I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Blood Test by Jonathan Kellerman
Published by Scribner on July 6, 2010
Source: the library
Buy on Amazon
Also by this author: When the Bough Breaks, Over the Edge, Time Bomb
Second in the Alex Delaware thriller series based in Los Angeles and revolving around a child psychologist and Milo Sturgis, a detective friend.
This is a much smoother story — with the perspective from Alex’s first person protagonist point-of-view. And by smoother, I mean that Alex’s life has so few bumps. Sure, someone is trying to kill him…mmm, I do sound jaded, don’t I? The story’s primary focus is on the Blood Test-specific characters while feeding us dribs and drabs on other core characters including side bits about Alex’s life as it is now and bits of his back story.
It’s a horrendous scenario that Kellerman twists in the last half, taking us from one perspective on faith-based healing by fearful people to a condemning truth that will make you sick.
Melendez-Lynch makes a useful observation about Alex being both scientist and humanist, a judgment based on Alex’s work in an early study on how to prevent psychological damage to children in isolation chambers, which led to the start of Alex’s “fame”. I am curious as to how closely Alex’s “life” and character mirrors Kellerman’s?
There’s a theme in here all right: nutjobs ‘r us. Between Raoul, Valacroix, Moody, Noble, Houten, and Swope…oh, boy. That Raoul needs to step back and take a, well, lots of deep breaths.
Robin doesn’t appear much in here, as she has a new, lucrative angle looming. Milo is not moaning about his improved standard of living, but he is comparing his lot with women who make less than their significant others. As for Ezra Maimon, I adored him. His manner and intellect sent me into a swoon…sigh… I sure hope he’ll appear again, as he was a bright spot.
Lord, that description of Swope’s botanic monstrosities sounds like plants that the Addams family would love. Yuck! Roses covered in moist fur with a rancid smell…?? Garland’s thoughts on his abominations were that they were “evidence of the Creator’s essential hatefulness”. Sure puts the lie to Noble’s statement, lol. An odd bit of foreshadowing that I missed. As for Garland’s “cultivation” of Annona zingiber…jesus christ… It does lead to the truth behind Nona’s “trip” that summer.
Woody has a chance. His cancer is curable, if his parents consent to his treatment. Until they kidnap the boy and run, leaving behind their nympho daughter.
When his parents are found dead, the only leads are the boy’s older sister and a holistic-meditative cult called The Touch based in an old monastery in a small town near the Mexican border.
It’s a search that will unearth deep, dark secrets of men run mad, an angry cult leader, and those attempts to assassinate Alex.
Dr Alexander Delaware (PhD) is a child psychologist who burnt out (When the Bough Breaks, 1) and plays guitar. He still takes the occasional case — if it interests him. Or that Milo can talk him into. Robin Castagna is his girlfriend who crafts exquisite guitars.
Homicide Detective Milo Sturgis is Alex’s burly gay detective friend. Detective Delano Hardy is Milo’s occasional work partner and a guitarist who gigs after hours with an R&B group; Dr Rick Silverman (he works ER at Cedars) is Milo’s significant other. Officer Brian Fierro takes Beverly home. Officer Fordebrand has the worst breath ever.
Agent Siegel is with the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. Agent Severin Fleming is Siegel’s boss.
Western Pediatric Medical Center is…
…in Hollywood where Alex used to work. Dr Raoul Melendez-Lynch, a Cuban oncologist, has been married four times — he’s a workaholic. The Laminar Airflow Unit is a four-module suite of rooms in Oncology with a plastic bubble for the patient to maintain germ-free isolation. Dr Helen Holroyd is the post-doc with whom Raoul is collaborating on a study. I think Boorstin is the head of the psychology department and quite possibly has a death phobia. Dr August “Augie” Valcroix is the clinical Fellow interested in alternative medicines whose ethics are very questionable. Ellen Beckwith is a nurse in Oncology. Beverly Lucas is a social worker.
The Adam and Eve Messenger Service is…
…a thinly disguised hooker service that delivers party gags, drugs, and any extras someone might want. The owner is Jan Rambo whose daddy is in the mob. Leon is her loyal Jamaican bodyguard, but not too bright. Douglas Carmichael is one of Jan’s employees, and he used to work as a stripper at Lancelot’s until he was busted. His father owns Carmichael Oil.
La Vista, California, is…
…where the five-year-old Heywood “Woody” Swope is from; he has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Emma Swope seems to be a mouse of a woman. Her husband, Garland Swope, is the “King” of his castle and a misogynistic nutjob horticulturist. The oversexed Annona “Nona” Blossom Swope is Woody’s nineteen-year-old sister. Woody’s friends include Jared, Michael, and Kevin.
Sheriff Raymond Houten is in charge of the small department. His wife, Maria, and his daughter, Marla, died a few years apart. Walt Bragdon is one of his few deputies. Zack Piersall is a mechanic who knows how to fix foreign cars. Ezra Maimon used to be a lawyer, and now he owns a rare fruit nursery.
…members of a religious sect focused on self-sustenance in La Vista. Noble Matthias is the head guru; he used to be “Stormin'”Norman Matthews, a high-powered super-aggressive divorce lawyer in Beverly Hills. Cult members include Baron, a.k.a., Barry Graffius, who was a loudmouthed, pretentious, rich snot a year behind Alex in graduate school; Delilah, a.k.a., Desiree Layne, the queen of budget noir films pre-1951; and, Maria.
Darlene Moody is desperate for a divorce and custody of their two children: nine-year-old Ricky and three-year-old April. Carlton Conley, a carpenter for Aurora Studios and Darlene’s boyfriend, had been a friend of Richard’s. Mal Worthy of Trenton, Worthy & La Rosa is her lawyer. Richard Moody is a depressed nutjob contesting the divorce. Elridge Durkin is Moody’s lawyer. Diane Severe is the judge who understands children. Dr Lawrence Daschoff is the other expert psychologist.
Kathy is one of the operators at Alex’s answering service. Jaroslav is Alex’s martial arts instructor. Fahrizbadeh is a clerk at the Sea Breeze Motel. The Unicorn is a mirrored bar with horrible food. Professor Seth Fiacre teaches at UCLA and is a psychologist who has been studying cults for years. Anita’s Café is an excellent vegetarian restaurant in Oceanside. Prince “Stinky” is Saudi Arabian and accused of rape-murders.
Melendez-Lynch’s ex-wives include Nina, who is a concert cellist, and Paula. His eleven children include Jorgé, his second oldest who’s going to medical school. José had been an old family servant who would grind their coffee beans. Raoul’s scum-sucking pig of a cousin is Ernesto, known to us as Ché Guevara.
The Cover and Title
The cover has a white background with red blood spatter between the author’s name in an embossed and black-shadowed light royal blue centered at the top and the title in an embossed purple left aligned at the bottom. Several info blurbs and the series information are in black.
The title is what could have proved the truth, a Blood Test.