cover image The Ghost Orchid: An Alex Delaware Novel

The Ghost Orchid: An Alex Delaware Novel

Jonathan Kellerman. Ballantine, $30 (304p) ISBN 978-0-593-49767-8

Kellerman’s robust latest procedural featuring psychologist Alex Delaware and his best friend, L.A. homicide detective Milo Sturgis (after Unnatural History), couples a deceptively complex central mystery with surprisingly nuanced character development. After Delaware was nearly crushed to death by a violent criminal while he assisted Sturgis on a previous case, the pair’s relationship has been tense. Now, however, they take steps toward repairing the partnership when Sturgis asks Delaware to consult on a double murder. The naked bodies of Giovanni Aggiunta, whose family operates a luxury men’s shoe business in L.A., and Meagin March, the married neighbor he was having an affair with, have been found shot to death next to Aggiunta’s pool. What at first looks like an open-and-shut case of revenge by Meagin’s husband quickly takes on eyebrow-raising new dimensions when Sturgis and Delaware discover strange holes in her backstory that suggest she may have been more than the wife next door. Kellerman delivers clever twists alongside the lived-in banter between his leads that sets this series apart. It’s both a treat for longtime fans and a great entry point for newcomers. (Feb.)