A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman- A Book Review


From the creator of the acclaimed Alex Delaware series comes a tour de force standalone novel that illustrates perfectly why “Jonathan Kellerman has justly earned his reputation as a master of the psychological thriller” (People).

A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches—perhaps because she bears her own invisible scars: Only five years old when she witnessed her parents’ deaths in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace still has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.

Both Grace and her newest patient are stunned when they recognize each other from a recent encounter. Haunted by his bleak past, mild-mannered Andrew Toner is desperate for Grace’s renowned therapeutic expertise and more than willing to ignore their connection. And while Grace is tempted to explore his case, which seems to eerily echo her grim early years, she refuses—a decision she regrets when a homicide detective appears on her doorstep.

An evil she thought she’d outrun has reared its head again, but Grace fears that a police inquiry will expose her double life. Launching her own personal investigation leads her to a murderously manipulative foe, one whose warped craving for power forces Grace back into the chaos and madness she’d long ago fled.



The Murderer's DaughterThe Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman is a 2015 Random House publication. I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing one should know up front is that this is NOT an Alex Delaware mystery, although Alex does manage to have his name dropped once. This story is told from the personal perspective of a psychologist, Grace Blades.

Grace is a success, despite her rough start in life, but is still haunted by her past, and perhaps you might question her mental health on more than one occasion. But, then her past presents itself in what was at first an awkward and embarrassing situation, that quickly turns deadly and dangerous. As Grace searches for answers, her memories come to the forefront of her mind as she tells the story of how she became a murderer’s daughter and how she coped, and managed to survive to become a doctor, and why she has so much empathy for her patients. But, as her story unfolds, we see another side of Grace that is sad, unnerving, and chilling, but is also brave, and too smart for her own good…

I honestly had no preconceived notions when I started this book. I knew it was not a part of the long running Delaware series, and I had heard some positive buzz about it prior to its official release. However, I do confess to thinking this book would probably follow some kind of traditional mystery trope or formula, which is not the case.

This is an interesting way of presenting a crime and Grace’s role in the developments that took place in her young life and how it all comes back to haunt her in adulthood. Her character is certainly fascinating. She’s a lone wolf, takes uncalled for risk, is a bit eccentric and her mental health may not be on par with what people consider normal, but it is like a defense mechanism, and of course her attitude, feelings, and actions will leave you feeling conflicted.

In some ways she is like an anti-hero, but I found myself fascinated by her narrative, and could understand her at times, since I am an extreme introvert. Many things Grace craved, such as solitude and time to read, are things I will do anything to achieve. So, while some will not know how to take her, I actually liked her.

While this is certainly not a traditional crime story or mystery, there is action, some very tense moments, and a lot of dark subject matter. However, it’s almost like reading Grace’s personal journals or maybe like reading a memoir, and she makes a compelling character study and is quite analytical.

Once I finished the book, I was not sure about my feelings for it. But, the more I think about it, the more I see its merits and have concluded it was a good story, a little outside the box, but very thought provoking. Its unconventional style could throw Kellerman’s fans off a little bit, since this book is nothing at all like anything else he’s written, that I know of. But, I would urge people to approach the book with an open mind, and if you can do that, I think you will enjoy this book.





Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician. As a senior, at the age of 22, he won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction.

Like his fictional protagonist, Alex Delaware, Jonathan received at Ph.D. in psychology at the age of 24, with a specialty in the treatment of children. He served internships in clinical psychology and pediatric psychology at Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles and was a post-doctoral HEW Fellow in Psychology and Human Development at CHLA.

IN 1975, Jonathan was asked by the hospital to conduct research into the psychological effects of extreme isolation (plastic bubble units) on children with cancer, and to coordinate care for these kids and their families. The success of that venture led to the establishment, in 1977 of the Psychosocial Program, Division of Oncology, the first comprehensive approach to the emotional aspects of pediatric cancer anywhere in the world. Jonathan was asked to be founding director and, along with his team, published extensively in the area of behavioral medicine. Decades later, the program, under the tutelage of one of Jonathan's former students, continues to break ground.

Jonathan's first published book was a medical text, PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF CHILDHOOD CANCER, 1980. One year later, came a book for parents, HELPING THE FEARFUL CHILD.

In 1985, Jonathan's first novel, WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, was published to enormous critical and commercial success and became a New York Times bestseller. BOUGH was also produced as a t.v. movie and won the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher Awards for Best First Novel. Since then, Jonathan has published a best-selling crime novel every year, and occasionally, two a year. In addition, he has written and illustrated two books for children and a nonfiction volume on childhood violence, SAVAGE SPAWN (1999.) Though no longer active as a psychotherapist, he is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

Jonathan is married to bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman and they have four children.

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