Book Review: Time Bomb by Jonathan Kellerman

October 5, 2018 Book Reviews 2

Book Review: Time Bomb by Jonathan Kellerman

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.

Time Bomb by Jonathan Kellerman
Genres: Psychological Thriller
Published by Ballantine Books on May 20, 2003
Pages: 496
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: When the Bough Breaks, Blood Test, Over the Edge

Fifth in the Alex Delaware psychological thriller series and revolving around a semi-retired child psychologist.

My Take

It’s all about exploitation and corruption. Using the kids to further their own political agendas. People promoted for who they know and what they know that may be destructive to another. The lack of consideration or care from public officials and law enforcement. It’s disgusting and fascinating. Disgusting for what these politicians and quacks will do to make a buck, to further their own agendas. Fascinating for Kellerman laying it out for us and how Alex discovers the truth. The stupidity of law enforcement refusing to share information with each other.

The truth about Dobbs’ need to be involved in “helping” the children is disgusting, as is Massengil’s involvement. That Dobbs was some shyster doing some scummy pandering. Sending out his assistants, claiming they’re doctors, doctors who see nothing wrong with interrupting someone’s session. Their idea of therapy is to blow in, do their spiel, and fly out. Badgering parents into sending their children in for paid therapy sessions. I do love how Alex took that Mendez down.

By using first person protagonist point-of-view, we get Alex’s perspective, and I gotta say I loved his verbal beatdowns on the politicians, Dobbs, his assessment of Holly’s father, and that REALLY tense scene at the end. Whew…

Kellerman definitely made me see Burden as a cheap narcissist, but Kellerman did not make me feel it, and it was definitely an area that should have been exploited. Oh, it’s not that Kellerman doesn’t have plenty of scenes that make me want to strike out at someone, but it was more intellectual than emotional. In Holly’s case, I really wanted that emotion. Not that I enjoy crying…

Matthew’s experience demonstrates how “dinner table conversation” can affect a child’s choices and outlooks. That PC switch from melting pot to “we are a salad bowl” sounds “Californian” to me. Interesting note about zip codes and mailing lists. Wonder if I can move to a place that doesn’t have zip codes and still be in the US? Also interesting, in a purely negative way, is all that rhetoric spouted about Zionists, Rozenvelt, Jewish brainwashing, ape cultures… Gimme a break. How stupid can people be?

This comment from Cecelia was pretty damned sad: “‘Actually,’ she said, ‘we can’t do nothing. We’re kids. If people wanna be mean to us all the time, they can.'” As was that comment on the plethora of Spanish street names in this so-very-white community that “street names are one thing; letting them marry your sister’s another.”

There is also Milo’s series-spanning problem of being gay and out of the closet in a cop shop. The crap that’s thrown at him is, yeah, disgusting.

A sad memory of a more revolutionary time when the government was scared and reactive, susceptible to inner plotting to achieve individual ends. Scary, ain’t it? That nothing has changed. Kellerman’s story was originally written in 1990, and it could be set in 2018. Of course, Terry’s own escape was in direct contrast to the other rebels who slipped back into their wealthy families’ bosoms.

The Story

By the time psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware reached the school, the damage was done: A sniper had opened fire on a crowded playground, but was gunned down before any children were hurt.

While the TV news crews feasted on the scene and Alex began his therapy sessions with the traumatized children, he couldn’t escape the sight of that slight teenager clutching an oversized rifle. Were they really a would-be assassin, or just another victim?

Intrigued by a request from the sniper’s father to conduct a “psychological autopsy” of his child, Alex begins to uncover a strange pattern of innocence, neglect, and loss. Then suddenly it is more than a pattern, it is a trail of blood. In the dead sniper’s past was a dark and vicious plot.

And in Alex Delaware’s future is the stuff of grown-up nightmares: the face of real human evil.

The Characters

Dr Alex Delaware is a child psychologist who keeps getting caught up in murder cases thanks to his friend Milo. The shoe is on the other foot with Alex’s ex-girlfriend, Robin, an artist building musical instruments. Seems she wants back in.

Westside PD Division
Detective Sergeant Milo Sturgis is a friend of Alex’s and has been promoted to D-Three, a supervising detective at his division in Robbery Homicide. Dr Rick Silverman is Milo’s partner who also does good words at the Free Clinic.

Detective Maurice Smith, who’s putting in his time until retirement, is with Southeast Division and investigated Novato’s shooting. Detective Mehan from the Pacific Division investigated Gruenberg’s disappearance. Officers Burdette and Ziegler are on the Massengil case with help from Martinez and Pelletier.

Anti-Terrorist Division (ATD)
Lieutenant Kenny Frisk is more interested in the sound bite.

Nathan Hale Elementary School had been…
…a school in Ocean Heights, a housing tract originally conceived for engineers and techs, that has falling enrollment (capacity for 900 with only 86 students) that is now upped by busing. The principal, Linda Overstreet, majored in psychology. She’s estranged from her daddy, a Texas Ranger, for an excellent reason. Jerk. Carla is her secretary. Miz Williams and the bigoted Esme Ferguson are some of the teachers. The students include Ramon, Tranh, Anna, Martha, and Cecelia. Pete and Mrs Buchanan‘s son, Matthew, is easily led.

Holly Lynn Burden, who had been a student at Nathan Hale, is described as slightly above retarded in a family of intellectually superior people. I’d say most of her problem came from her father Mahlon Burden, a control-obsessed widower self-employed in producing health and security catalogs and mailing lists, as New Frontiers Technology, Ltd — and who used to be with Intelligence in the army and then with the US Census Bureau. Gregory Graff, Esq, is an actor Burden hired to be photographed as Chief Consulting Officer of Burden’s company. Betty was the mathematician mother who died. Howard Burden is Holly’s brother. Gwen is his wife. Amy is their child. None of them see Mahlon. Dr George Goldberg helped Howard with his childhood issues.

Dinwiddie’s is the local grocers run by the wanna-be charitable Ted Dinwiddie. Isaac “Ike” Novato was a light-complected black who was bright and a straight arrow who worked at Dinwiddie’s and took pity on Holly. Sophie Gruenberg was his landlady, described by all as either a cossack or a commie.

The Beth Shalom Synagogue
David Sanders is the rabbi from Auckland, New Zealand, who teaches elementary school on weekdays; he’s also married with five children. Sophie Gruenberg is his landlady as well. We first meet him leading a discussion that segues into the participants’ — Mrs Cooper, Sy Morgenstern, Dora Sindowsky, and Rose Steinberg, — personal interests.

The Holocaust Center is…
…a Jewish museum. Judy Baumgartner is a senior researcher. Janie and Ike had worked there.

Wannsee was a conference that took place in Berlin during World War II. Werner Kaltenblud had been “president of the Poison Gas Club”. Fritz Kuhn had been the Bundesführer in America during World War II. Wannsee II is an “upgrade” that allies the radical left and right.

The Politicians
The quick-to-judge State Assemblyman Samuel Massengil is a loudmouthed jerk with a rep of law-and-order and a stance against pornography who is insisting on Dr Dobbs seeing the children. Hattie is his wife. Beth Bramble is his executive assistant. DiMarco is not one of Massengil’s fans.

The self-promoting Dr Lance L Dobbs is billed as an expert on childhood stress. “Dr” Patricia Mendez claims she’s a clinical psychologist when she’s actually a psychological assistant to Dobbs.

City Councilman Gordon Latch is a typical politician, helpful when it helps him. He had been a hippie back in the day and married Miranda Brundage, the only child of a movie tycoon, Fritz Brundage, a crypto-fascist. Darryl “Bud” Ahlward is his chief administrative assistant (and bodyguard).

The New Walden group at Bear Lodge, Idaho, was on…
…some land owned by Mountain Properties (land inherited by Randy from her dad). Members included Thomas Bruckner, a founding member of the Weathermen; Catherine Blanchard Lockerby was living with Bruckner; Antonio Rodriguez, a forger and burglar, and his wife, Teresa Santana, a suspected FALN cell leader had a son, Fidel; Mark Grossman was another Weathermen founder; Harold Cleveland “Big Skitch” Dupree was a murderer and armed robber; Terry Crevolin who went on to work in television; Norman Green is believed to be the leader; and, Melba Johnson-Green was Green’s wife while Malcolm Green was their two-year-old son. The second tier group included Harry and Debbie Delage, Ed Maher and Julie Bendix, Lyle Stokes, Gordy and Miranda Latch, and Jack Parducci.

Dayton Auhagen was a buckskin-clad trapper. Southern Idaho Regional FBI Agent-in-Charge Morrison Stowe has his own perspective. Nellie Barthell owned the Maybe Drop Inn Tavern and Truck Stop in Bear Lodge, Idaho.

FBI “Task Force
Special Agents Hoyt Henry Blanchard and Audrey Crisp pick up Alex.

San Antonio PD, Texas
Linda’s father had played the fiddle and encouraged Linda to enjoy music. Armando Bonilla Mondo was a rookie on the force who also played in a band, Magnum Four, which became Magnum Four and Lady Derringer, when Armando hooked up with Linda Overstreet. Rudy was another cop and band member.

Dr Ada Small is Alex’s own psychologist. Superior Court Judge Steve Hupp has requested Alex’s help on several child-custody cases. Julie is his wife. Brigitta is their Swedish au pair. Cheryl “Cheri” Jane Nuveen, a.k.a., Sherry Nuveen, Sherry Jackson, Cherry Jackson, Cherry Burgundy, Cherry Gomez, and actually Sheryl Jane Jackson, is a “recreational counselor” who works out of her house. Her son, André, has a great voice. Vagabond Books has a big section on the 1960s. Dejon “the Chiller” Jonson is an entertainer whose time was requested by Latch.

The Cover and Title

The cover is spare with its deep brown background. A pale thin banner in peach spans the top with an info blurb in brown. The author’s name is in a bright embossed orange. Just below that is a disembodied hand atop the handle of a detonator. The title is in a limey yellow to the left of the plunger handle. Beneath that at the very bottom is the series information in white.

The title refers to the hidden reasons behind it all, a Time Bomb that is about to go off.

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