Aditya's Reviews > When the Bough Breaks

When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman
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An entertaining beach read, When the Bough Breaks netted Kellerman an Edgar award for best debut novel and spawned a series still that's still commercially viable after three plus decades. The writing is smooth and inoffensive without ever being great and I can see why Kellerman became successful. He writes lucidly, keeps the pace moving with a nice balance of intrigue, humor and action. However there is no way the protagonist - a retired child psychologist, Alex Delaware can keep being injected in plots like this one without it feeling very forced.

Delaware is called in as a consultant by his gay cop friend Milo to help him with an underage witness. Her hypnosis reveals a rabbit hole of multiple murders and a cabal of child molesters. Delaware is a perfectionist looking for a challenge and a dedicated doctor so he selects the most rational course of action - solve the murders single handedly by becoming a sort of mashup of Holmes and Bond. (My doctor doesn't even pick up calls on Sunday😭).

Delaware has more plot armor than this one has plot. He is brave, handsome, intelligent, resourceful, selfless and most importantly one dimensional. The villains are on the other end of the scale - perverted, probably inbred, despicable, arrogant kiddy fiddlers. There is some delicious irony that Kellerman doesn't even realize. On one occasion Delaware finds notes of a deceased shrink calling his patients condescending names like 'loser'. Delaware is indignant, summarizes said shrink is a psychopath. Two chapters later he categorizes grieving family members as 'slob' and 'super kid'.

I liked Delaware in spite of him having the depth of a cardboard. The first three fourth when he uses a lot of pop psychology and the book is written as a police procedural is pretty good. The last one fourth turns into an action movie with Delaware suddenly getting involved in drawn out high speed chases and torture scenes. Basically Kellerman posits before Netflix tamed bored intellectuals, they probably moonlighted as soldiers of fortune every time they ran out of interesting things to do.

When the Bough Breaks could have been fifty pages shorter, Delaware has a token love interest who was better left on the editing floor. But in spite of it all I will probably pick up the next one. It will probably never be a series that I will follow fastidiously but it's good for what it is - trashy fun. And it can even get better if Kellerman adds just a bit more depth to his characters. Rating - 3/5
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Reading Progress

July 17, 2019 – Started Reading
July 19, 2019 – Shelved
July 19, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* Great review Aditya. I love your comment about checking your brain in at the door. I must admit to having gone off Kellerman recently. 😍📚


Aditya Thanks Sandy, I heard the recent entries are not that good but the initial ones remain entertaining.


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