Petalfrog’s #CBR5 Review #4: Survival of the Fittest by Jonathan Kellerman

Survival of the Fittest is the thirteenth in the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman, released in 1998. It’s certainly lucky number thirteen, as I think this is one of the strongest books in the series.

The novel follows two primary plot points. The first involves the random suicide of an L.A. police officer. The police officer’s sister hires Alex as her therapist to try and make sense of her brother’s death. The second plot point follows the investigation of the brutal murder of an Israeli diplomat’s teen daughter. The girl was partially blind and had of low IQ. Milo Sturgis is called in to investigate this, now, cold case, and calls on Alex’s help. As they delve deeper into the case, it becomes apparent that eugenics is playing some role in what’s going on.

I clearly love the Alex Delaware series, but I really thought this was a great one. It was very dark in tone, with Alex put in a position of moral ambiguity as he gets more entrenched in the case. It also was very suspenseful, and Alex was in palatable danger in this one. One nice thing about the Delaware series is that Milo and Alex are not in danger in every single case, as happens in most other murder-mystery thrillers. Sometimes the focus is just on the investigation. However, this time, there is a clear and present danger going on, and I thought it was a great risk to take by Kellerman and worked out really well. The many secondary characters are, in typical Kellerman fashion, interesting and engaging. The mystery itself is also very exciting and I felt drawn in throughout the whole novel. Overall, one of my favorite Alex Delaware books.

Read more reviews (including my CBR4) at my blog!

Petalfrog’s #CBR5 Review #1: Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman

Time to start the Cannonball Read again! I must apologize – I’m on a Jonathan Kellerman splurge these days, since his books are available to borrow on Kindle from the local library (if you have a Kindle, you definitely want to check out this option with your local library, it saves loads of money). I’ll try to say more in my reviews than “good mystery, love Milo,” and I promise to intersperse it with other stuff.

Mystery is the 26th novel in the Alex Delaware series and was published in 2011. In Mystery, clinical psychologist Alex and his long-time girlfriend Robyn attend the closing night of one of their favorite L.A. haunts. There they observe a beautiful young woman, seemingly stood up by her date. Hours later, Alex is called to the scene of a brutal murder by his best friend, Lt. Milo Sturgis, and is shocked to discover that the victim is the woman from earlier in the evening. To solve this murder, Alex and Milo must first figure out who this mystery woman is.

This was another solid mystery (sorry!), with a few red herrings and some pretty twisted family dynamics making for a good read. Milo and Alex are not really in any danger in this one, so the story is much more about following the clues and seeing where the old-fashioned detective work takes them. As usual, Kellerman does a great job of developing his characters. Milo, Alex, and Robyn have been developed so extensively over the last 27 years (eek) that Kellerman must focus his characterization on secondary and tertiary characters. For me, this makes his novels a much more enjoyable read. I hate when characters are introduced with little to no purpose beyond plot movement, and Kellerman never falls into this trap. I think it’s this skill that keeps the Delaware series fresh and interesting, and why I can read the books all in a row without getting bored. Also, in this novel, Kellerman really uses the Los Angeles setting to his best advantage which was great.

Overall, an enjoyable mystery. Love Milo 🙂

Happy New Year all and check out my blog here for my 2012 reviews!