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Dr. Connie Sykes, the owner and operator of a lab that tests for sexually transmitted diseases, shows up at Alex Delaware's office and threatens him in the powerhouse opening of bestseller Kellerman's 29th novel featuring the L.A. psychologist (after 2013's Guilt). Sykes leaves Delaware unscathed, for the time being. In one of the author's better plots, flashbacks chart the events that led to the terrifying encounter. A judge impressed by Delaware's objectivity and expertise persuaded him to serve on a court-appointed panel to provide evaluations in child-custody cases. Sykes was a plaintiff in one. Childless, she insisted that her 16-month-old niece be placed in her care, and that the girl's mother, Sykes's own sister, was not a fit parent, but Delaware's assessment proved fatal to her hopes for custody. The aftermath of the office confrontation results in murder. Kellerman's own experience in the field makes him well suited to describe a psychologist's work without either dumbing it down or resorting to excessive jargon. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Psychologist Alex Delaware's custody consultations can get ugly, but Alex enters uncharted territory when his best friend, LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis, warns him that there's a contract out on Alex's life. Successful (and apparently unhinged) scientist Connie Sykes has just been denied custody of her sister Cherie's daughter, and she's exacting revenge for Alex's recommendation in Cherie's favor. Hours after the LAPD's hit-man sting operation fails to snag her, Sykes is murdered. In quick succession, two men she named in court as the baby's possible fathers are also killed, and Cherie and the baby go missing. Is Cherie eliminating custody threats, or is someone else involved? With Milo focusing on Cherie, Alex follows his gut instinct that she's no killer and hunts for other leads. As usual, the rapport between Alex and Milo is a show-stealer, and longtime fans some of whom may have noted an unevenness in the series recently will love the well-executed flashbacks to Alex's professional past. This twenty-ninth entry reads like a straightforward thriller until the appropriately insane ending twist.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2014 Booklist