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Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel    by Jonathan Kellerman order for
by Jonathan Kellerman
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Breakdown is the thirty-first (!) in Jonathan Kellerman's psychological mystery series starring psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware. The story opens with a consultation for Alex from a friend and colleague, Lou Sherman, who's psychiatrist to emotionally fragile TV soap actress Zelda Chase. Lou asks Alex to assess Zelda's fitness as a parent to her almost six-year-old son Ovid.

Alex is impressed by the boy, who seems well cared for and to be coping well with his mother's fragility. Five years later, Alex is called to assess Zelda who has gone very far downhill. She has aged greatly in appearance and has been living on the street. Alex is immediately concerned for Ovid and tries to locate him, with help from his old buddy, LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis. They use all their joint resources but there is no sign of the boy. Alex fears the worst, but doesn't stop looking.

Then Zelda leaves the shelter where Alex had arranged for her to stay, and ends up dead, poisoned. Suicide or accident? Still looking for Ovid, Alex contacts anyone he can find who worked with, or had contact with Zelda. He finds out that she was obsessed by the notion that her mother was a movie star who disappeared when Zelda was a child. Delusional? Alex knows that 'truth could be embedded in the jumble of skewed perception, illogic, and decimated judgment that plagues a disintegrating mind.' He wonders.

There are further deaths, with links to Zelda's. And suspicion zeroes in on someone 'of considerable assets', meaning that authorities must move carefully. But Alex's persistence does eventually yield results, uncovering a monstrous plot - and young Ovid's fate, in a delightfully twisty ending. It's always a pleasure to share Alex Delaware's perspective on life and, as always, I enjoyed Breakdown very much.

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