Friday, November 11, 2011
Friday's Forgotten Books: DEVIL'S WALTZ (1993) by Jonathan Kellerman
I admit I've stopped reading Kellerman's Alex Delaware books. Why? Well, for a very specific reason: I loathe one of the characters and can take no more of her.
Yes, you guessed it - if you're familiar with the books - that guitar-maker Robin has defeated me. What a creature! I simply cannot stand her, much less can I stand Alex Delaware's constant forgiveness of her erratic behavior. The man's a psychologist, for goodness' sake!
Sad to say: I've lost respect for Alex.
When she came back yet again after dumping him for the umpteenth time - for no good reason than she just felt like it - I threw the book across the room and that, as they say, is that.
So why am I recommending one of Kellerman's books today?
Simple. This is an early book. Early on, Robin was tolerable - annoying but tolerable.
The first ten or so Alex Delaware books are excellent psychological thrillers set in L.A. where Delaware is a child psychologist and police consultant. His friend, Milo Sturgis, is the first openly gay cop on the L.A.P.D. (He is in a committed long-term relationship with a doctor.) It's a good friendship and I like that Alex isn't leery in any way of Milo's intentions - nor is Milo leery of Alex. They're two men who, believably, are friends.
At any rate, THE DEVIL'S WALTZ is one of the best Alex Delaware books and possibly one of the more disturbing.
The story begins when a doctor grows suspicious of a young patient's circumstances. Cassie Jones is a 21 month old toddler who is constantly showing up at the hospital's emergency room, brought in by her anxious parents. Cassie is suffereing from various illnesses which the medical staff can't seem to isolate.
Her parents are deeply concerned, naturally, and appear loving and helpful. But the doctor suspects that something is not quite right. He calls in child psychologist Alex Delaware to investigate.
Munchausen by proxy is a frightening condition that causes some parents to intentionally make a child ill. Of all mental disorders it is, perhaps, one of the most terrifying because the victim is usually a young, helpless child.
Alex begins to suspect that this is exactly what's at work on Cassie Jones. Who is responsible? It's thought that the mother is usually the cause, but fathers too can come under suspicion. Or could it be someone nearer to home? Someone on staff?
The mystery deepens when a hospital physician is brutally murdered - is there a connection?
Alex and Milo race against time to save Cassie's life and discover who, among this various cast of characters, is a monster.
This is a terrifying thriller with a deadly scheme at its heart.
I really do recommend the first ten or so Alex Delaware books. If you can stomach Robin's comings and goings, you might even like the rest of them. It's totally up to you.
For a complete list of Jonathan Kellerman's books, please use this link.
Kellerman is married to mystery novelist Faye Kellerman, in case the name seemed familiar.
Friday means Forgotten Books day around here. This is a weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at her blog, PATTINASE Don't forget to check in and see what other forgotten books other bloggers are recommending today.