When the Bough Breaks Book Review

When the Bough Breaks Book Review

Title: When the Bough Breaks
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Published: 1985, Bantam
No. of Pages: 412
Cover Price: $8.99 US

Jonathan Kellerman introduces his widely popular character, Alex Delaware, in When the Bough Breaks, as well as Milo Sturgis, a gay homicide detective for the LAPD, and Delaware’s love interest, Robin Castagna. Alex, who is a well-known child psychologist (retired), is asked to consult on a case that Milo is investigating, and the relationship between Delaware and Sturgis is established.

Alex had previously been working at Western Pediatric Medical Center and established a program to help the victims of Stuart Hickle, who, it was discovered, had been molesting the children in his wife’s day care center. Alex’ work was highly acclaimed by both the hospital and the victims’ families, but Alex was exhausted and decided to retire even though he was only 32 years old. He had been home about 6 months, and was depressed, watching soap operas and doing a lot of nothing. One morning Alex gets a call from a reporter and when he goes to meet him at his office, finds the body of Stuart Hickle, dead of an apparent suicide, on the couch.

The case at hand involves Dr. Morton Handler, a psychiatrist with questionable ethics, and his girlfriend Elaine Gutierrez who are found brutally murdered. Melody Quinn, who is seven years old, and lives next door, may have seen the perpetrators. Alex wants to hypnotize Melody, but because she is on heavy medication (a blatant overdose according to experts) prescribed by a popular local pediatrician, Dr. Will Towle, he must get permission to temporarily lower her dose in order to do so. When Alex visits the arrogant and egotistical Dr. Towle, he is told to leave Melody’s medication alone. Alex takes Melody on an outing, she accidentally misses her medication, and becomes lucid enough to hypnotize. That evening, she experiences violent nightmares in the middle of the night, Alex is blamed, and of course, Dr. Towle complains and threatens to have his license taken away.

During the course of this fast-moving novel, Alex passes the time by investigating on his own and finds his inquiries are not welcome; he is threatened multiple times, and escapes several attempts on his life. The book is well-written, concise, and interesting. It’s obvious the author knows his subject, since he is a child psychologist himself, and uses his knowledge to create fairly believable novels of psychological suspense. Alex Delaware is a likeable character - too likable actually (is he for real?), and since he often works for free and investigates on his own because he cares about the children, he is brought more to the level of a saint rather than a real person. Nonetheless, it's nice to think that there are actually good people out there, so whether he is a believable character or not, it nice to read about him. It's also a little far-fetched to think that a psychologist would be brought into investigations and have access to the police files.

Although the Alex Delaware series of books don’t need to be read in order, it’s a good idea to read When the Bough Breaks first just to get a feel for the characters. Kellerman’s books are not graphically violent for the most part, and contain very little, if any profanity and sex. Like this novel, they are easy, quick reads and are highly recommended for psychological thriller fans.

This book was purchased with personal funds and no promotion of the book was solicited by the author or publisher.

This book may be purchased at Amazon: When the Bough Breaks

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