Monday, July 8, 2019

Blood Test

Blood Test
by Jonathan Kellerman
Recommended Ages: 14+

This is the second of going-on-35 novels featuring a child psychologist who burned out of clinical practice in his early 30s and, for a refreshing change of pace, turned toward helping an LAPD homicide detective solve crimes. This time, Dr. Alex Delaware and his cop friend Milo Sturgis are brought together when a former colleague of Alex's fears that a little boy who has cancer will die needlessly after his parents yank him out of treatment – and then the parents turn up murdered.

Hoping to find little Woody before his lymphoma passes the point of no return, Alex finds himself on a dangerous trail of clues that leads past, if not straight toward, a religious cult in the southern California desert, an experimental botanist's greenhouse of horrors, a teenage seductress' menagerie of twisted conquests, and more. Fear and loathing ain't half of it. The deeper Alex digs, the more icky evidence he unearths that he is just the kind of sleuth this case needs. We're talking all the ingredients, bar none, of a psychopath mixed up as no one but parents can mix them. And to make sure your cuticles are bleeding and your eyes are dry from lack of blinking by the climax of the tale, Alex goes past the point no one should go beyond without his cop partner, without his cop partner. If he didn't have 33 more mysteries to solve, you'd know for sure he was going to die this time.

Alex Delaware sees a lot of gritty stuff, but he is a refreshingly un-gritty guy. He doesn't have the worries in life that make other sleuths a psychological mess. He's independently well-off. He has a girlfriend who is doing so well at her line of work that he's just a little insecure about becoming a kept man, but he doesn't take it all that badly. He doesn't give a damn that his cop buddy is gay, and there isn't even a little bit of ambiguous sexual tension between them. Alex Delaware is as clean as a whistle, which provides a sharp contrast with the human dreck he has to cut through, case after case. If it doesn't get to him, maybe it won't get to you. But when it nearly does, as it seriously tries to do in this book, well ... that's entertainment!

The next book in this series, for me to go after in canon order, is Over the Edge. Other Alex Delaware titles include, but are not limited to, Devil's Waltz, Doctor Death, The Murder Book, Heartbreak Hotel, most recently The Wedding Guest and, due for release in February 2020, The Museum of Desire.

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