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Friday, September 4, 2015


5 stars out of 5

In many ways - none of which I can specify without spoiling it for others - this book was disturbing to me (not that there's anything wrong with that). Put another way, it's twisted just enough that I enjoyed it thoroughly.

For those who don't already know, this one "stars" a psychologist, but it's not the author's popular Dr. Alex Delaware (although he does get a few mentions here). Instead, this stand-alone novel is about Dr. Grace Blades, a child prodigy who watched her parents die in a murder-suicide when she was just 5 years old. That, and living through a foster care system notorious for undesirables, left her with emotional scars that never healed even after she finally found loving adoptive parents. Thanks to her intelligence, drive and well-honed survival instincts, she accomplishes her goal of becoming a much sought-after psychologist capable of treating the most troubled of patients with success.

But then, she opens her office door to a man with whom she quite recently had a brief encounter in a parking deck. He really needs her help, but  Grace decides that because of that encounter, she must say no and turns him away. Shortly thereafter, the man is found murdered. Curious and feeling a little guilty for not agreeing to take him on as a patient (inasmuch as she's able to have feelings for anyone or anything), she temporarily shuts down her office and sets out on an investigation of her own. 

Once she ferrets out the almost-patient's real name, she realizes there's more to their connection than the parking deck meetup - a dark connection that requires her to bring to the forefront the childhood experiences she's compartmentalized in her mind over the years. Her sleuthing does seem to yield results faster and with less to go on than seems realistic for the average human, but after all, she's been way ahead of the intelligence game since she was a toddler.

As I said at the beginning, I really enjoyed this book. But I will add this: If you're expecting to "connect" with any of the seriously flawed characters here, it's likely you'll be disappointed. Not a single one - not even Grace herself - exhibits anything close to a warm and fuzzy personality. But IMHO, for the purpose of this story, that's exactly as it should be. 

The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman (Ballantine Books, August 2015); 384 pp.

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