Waking up to the din was jarring and souring for Tina but useful for Harry because he slept like a drunk and had to be on the subway by seven.

Here in L.A., nestled in the alleged luxe of upper Bel Air, mornings were quiet.  Until they weren’t:  the house groaning and creaking randomly, scolding reminders that they’d traded New York bedrock for the traitorous sand of earthquake country.

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Teaser:  The hands dropped a bit.  The near-stuporous confusion behind them might’ve been mental illness but I bet the real cause was Kristin Doyle-Maslow’s manipulation.  Zelda had no conscious need to see me; The Hyphen’s project required an inaugural documented patient and I was the sucker who’d responded to a guilt trip. (p. 53).

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Blurb:  Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware meets beautiful and emotionally fragile TV actress Zelda Chase when called upon to evaluate her five-year-old son, Ovid. Years later, Alex is unexpectedly reunited with Zelda when she is involuntarily committed after a bizarre psychotic episode. Shortly after Zelda’s release, an already sad situation turns tragic when she is discovered dead on the grounds of a palatial Bel Air estate. Having experienced more than enough of L.A.’s dark side to recognize the scent of evil, Alex turns to his friend LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis for help in finding out who ended Zelda’s broken life.

At the same time, Alex is caught up in another quest: the search for Zelda’s missing son. And when other victims vanish from the same upscale neighborhood, worry turns to terror.

As Alex struggles to piece together the brief rise and steep fall of a gorgeous, talented actress, he and Milo unveil shattered dreams, the corruption of a family, and a grotesque betrayal of innocence. With each devastating revelation and damning clue, Alex’s brilliant mind is challenged as never before—and his determination grows to see a killer caged and the truth set free.

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What is your verdict?  Keep reading, or not?  I always enjoy the author’s Alex Delaware stories, so I’m definitely in this one until the end.

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REVIEW: VICTIMS, BY JONATHAN KELLERMAN

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When Detective Milo Sturgis calls Alex Delaware in to consult on a new murder, his tone suggests that something out of the ordinary has happened.

The victim, Vita Berlin, was killed by a perpetrator who snapped her neck. But then, after death, her innards were showcased around her neck, like a necklace.

As the investigation begins, several strange aspects puzzle them, but one thing is clear. The victim was disliked by almost everyone. A lawsuit she filed and won leads Milo and Alex, and the others, to an insurance company where she had worked, the source of her complaint of harassment.

Soon another victim is discovered, with the same MO…but he was someone everyone loved. What, if anything, connects the victims, and how will the detectives solve this bizarre case?

When observers identify someone hanging around the scenes, a strange man wearing a shearling coat that seemed out of place for the warm weather, a mental health diagnosis seems likely. Will Alex’s own past somehow insert itself into the mix, leading them to a place where he was an intern?

What I love most about the Alex Delaware series is watching Alex and Milo go through their paces, logically eliminating suspects and connections until they seemingly land serendipitously at the very place that will reveal important pieces of the puzzle. I also enjoy the glimpses of their personal lives, that lend a balance and distract the reader from the gruesome moments.

Six victims in all have only the two things in common: a broken neck and the bizarre necklace of intestines. And as more and more people report the shearling coat man sighting, there is a gradual movement toward one place where all paths converge.

Victims (Alex Delaware) was a very satisfying page-turner that came together very nicely at the end, but the conclusion also showed the sadness left behind, as Alex struggles to resume a normal life. 5.0 stars.