Monday, August 10, 2015
The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman
The Murderer's Daughter
I have read quite a few of Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels over the years and enjoyed them. The Murderer's Daughter, however, is either a stand-alone or the first in a new series.
Grace Blades is a survivor in every sense of the word. Her first years teach her not to count on her parents who are barely cognizant of her presence. When a domestic quarrel turns deadly when Grace is five, she must learn to adapt and find a way to get along in various foster situations. Grace, a remarkably gifted child, learns to cope and eventually to thrive when she finally lands in the safety net provided by a loving couple.
Grace's brilliance carries her far and fast, and she has built a solid reputation as a psychologist who is unusually successful with patients who have endured major physical or emotional trauma. Then a chance encounter at an upscale hotel bar begins a life-threatening situation rooted in events from the past.
The story shifts back and forth between past and present, giving plenty of background about the circumstances of Grace's childhood and adolescence. The alternating timelines reveal much about the way Grace lives in the present. She is a strong, independent character, but there is always a sense of isolation and wariness. As good as she is with her patients, her private life is mostly a solitary one.
The pace is better in the chapters concerning her past; the chapters in the present are mostly concerned with the research she is doing as she attempts to nail the bad guy.
This novel feels different from previous Kellerman novels, lacking the lurid violence of the Delaware series, and although Alex Delaware receives a couple of mentions, he never becomes involved in the novel.
Grace reminds me of a better adjusted Kathy Mallory (from the Mallory series by Carol O'Connell; if you are familiar with that series, you might enjoy this article--"Watching Mallory Grow a Soul"). Grace Blade could never have been described as a "baby sociopath" as Mallory was as a child, but both had horrific childhood events to overcome, both are brilliant women, and while both Grace and Mallory have achieved success in their careers, both still deal with emotional and social consequences from their pasts.
This is not an action driven novel, yet I never lost interest or felt that the novel dragged. The end, however, was rushed and somehow...didn't feel quite right. That being said, I found myself immersed in this novel from the beginning and hope for more of Dr. Grace Blades. If Alex Delaware isn't a part of future novels, so be it, but maybe Milo Sturgis could lend a hand.
Read in July. Blog review scheduled for Aug. 10, 2015.
Mystery/Psychological. Aug. 18, 2015. Print version: 384 pages.