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The Ghost Orchid

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Kellerman’s relaxed narratives have a way of weaving complexity into fine fabric and The Ghost Orchid is his finest novel yet. It lulls, intrigues, drags your imagination along on a bumpy road to discovering the tangled pathways from death to the lives that led the victims there. This novel empathically contrasts a truly dysfunctional family dynamic with a more healthy dysfunctional family in a way that will tear your heart up. One family wants to disband while doing their best at a job they are ill equipped to handle. Another wants to control others while selfishly serving their own malevolent tendencies. Stirring and engaging, this is Kellerman at his very best.

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Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware series is an old favorite of mine. I enjoyed the murder mystery of this case that opens with the death of an attractive 41 year old woman and a younger attractive man in an upscale property in Bel Air California. A running side story is an evaluation Alex agrees to do involving a teenaged adoptee from Russia whose divorcing parents do not want him. While there was much to like about this entry - some interesting characters and a case going in a few directions that were entertaining, the plot overall was thin. Luck, rather than clues developed by the duo drove their success. The adoptee evaluation, which promised to be interesting ended up kind of annoying and was a let down. I expect more intelligence than Kellerman chose to give me here. This was still an enjoyable read overall and fans should not skip it. It just isn't up there in the best Alex Delawares.

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Two bodies are found floating in a Bel Air pool, belonging to Gio Aggiunta, the heir to an Italian shoe empire, and Meagin March, a married neighbor. Detective Milo Sturgis calls on his friend, the psychologist Alex Delaware, to join him in investigating the dead to find leads. Meagin's identity is an issue, as is Gio's family connection. But somehow, the dangers only mount as secrets are revealed.

This is in the Alex Delaware series, but as with any long-running series, you don't necessarily need to have read all of the prior ones. Alex got hurt at the end of the prior novel, which the opening chapter in this one addresses. The dynamic between him and Milo is slightly different now, with more care taken for Alex's physical health. The attention to detail regarding the case remains the same. The duo and Milo's team looks into both of these victims, hoping to find a motivation for murder and the actual murderer. It's always fascinating to get a look into the process, with punchy, short chapters as they follow every lead, no matter how flimsy. We learn more about each victim, and the vague absence of details regarding Meagan soon means they're looking more into her origin, which isn't what they originally thought it would be.

The ghost orchid is a real plant, one found in Florida that has its roots in the air and draws nutrients from others. The plant is something of a parasite, though it doesn't kill the host. This plays into the theme of the case, and it's incredibly sad when we find out what happened to Meagin and the actual motivation for the murders. Alex got a few psychological evaluation requests, and the main one he received was a good counterpoint to the main investigation. Lives can go in wildly different directions, but sometimes the past still hangs heavily over people.

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3.5 ⭐️’s
Delaware and Sturgis are my favorite duo. With interesting plots, and well developed characters, Kellerman has kept Alex and Milo in cases for years!! The Ghost Orchid was another intriguing case for the pair, and once again was a solid police procedural, but the ending was rather anti climatic and I felt a bit let down. Somewhere along the way it lost its impact. Still good, but I didn’t feel it was up to the high standards I have come to expect from Kellerman. Thank you to Ballentine Books and NetGalley for an ARC of this book.

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The Ghost Orchid is the 39th Alex Delaware procedural mystery by Jonathan Kellerman. Released 6th Feb 2023 by Penguin Random House on their Ballantine imprint, it's 304 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Large print paperback due out from the same publisher 22nd Feb 2024. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout.

This has been such a solid and dependable very long-running series. The returning characters are so well defined at this point, with so much background written in, that they really seem to live and breathe. Dr. Delaware himself is always insightful and the "odd couple" aspects of his relationship with Detective Milo Sturgis are fun and engaging. The series has delivered solidly since 1985 which is stupendous, and that the author continues to deliver without feeling too formulaic or "phoned in" is unbelievably wonderful.

This is a modern procedural and, as in the other books, the descriptions and themes can be graphic. There are aspects of aberrant psychology or behavior and themes which may be upsetting for some readers. The mystery itself is clever, twisty, and super well constructed. Alex Delaware is called in by Milo to try and untangle the otherwise hidden psychological aspects, and as always, his observations are vital to the solving of the case.

The mystery itself and all necessary back-story are written in, so it works quite well as a standalone. The whole series is highly recommended, but readers who are new to the characters won't have any trouble keeping up. Itwould make a superlative buddy/binge/summer vacation read, or a year long project for a mystery book club. Highly successful, it's already on public library acquisition lists, but if not, it's a must read.

The unabridged audiobook version has a run time of 10 hours 7 minutes and is capably narrated by long time series narrator John Rubinstein. Mr. Rubinstein does a superb job juggling the different characters and his baritone voice manages to go from adenoidal whiny to gravelly and hard-boiled (Milo) without a single hiccup. Sound and production quality are very high throughout the read.

Four and a half stars. A solid mystery in a very solid, very long-running series.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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This is an honest review in exchange for an advanced reader copy of Ghost Orchid by Jonathan Kellerman.

I have read all the prior books in the series featuring psychologist Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis. You don’t need to have rad any in the series prior to reading this book but to better understand the nuances of the main characters it benefits the reader to have read the prior books in this series.

Detective Sturgis is investigating a double homicide and asks his friend psychologist to help on the case. Together they work the streets of Los Angeles, interviewing a cast of characters. To find out who did this opens them up to many questions and very few answers. It is a difficult case but one that they are determined to solve.

This is a fast paced, exciting addition to the series. I would recommend this book to my friends. And for anyone that has not read this series I highly recommend starting on book 1 and reading your way to this book.

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Milo is brought to a scene where the pool boy has found two bodies. One belongs to Gio Aggiunta and the other a woman named Meagin March. Milo brings Alex in hoping he can help him figure out which was the main target and why the were targeted. They soon learn that Gio was the youngest son of wealthy Italian shoe designer and Meagin one of the playboys married neighbors. As they dig through both of their pasts they find many reasons why someone might want either of them dead. As they delve deeper it soon becomes apparent that Meagin might not be who she said she was and Gio's family had some connections that weren't quite happy with the family. Follow along as the two run down leads in hopes of figuring out who the killer is and why they killed. Will they get the killer.they seek or will a murderer get away free.

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“Psychologist Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis confront a baffling, vicious double homicide that leads them to long-buried secrets worth killing for in the riveting thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling “master of suspense””

So glad to see Alex and Milo are back together solving murders and eating around :LA . I love both of their approaches to their cases. Bonus points for Alex’s wife, puppy and their sweet and simple life.

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The Ghost Orchid is the 39th book in the Alex Delaware Series, and it's an incredible addition to the series!!

I think my favorite part of this series is the camaraderie that Alex and Milo share. If you are searching for a compelling police procedural - one that brims with suspects, twists and turns, and an adorable dog named Blanche, give this series a spin. (The Ghost Orchid can even be read as a standalone.)

A bit of trivia: Ghost orchids are considered one of the most elusive orchids in existence due to loss of habitat, destructive hurricanes, rising sea levels, and poaching. And, sadly, ghost orchids rarely survive when taken from the wild.

Big thanks to both #Ballantine and #NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Ghost Orchid!

#JonathanKellerman






.

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Thank you Random House/Ballantine, NetGalley, and Jonathan Kellerman for the opportunity to review The Ghost Orchid. It has been some time since I have had so much fun reading an Alex Delaware mystery. I definitely need to read more of them I forgot how much fun they were. Alex, a psychologist works with the police is brought into help determine what is going on in the elite community of Bel Aire where two people are found murdered by the pool. He has to determine not only who these people really were but if their pasts were coming to collect. It is definitely a story that shows how karma plays a serious part in peoples lives and sooner or later it will come out. Excellent story and fabulous characters as always so I am happy to recommend this book to anyone that loves John Sandford, Harlan Conan, or James Patterson or any other police thriller. Enjoy!

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Excellent police procedural series that gets better with each book! Lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing. You won’t want to put the book down..

The characters are one the I have come to love. I look forward to the next book in this series.

NOTE: The publisher graciously provided me with a copy of this book through NetGalley. However, the decision to review the book and the contents of this review are entirely my own..

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Important things you need to know about the book:

Pace: Fast and stays fast throughout the book.

POV: 1st person (told from Alex Delaware’s POV)

Series: The Ghost Orchid is the 39th book in the Alex Delaware series. Readers can read The Ghost Orchid as a standalone book. But I suggest reading the previous 38 books to understand the relationships and backgrounds of people in the book.

Trigger Warnings: There are scenes of poverty, slut-shaming, incest (off page), rape (off page), sexual assault (off page), sex-worker shaming, child abuse (off page), domestic abuse & violence (off page), foster care, sex addiction (off page), blood depiction, dead bodies, gun violence, stalking, and cheating. If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading the book.

Language: There is moderate swearing in The Ghost Orchid. There is also language used that could be offensive to some people.

Setting: The Ghost Orchid is set in and around Los Angeles, California.

Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):

Four months after almost being killed helping his best friend, Milo, on a case, Alex Delaware is bored. So, when Milo calls and asks if Alex could meet him at a crime scene, Alex immediately accepts. Milo needs Alex’s insights to understand who could have killed two people in a Beverly Hills neighborhood.

But, when Milo starts digging into the woman victim’s background, he finds a mystery. The woman has no past and didn’t exist until a year before she married over a year ago. A painting of a ghost orchid by the victim is a tantalizing clue about who she was. It is up to Alex and Milo to unravel her past to find her (and her lover’s) killer. Can they untangle a past full of lies and stolen identities? Will they discover her killer before he strikes again?

Characters:

The main characters of The Ghost Orchid are Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis. These are well-established, well-rounded characters who had great chemistry together. But the author did something different at the end of the last book and the beginning of this book. He had Alex almost get killed at the end of the last book and was forced to take a break for four months. And during that time, Milo and Alex grew apart. Milo had extreme guilt over Alex’s near-death experience and injuries. That kept him from visiting and, at one point, even talking to Alex. It was interesting to see them be so awkward with each other and to watch them reform their bond.

I enjoyed the extra depth that the secondary characters brought to the storyline. I liked that the author brought back characters from previous books. It made the book feel more fleshed out to me.

My review:

The storyline of The Ghost Orchid is centered around the murder, the female victim’s identity and past, and the relationship (both personal and professional) between Alex and Milo. I loved how the author kept the storyline minimal initially and then slowly added information. It made for a compelling and exciting read.

The mystery angle of The Ghost Orchid was well written. I liked how the author almost casually dropped clues about the female victim’s identity (both past and present). He also included what seemed to be two random murders and tied them to her in ways that I honestly didn’t expect. There is a twist at the end of the book that did take me by surprise. It shouldn’t have (considering what Milo and Alex discovered in the last half of the book). It also saddened me and just reaffirmed my belief that people are awful.

The end of The Ghost Orchid was interesting. I liked how Milo and Alex wrapped up the case. As I said above, it did sadden me because of what the female victim went through in her life and the lengths she went through to distance herself from everything. I hope there will be a book 40; if there is, I can’t wait to read it.

Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and Jonathan Kellerman for allowing me to read and review this ARC of The Ghost Orchid. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

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True to form. More adventures of Alex and Milo. I love how the two play off each other, leveraging their strengths and weaknesses. Kellerman does not write the most beautiful prose but writes to entertain. Thank you NetGalley fans r an advanced copy.

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Alex has been taking time off to recover from an injury and now as he is ready for action Milo enlists his help in a double homicide. An older woman married to a rich younger man starts an affair with Gio. Both are found shot dead near his pool. I wouldn't call the story full of surprising twists but lots of turns and grunt work to get to the killer. The ending was not a heart stopping page turner but satisfactory. I always enjoy the relationship with Alex and Milo. I know in the beginning Robin was more of a front runner. It's nice that they are now so blissfully happy and in tune with each other but that perfect life is getting boring. What is also great about the series is that you can pick up anyone of them and not feel like you missed a whole lot.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Random House Ballantine for providing me with a digital copy.

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I received an ARC of this book. Great mystery story with many twists and turns. Kept me guessing until the end. Highly recommend!

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Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this eARC.

Alex and Milo are back! Milo is a favorite character of mine. Well, here's my review...

The Ghost Orchid is the 39th installment in the Alex Delaware series by Jonathan Kellerman, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of psychological thrillers. In this riveting novel, psychologist Alex Delaware and detective Milo Sturgis team up to solve a double homicide that leads them to a web of deception, identity theft, and long-buried secrets.

The story begins when a housekeeper finds two bodies floating in a pool in a secluded Bel Air mansion. The victims are Gio Aggiunta, the heir of an Italian shoe empire, and Meagan March, a wealthy neighbor who was having an affair with him. The crime scene is clean and there is no sign of forced entry, suggesting that the killer was someone close to them. But as Alex and Milo dig deeper, they discover that Meagan March was not who she claimed to be. She had no family, no friends, and no history. She was a ghost orchid, a rare and elusive flower that blooms only in the dark.

Alex and Milo follow the trail of clues that leads them from the glamorous world of high society to the dark underworld of organized crime, where they encounter ruthless enemies who will stop at nothing to protect their secrets. Along the way, they also uncover the tragic past of Gio Aggiunta, who was haunted by his family's legacy and his own demons. The Ghost Orchid is a masterful work of fiction that explores the themes of identity, betrayal, and redemption.

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Jonathan Kellerman's well known characters Psychologist Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis return in The Ghost Orchid. Sturgis is investigating a double homicide and needs Delaware's help. The bodies of a naked man and woman are found near a swimming pool in the backyard of a small Los Angeles house. Sturgis and Delaware work through their leads and meet many interesting characters along the way. Kellerman's plot is captivating and easy to follow. The Ghost Orchid is a definite page turner.

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This was a well-written, entertaining book. It was fascinating, and kept me reading. It was so interesting to read as the smallest of details led to eventually figuring it all out. I enjoyed this book and this author is a "must read" for me, especially this series.

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What I love most about the Alex Delaware series is that it always feels like you’re reading about a realistic investigation: following tips, interviewing witnesses, hitting dead ends. With Alex being a psychologist, his expertise in how humans behave and think always plays a part in helping his best friend, Detective Milo Sturgis, understand the killer’s actions, as well as analyzing the victims.

The mystery centers around a couple found murdered in the backyard of a mansion. Alex and Milo start digging into the victims’ lives, trying to find a motive, but uncover more questions than answers. While the conclusion to the case was a little unsatisfying, I still loved the overall investigation and the motive for the murders.

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One reason many people like long-running TV cop series is their familiarity with each show’s setup and routine. The characters’ names and faces may change over the years as actors come and go, but the basic format remains the same. Watch any episode of “Law and Order” or “NCIS” from season one to the present, and it feels like every other episode. Readers feel the same with crime novels like Jonathan Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series. The series’ 39th novel, “The Ghost Orchid,” will feel quite familiar to longtime fans. Nothing earth-shattering happens, but watching child psychologist Alex and his cop buddy Milo Sturgis solve another case is comfortable, entertaining reading.

“The Ghost Orchid” starts a bit differently than other Delaware novels. In the series’ previous book, Alex was severely injured, and a guilty-feeling Milo left him alone for several months. This forced sabbatical only lasts a few chapters before the two return to work as if nothing had happened earlier. This case is a double homicide. A real estate tycoon’s wife and her playboy boyfriend are found shot to death by the pool in his home. No witnesses, no clues, and only one suspect, the husband. Although his behavior is rather bizarre, Alex and Milo have their doubts about his involvement. Neither victim seems to have any present-day enemies, so the investigation becomes an exploration of their pasts. The book’s title is an important clue in this regard. I won’t explain it or its significance further to avoid spoiling some of the book’s entertainment value.

Although Milo doesn’t initially bring Alex into the case to take advantage of the psychologist’s background and training, Alex’s expertise in assembling a profile of the victims becomes crucial in solving the mystery. At first, neither victim seems to have a past that goes back longer than two years. But when Alex and Milo talk to the victims’ friends and other lovers, they learn more. “The Ghost Orchid” is an unusual type of mystery. The investigators don’t use modern-day forensics to solve the case or engage in Sherlock Holmes-style deductions regarding a handful of suspects. Instead, Alex’s primary method of investigation is a series of mostly fruitless Google searches. But he gradually constructs and revises a profile of the victims that allows him to find the killer and the motive.

Some readers may find “The Ghost Orchid” overly talky and repetitive, even for an Alex Delaware novel. Alex and Milo go back and forth several times about whether the dead woman’s husband is a viable suspect. Their talks with the husband and the dead woman’s friends are repetitive as well. But the story becomes much more interesting when they finally get to the “good stuff” in the book’s last third. Alex and Milo eventually discover the motive for the killings, and the events they uncover, although years in the past, are chilling.

The author’s eye for detail and knack for description are evident in “The Ghost Orchid.” The extensive descriptions of people and places would feel like padding with some authors. However, Jonathan Kellerman establishes a sense of scene that adds to the story and makes even minor characters feel real. For example, Kellerman describes a valet looking to park Milo’s car by saying: “He regarded the Impala with the disdain you sometimes see in people who can’t afford luxury but have aligned themselves with the power elite.”

One part of the book that feels like padding is a subplot involving Alex’s examination of a teenage boy, neither of whose divorcing parents want custody of him. Alex, the judge, and the two attorneys try to find the best solution for the boy. Alex only meets with the boy and the two attorneys in the book’s final chapter. The storyline is interesting but has nothing to do with the prime case and ending the book on this note is a letdown. I felt the author had taken a short story treatment about the boy and arbitrarily inserted it into an unrelated novel.

“The Ghost Orchid” is a rather unremarkable Alex Delaware novel, but that’s not an indictment of the book. Many Nero Wolfe books felt similar, but Rex Stout’s readers loved them all the same. Alex Delaware fans will enjoy the descriptions and the eventual revelation of the circumstances and motive behind the murders. “The Ghost Orchid” is high-quality comfort reading for fans of a very talented author. Genre fans shouldn’t ghost this book.

NOTE: The publisher graciously provided me with a copy of this book through NetGalley. However, the decision to review the book and the contents of this review are entirely my own.

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