cover image Heartbreak Hotel: An Alex Delaware Novel

Heartbreak Hotel: An Alex Delaware Novel

Jonathan Kellerman. Ballantine, $28.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-345-54143-7

L.A. psychologist Alex Delaware specializes in “evaluating the mental health of injured, neglected, or traumatized children,” but in Edgar-winner Kellerman’s so-so 32nd series entry (after 2016’s Breakdown) he accepts the invitation of 99-year-old Thalia Mars, a retired accountant, to meet her at the Aventura, the hotel where she lives on Sunset Boulevard. The charming Thalia asks Alex to share with her “the current psychological wisdom with regard to guilt” without explaining why she’s interested in this topic. Tired, she ends their interview after a short while, but Alex agrees to visit her the following day to continue the discussion. On returning to the Aventura, he learns to his sorrow that Thalia has died, just weeks before her 100th birthday. Alex is angered when an alert paramedic finds evidence that Thalia didn’t die of natural causes. Alex and his friend on the LAPD, Milo Sturgis, look into Thalia’s past in an effort to identity the killer and the motive. The psychological insights Alex typically displays are few and barely relevant to the inquiry or its solution. (Feb.)