Childhood trauma is the key to Silent Partner by Jonathan Kellerman

All too often, books marketed as psychological thrillers hinge on some obscure syndrome that an author has picked up from a conversation with a psychologist — or has simply imagined into existence. Jonathan Kellerman writes psychological thrillers grounded in his decades of professional experience as a child psychologist. And he sticks close to home: his hero, Alex Delaware, is also a child psychologist.

An out-of-the-ordinary investigator

Alex is not your average sleuth. Still in his 30s, he’s retired from his professional practice. He lives on income from investments. He owns a showcase home in the L.A. hills, drives a flashy car, and is in a romantic relationship with a woman named Robin who is widely sought after as a masterful guitar-maker. Occasionally, he takes on an assignment as an expert witness in a child custody case for a lawyer named Mal Worthy. Just as often, he finds himself caught up in complex criminal cases that involve his friend, a gay LAPD Detective Sergeant named Milo Sturgis. Though Milo enters into each investigation, it’s Alex who does the heavy lifting. This is the cast of continuing characters in Kellerman’s long-running series of thrillers.

Silent Partner (Alex Delaware #4) by Jonathan Kellerman @@@@ (4 out of 5)

Childhood trauma and dueling psychologists

In Silent Partner, the fourth novel in the series, Alex finds himself in conflict with Paul Kruse, a rival psychologist whom he considers a fraud and a pornographer. Unfortunately, the rival has just been named chair of the psychology department at the medical school where Alex teaches, because of his access to millions in donations. To compound the problem, Kruse is the faculty adviser to one of Alex’s former lovers, Sharon Ransom, whose body has just been found in her home, apparently a suicide.

As Alex undertakes an investigation to learn the circumstances surrounding Ransom’s death, he becomes progressively more involved in the intrigue surrounding Kruse’s appointment. Along the way, he uncovers tragic secrets in the lives not just of Sharon Ransom but of other key characters in the case.

Silent Partner is an outstanding psychological thriller, grounded in professional expertise, plotted with great skill, and imbued with suspense from beginning to end.

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