09 January 2006

Therapy, by Jonathan Kellerman

The Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman has long been one of my favorites. Therapy, (2004) is a recent addition to the series.

Obviously I've missed one or two before this novel, as Alex Delaware is no longer with his lady of many adventures, Robin, the guitar-maker. Robin does appear briefly in the role of "ex," however, as does the bulldog, and the indispensable Milo Sturgis is still prominent in this story. Delaware's new lady, Allison Gwynn, is an interesting replacement. She is a teacher, a hospice volunteer, and a psychotherapist.

Alex Delaware is a child psychologist that over the years has formed a working relationship with the LAPD. Milo Sturgis is his good friend, and a homicide detective with the force. Together they become involved in the mysterious murder of two young people found in a parked car in the driveway of an uninhabited house.

The mystery is as good as any of the others that I remember. And so is the psychology. Another important character in this book is "Dr. Mary Lou Koppel," a psychotherapist who has a popular radio call-in show. Koppel once treated the young man who was found murdered in the car. The identity of the young woman found with him remains a mystery until much later in the book.

There's a tremendous amount of intrigue and plot-twisting in this thoroughly enjoyable book, and the resolution of "whodunit" is quite satisfying. Even more skillfully done, however, is the portrayal of all the characters. The relationship between Delaware and Sturgis is the foundation of all these stories, and here it is continued and well utilized. There are many psychologists involved, and a lot of "shop talk" that sounds very authentic to my ears. (I work in the mental health treatment industry, although I am not a therapist, I'm a computer geek.)

Delaware and Sturgis are involved in a complicated plot that takes us as far away as South Africa and Rwanda. They encounter some really surprising characters, and uncover very high-level corruption. I love stuff like this, and used to read Robert Ludlum just because of these type of plot twists. I finally gave up on Robert, though. He just wrote too much for me, I guess, and I couldn't keep up.

Jonathan Kellerman has never disappointed me in the past, and his record is perfect with this novel as far as I am concerned.


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