When the Bough Breaks - Jonathan Kellerman

(Alex Delaware, #1)

A novel, set in Southern California, which combines detective fiction and psychological suspense. Alex Delaware, child psychologist, burned out and retired at 33, is consulted by the police and gets more and more obsessed with a case that endangers first his career and then his life.
I've decided to reread one of my favorite author's series for review purposes (and just plain fun). It's been years since I've touched this one, and it seems I've forgotten everything about it.

 “It was shaping up as a beautiful morning. The last thing I wanted to hear about was murder.”

It's the first book in the long-running series, showing Alex Delaware just six months after his retirement, his mind scarred from trauma. Trying to get things kickstarted for his old bud, Milo (a homosexual homicide detective), enlists in the aid of the child psychologist for an especially troubling case. After following through with the favor of hypnotizing a small child, Alex finds he can't let go and continues forth with the investigation on his own.

It's a great introduction to the series, giving one a good idea of the main characters at play, yet holding onto the usual awkward stumbles of a first book. It's simply not as engrossing as Kellerman's later stuff, although I dare you to be able to put this one down. It feels like the author is trying to find his footing, testing the waters in different areas to see what should make his main characters tick. One of the more notable standouts of this one was the absence of Milo during most of the investigation. Alex does nearly all the detective work without phone conversations with the big guy, which isn't as preferable. Milo's wit that comes later and the discoveries he feeds Alex (and vice versa) end up working so much better.

The mystery is as usual a complicated one, and Kellerman's typical knack for distracting the reader works its magic. He always includes so many characters it's almost easy to lose track of them, with various red herring trails and pasts always eventually tying in with the present. Here it's on the semi-unrealistic side as the past too conveniently ties in with this cases's answer (does this situation have to do with everything?). Too many people seem to be involved with the main uncovering, but I did enjoy the shocking revelation coaxed out from Milo on the last few pages.

If you're a fan of the series, you definitely should dive in to learn the history of Alex, how he met Milo and Robin, etc. Don't expect quite the same pizazz as other works, but be prepared to have to spare an afternoon or two to read this book with no distractions. If I could find another fault, it would be that the book could use some minor trimming to perhaps speed up the revelation and action. At least all the questions are answered in the end.

   Book Quotes:

“Assholes are like weeds, a bitch to get rid of and when you do another one grows back in its place.”

   Similar Reviews:

http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2012/10/queenpin-by-megan-abbott.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2014/03/big-money-by-jack-getze.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2013/09/big-numbers-by-jack-getze.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2007/09/over-edge-by-jonathan-kellerman.html http://thepaperbackstash.blogspot.com/2007/06/dr.html