Book review: The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman

Saturday, August 15, 2015 Permalink

I’ve long been a fan of Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware / Milo Sturgis series. However… after reading number 30 (Motive) recently I commented that I thought the characters were getting a bit stale. I found their lives to be less-interesting and I wondered if Kellerman was simply going through the motions.

So it was with great excitement I discovered the author was planning to release a new (stand-alone) novel, The Murderer’s Daughter.

The novel is again centred around a psychologist and this time it’s Grace Blades, a former-child prodigy who overcame a violent and troubled childhood. At 34yrs of age, Grace is relatively contented with her life as a psychologist, albeit with some interesting stress-relieving and risk-taking habits.

She’s about to go on holidays when we meet her and the last patient on her schedule is a new client and one who’d waited months to see her. Andrew Toner sought her out in light of a publication she’d written about the family members of murderers.

the murderers daughter

Toner is uncomfortable when he turns up for his appointment. He seemingly changes his mind about confiding in Grace part-way through the session and leaves abruptly.

It’s not until his body is found the next day Grace realises there was something familiar about him and traces him back to a brief encounter during her childhood. Realising he was killed to prevent him from talking, she knows her own life is in danger so goes on the offensive… requiring her to relive her own not-so-pleasant past.

Kellerman deftly alternates chapters between a young Grace and adult Grace. The segways introducing her childhood experiences are perfectly timed and readers are offered just enough information each time to understand the genesis of the tough and enigmatic adult Grace.

I very much enjoyed the backstories and they were really well written. I’m not sure why but I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of Kellerman’s storytelling, particularly as it related to Grace’s own parents. I found the childhood scenes gripping—possibly even more so than the murder mystery unfolding in the present.

Kellerman’s done a great job with Grace who’s smarter-than-smart and a survivor so we know she won’t go down without a fight.


I know other advance readers have pondered on whether this will become a series. I’d love to see more of Grace but am a tad unsure how Kellerman would deliver as complex and well-paced a book as this given the role the unfolding backstory plays. Although I guess, there’s still a lot we don’t know about Grace’s history.

If the story was to continue I think we’d need another key character… whether it be the detective we meet VERY briefly (possibly too briefly, but that’s a whole other side-note!) or the ageing former social worker-turned lawyer, Wayne. We’d need a little break from Grace and she (most certainly) could use a more prudent sidekick.

My verdict: A return to form!

The Murderer’s Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman, published by Penguin Random House (US) will be released on 18 August 2015*.

I received an electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Note, this book will be released in Australia via Hachette on 25 August 2015.

  • jenclair
    August 16, 2015

    I was pleasantly surprised to find a new protagonist from Kellerman, although I had not read much by him in recent years. Grace was an intriguing characters, and I relished the backstory. Hoping to see more of her in the future!

    • Debbish
      August 16, 2015

      Same… I really loved the childhood scenes. It was hard to say too much (in the review) about where she is and what she’s doing without giving stuff away!

  • Christy
    August 17, 2015

    It’s been so long since I’ve read Kellerman. I read the first five books in the Alex Delaware series, and one of his standalones, but that was many years ago. I can’t even believe the series has 30 books! I’ll have to read this. I kind of miss his books.

    • Debbish
      August 17, 2015

      I really loved the series once upon a time and I don’t mind it now, but there’s really nowhere for the characters to go I guess.

  • kimbacaffeinate
    August 17, 2015

    This sounds like one I would enjoy Debbie. Thank you for sharing.

  • kim
    July 10, 2016

    I have read all of j.kellermans novels for mucho years and find this book to be a real tragic writing.very hard to follow this likely hood or the process in which this story unfolds.
    I really have a hard time excepting that this is written by J.K.

    • Debbish
      July 10, 2016

      I’ve struggled a little with the latest in Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series Kim. I’ve long been a fan but for a little while there it felt really stale. The last couple have been okay but there’s just something missing for me. I liked the change in scenery offered here though.

  • marion
    September 20, 2016

    i found the detailed description of the rape iscene at the end of the book unnecessary and horrifying. we don’t need to give men more roadmaps on ways to commit violence against women. as a psychologist i would also think Kellerman might be more sensitive to how what he writes might affect and even traumatize his women readers.

    • Debbish
      September 20, 2016

      Oh Marion I’m afraid I can’t remember the detail of the book now, but I agree there’s never any need for excessive detail in violent scenes.

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