Dr. Alex Delaware is still on a high from having successfully solved a series of interlocking mysteries from "As The Bough Breaks." In this installment, set in 1986, Alex must beat the clock to save a 5-year-old boy with treatable cancer.
The boy, Heywood "Woody" Swope appears to be the one normal foil for his reclusive, fruit obsessed parents and hostile 20-year-old sister, Nona. Named for an apple, Annona Blossom Swope is described in almost feral terms.
Matters come to a painful head when Woody is kidnapped from the hospital. The boy's parents and sister also disappear, and Dr. Alex Delaware is immediately in pursuit of this mysterious family.
Dr. Delaware and his long time friend, Officer Milo Sturgis travel down some very seedy and unsavory roads in Southern California. A cult called the Touch is high on the list of suspects. Members of the cult would visit Woody's family in the hospital and were bringing fresh, organic fruits. A doctor who sympathized with the Touch was high on the list of suspects as were a disgruntled male model/escort who worked with Nona at a messenger/escort service.
The clever detective work and the chapters detailing Dr. Delaware's expose of the Touch and their compound, a converted monastery in the fictitious border town of La Vista make for very compelling reading. The theme of bearing fruit is rampant throughout the book and is very effectively used. Dr. Delaware's live in girlfriend, the selfish and tiresome Robin is barely mentioned in this story, which is also good. I never cared for her.
Questions still abound. Where are the Swopes? And what of Woody? How was the Touch involved? And what of the doctors who worked at the hospital where Woody was being treated? A well crafted mystery that will certainly leave a lasting impression.
on October 18, 2001
You immediately realize that this is an early Delaware novel. It seems as if Kellerman was still practicing then. He did not create the convincing characters we can find in his later novels when he wrote this book. And the plot is a little heavy, too. The climax is somewhat forced and improbable and comes before the actual ending, which is too transparent and obvious. We know exactly what is coming. Nevertheless, the book is quite a good read, a simple thriller, not too demanding, and it cannot cope with later novels by Kellerman.
on November 26, 2002
Kellerman is a master of mystery and suspense; he just cannot write a bad book!!!
In this edition of the series, it is a case psychologist Dr Alex Delaware has never encountered before. Five year old Woody Swope is sick, but that is not the REAL problem.
It is his parents.
They refuse to any treatment that could save their child.
Alex embarks on a mission to convince the Swope's-only to discover they have boplted from the hospital-and taken their ill son.
Worse, the motel room where they were staying is empty , except for a shocking bloodstain.
The Swopes and their ill son have disappeared into the corrupt shadows of the city.
Now Alex and his homicide investigator friend Milo have no choice but to pursue them. They have entered a realm where drugs, fantasies, and sex are for sale.
Kellerman has scored another touchdown with this book and those that enjoy suspense with a twist, enter Kellerman's world if u dare.
on September 5, 1999
I'VE READ SEVERAL OF KELLERMAN'S ALEX DELAWARE NOVELS AND HAVE NOT BEEN DISAPPOINTED YET. BLOOD TEST IS NO EXCEPTION. IT GRABS YOUR ATTENTION FROM THE START AND IS DIFFICULT TO PUT DOWN. I DIDN'T WANT IT TO END.
on May 12, 2009
Child abuse, juvenile cancer, drugs, prostitution, and a quasi-religious cult built on perverse notions of sexual liberation make up the plot of Jonathan Kellerman's second novel, Blood Test. Despite the dark subject matter, this second book to feature child psychologist turned part-time criminal investigator Alex Delaware is as well written and enjoyable as the first.
When Alex Delaware agrees to assist a former colleague in convincing an angry family not to remove their cancer-stricken child from hospital care, he quickly discovers that all is not as it appears. When the patient disappears, Alex is quickly swept up in a complex web of conspiracy and deceit ultimately leading to a showdown with a cult guru and a fight to the death with an ax-wielding maniac.
If the plot sounds a tad far-flung, that's because it is. Yet Kellerman's deft first-person narrative style and tight prose tie the various story threads together into a suspense-filled and surprisingly emotional tale about the misuse of power and the unintended effects of so-called victimless crimes. Basically, though the author probably didn't intend this, it's a story about the far-reaching consequences of sin.
As a psychological thriller, Blood Test succeeds. It is exciting and creepy and satisfying. Readers should be aware, however, that it contains rather graphic depictions of the evil acts carried out by some of the characters, including drug use, prostitution, and physical and emotional abuse, along with one very disturbing description of a sex ritual. It should also be noted that Alex Delaware's best friend is gay, though the author primarily uses this very likeable character not to promote a homosexual lifestyle but as a means of exploring prejudice and social injustice.
Though it not a "issue book," Blood Test certainly tackles several issues that are if anything more prevalent today than when the book was written over two decades ago. The disturbing elements of the story may offend some readers, and certainly caution should be exercised in reading, but Alex Delaware's heroism and Kellerman's eminently readable writing make this book worthwhile for those who are able to stomach some of the nastier parts and grasp the story's message that good--at least "good" as seen from a purely secular perspective--ultimately triumphs over evil.
on May 9, 2016
Alex Delaware is a child psychologist, and obviously a very good one. At the age of 35, he’s also independently wealthy as a result of investments that paid off well that has allowed him to retire from his practice. Part-time, he works as a consultant to the LAPD. And, by the way, he’s also devilishly good-looking and a karate master. So what’s not to like? Well, it turns out that Alex also has a terrible habit for sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong and stupidly risking his life. You even end up feeling sorry for the guy!
Child psychology can get you into trouble
In Jonathan Kellerman’s Blood Test, the second in his Alex Delaware series, Alex is confronted with not just one but two troubling cases virtually at the outset. He has just testified in court to support a young woman seeking a divorce from a violent husband who is (to my layman’s eyes, at least) clinically insane. No sooner does he leave the courthouse, than the husband attacks him physically. Karate moves save Alex, allowing him to flee with only a black eye. Then, still under the threat of retaliation by the husband, he is called to the pediatric oncology ward at a hospital where he previously practiced to lend a hand to support the oncologist treating a very sick little boy. The boy’s parents won’t allow the recommended chemotherapy, and the excitable oncologist is on the verge of violence.
Not the usual set-up for a detective novel, eh? Yes, Blood Test is a detective novel. Even though Alex is the principal investigator and is not himself a detective, he works with the brilliant LAPD homicide detective Mike Sturgis. Call this story a thriller: it’s long on suspense and full of surprises.
As the story unfolds, Alex’s expertise in child psychology proves crucial again and again. Kellerman is himself a psychologist, so he knows whereof he writes. He appears to be very, very good at his profession, if the scenes he depicts in his writing are any indication.
About the author
Jonathan Kellerman has written 31 books featuring Alex Delaware and another 17 in other series or as standalone novels. He has also written five nonfiction books about subjects as diverse as childhood cancer and vintage guitars. (Both topics figure in Blood Test.) He has won awards both for his writing and for his work in psychology.
on May 28, 2015
I like Alex Delaware novels, and have read a number of them. This is the earliest in the series I have read, and I was surprised at how bad it was. There were a lot of details that were implausible or impossible (would a town have a sheriff, and would that sheriff decide to "let someone go with a fine" rather than serve jail time?). Beyond that, the plot was a bit of a mess. The whole thing with the weird religious group seemed very contrived, as did everything around the messenger service and those who worked there.
Since it's old, it also feels dated in ways that are somewhat interesting--it's not too many years ago that communication from any location was not an instantaneous thing or that people used things like manual typewriters and carbon paper.
on March 19, 2000
This was my second Kellerman novel. I bought it after reading the more recent Billy Straight, which I really enjoyed. And I was disappointed. It's an okay story, Kellerman does a good job of creating suspense, but I still felt that this was vastly inferior to Billy Straight. The characters aren't nearly as interesting, and there seem to be a lot of subplots that are pointless and don't really go anywhere. And the "Hollywood blockbuster" ending borders on the ridiculous. It's still an okay read and I'll probably buy another Kellerman book. But read Billy Straight instead if you want more interesting characters and a less far-fetched plot.
on April 1, 2015
My first introduction to Mr. Kellerman was a more recent book he wrote, Mystery and I loved it. Several people had told me they enjoyed his early works more so I decided to try his Book #2 in the series. While interesting with some twists I was very disappointed in this book. I felt there was way too much explicit sexual content that was not really needed to move the story along. It was almost as if he needed to fill the pages so he just added lots of sex that rambled on and went no where. Being a more mature reader, I don't really enjoy that kind of writing and feel he could have made the same point without telling every graphic detail. The concept of the story was a good one, just not told very well.
I am glad to see, as with most writers, he has matured and his writing is much better, at least in the one I read prior to this one.
on April 10, 2016
Prof.Delaware is his usual genial self, pacing through pages of incest, nymphomania, cult sex, child prostitution, rape, cocaine, murders, court appearances, family counseling, helicopters, SWAT teams, secret recordings, secret passages, secret journals, breaking and entering, beatings, arson and horticultural experiments with succulents and poisons - and through it all he doesn't raise a sweat because it's just another day at the office for the psychologist who chooses the Bel Air Hotel when he wants to hide out. That's the problem with this character... Delaware is so uninvolved and unattached to reality that he can watch the nymphomaniac teenaged anti-heroine, stunningly beautiful and ever ready for action, be railroaded by the cops for a clear case of self defense, when she saved Delaware's life. It's a strange end to the novel and remains unexplained, I guess because Delaware is just too cool to be bothered. Maybe his readers should be too.