Title: Breakdown by Jonathan Kellerman
Alex Delaware Series Book 31
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman has been universally hailed as the master of psychological suspense, and the blockbuster new thriller featuring Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis confirms his status as today’s preeminent practitioner of saber-sharp storytelling.
Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware meets beautiful and emotionally fragile TV actress Zelda Chase when called upon to evaluate her five-year-old son, Ovid. Years later, Alex is unexpectedly reunited with Zelda when she is involuntarily committed after a bizarre psychotic episode. Shortly after Zelda’s release, an already sad situation turns tragic when she is discovered dead on the grounds of a palatial Bel Air estate. Having experienced more than enough of L.A.’s dark side to recognize the scent of evil, Alex turns to his friend LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis for help in finding out who ended Zelda’s broken life.
At the same time, Alex is caught up in another quest: the search for Zelda’s missing son. And when other victims vanish from the same upscale neighborhood, worry turns to terror.
As Alex struggles to piece together the brief rise and steep fall of a gorgeous, talented actress, he and Milo unveil shattered dreams, the corruption of a family, and a grotesque betrayal of innocence. With each devastating revelation and damning clue, Alex’s brilliant mind is challenged as never before—and his determination grows to see a killer caged and the truth set free.
Breakdown by Jonathan Kellerman is an exceptionally well-written and intriguing addition to the Alex Delaware series. In this outing, psychologist and police consultant Alex Delaware and police lieutenant Milo Sturgis stumble onto some very perplexing murders while at the same time searching for a missing young boy with ties to one of the victims.
Although Alex’s history with Zelda Chase and her young son Ovid was brief and occurred several years earlier, he agrees to evaluate her when contacted by a psychiatric outpatient facility. He is rather stunned to see the once beautiful actress’s mental state has greatly deteriorated and he grows very concerned about Ovid once he learns she has been living on the streets. Deeply medicated and mostly uncommunicative, Zelda is unable to answer questions about his whereabouts so Alex enlists Milo’s help in locating the missing boy. Knowing there might be a glimmer of truth in Zelda’s psychotic ravings, Alex tries to separate fact from fiction after her untimely death and he quickly becomes obsessed as he tries to uncover new details that he hopes will lead to Ovid.
Sadly, Zelda quickly ended up homeless after her sitcom was cancelled and finding anyone who knew her is like finding a needle in a haystack. With little to go on, Alex tracks down her former cast mates and while he does not learn much new information, their observations reiterate his suspicions she suffered from bipolar disorder. Quickly exhausting the scant clues he uncovers, he finally gives up actively investigating her life and death, but two perplexing disappearances in the same area where Zelda died revitalizes the investigation. Piecing together the connection between Zelda’s death and the two missing maids takes the case in a very surprising direction, and Alex and Milo continue to struggle to make sense of the evidence. Another seemingly unrelated death is too coincidental to ignore but finding the link between the murders is seemingly impossible.
Alex and Milo are both too stubborn to give up despite their lack of progress and initially, Alex does a lot of the legwork on the different cases. Utilizing some of Milo’s police contacts, he uncovers new information about a long ago disappearance, but he quickly hits yet another dead end. Once the truth about closely guarded family secrets is exposed, the pieces begin to fall into place, but Milo and Alex are prevented from searching for new evidence by bureaucratic red tape. Alex cleverly maneuvers around the legal obstacles that stand in their way and the case is eventually cracked wide open when they uncover the evidence they need to make arrests for the murders.
Breakdown is a riveting police procedural that is full of shocking twists and turns. The storyline is complex but very easy to follow and each new development brilliantly advances the novel toward its stunning conclusion. As with the previous novels in the Alex Delaware series, Jonathan Kellerman provides enough background information about Alex, Milo and their longstanding friendship/professional collaboration that newcomers to the series will have no trouble reading this latest installment (but I highly recommend the entire series). An outstanding crime drama that fans of the genre are to enjoy.