Release Date: August 18th, 2015
Synopsis: A brilliant, deeply dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches–perhaps because she bears invisible scars from her own childhood. But even as an adult with an accomplished professional life, Grace has a dark, secret side. When her two worlds shockingly converge, Grace’s harrowing past returns with a vengeance.
An evil she thought she’d outrun has reared it’s ugly head again, but Grace fears a police inquiry will expose her double life. Launching her own 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.
I’ve been a fan of Jonathan Kellerman’s since he published his first Alex Delaware book When the Bough Breaks (1985). For some reason though I dropped the series, so this is the first book by him I’ve read in several years. And I’m so happy I did, because The Murderer’s Daughter has reminded me why I fell in love with his writing all those years ago.
This is a standalone novel so you need not have read any of the previous books although Alex Delaware does make a brief appearance. Instead it focuses on Dr. Grace Blades, a woman who on the surface looks to have everything, but underneath her cool unflappable exterior lies a murky mess. Being a survivor of a traumatic childhood has made her a renowned psychologist, with clients who fly halfway around the country to see her. Yet her colleages and clients would be shocked at what she does during her off hours. Eschewing close relationships, she enjoys wearing disguises and embarking on numerous one night stands. She’s shocked when her latest encounter shows up in her office as a patient. Shortly after, he’s murdered, and from their brief encounter Grace is convinced that he’s not the victim of a random mugging. As she carries out her own personal investigation she discovers that he’s directly tied to her childhood and an evil she thought she had put behind her. Because of her fear that her double life will be exposed if she’s truthful with the police, she decides to play Nancy Drew and winds up facing a psychopath alone.
Grace is one of the most intriguing and complex characters I’ve read about in a long time although I was initially repulsed by her. She’s cold, calculating, and manipulative. She trusts no one, and as a result is completely alone, not that she minds. I found myself wondering more than once if she’s actually sociopathic. Once I started reading her backstory which is told through alternating chapters with the present day events, I understood her much more thoroughly, and began to emphasize with her, even if I didn’t always agree with her actions.
This all makes for a fascinating story which brings together two mysteries: what created this brilliant, enigmatic woman with such intimacy issues that she only finds pleasure in nameless and faceless sexual encounters with strangers, and who murdered Grace’s latest conquest/patient and why are they now after her? Except for a few unbelievable eyebrow raising moments, this makes for an exciting read. The only real downside for me is that with all the suspenseful build-up, I found the actual confrontation between Grace and her nemesis to be rather anticlimactic. Otherwise, I think that Jonathan Kellerman (who’s a psychologist himself), has once again proven himself to be a master at delving into people’s psyches and exploring their dark sides. I’m hoping this is just the first book about Grace Blades because I’d really enjoy learning even more about her.