Book Title: The Murderer's Daughter
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Page Count: 442
Genre: Psychological Thriller
ISBN/Link To Book On Amazon:
Audience: Readers who enjoy a novel full of emotional twists and turns, alongside an intense and sometimes violent search for the truth.
Summed up in one word: Demanding
Author Bio: Jonathan Kellerman has brought his expertise as a clinical psychologist to more than thirty bestselling crime novels. He is one of the world's most popular authors, creating plots and characters that are among the most unusual and convincing in crime fiction.
First Impression: The Murderer's Daughter is both a forcible search for answers to a life altering event and a story of an intelligent girl born into the wrong family. Warning: this book includes content related to orphans and child abuse so be prepared for upsetting scenes in the first act of this book. That said, Grace's rise from the family she was given to the family that she deserved is an outstanding journey and my favourite part of this book. The other half of the story centred around an older Grace Blades trying to figure out the murder of a potential client is also intriguing, giving the reader a series of thrilling and explosive reveals and incidents.
Summary of the Story:
A brilliant and dedicated psychologist, Grace Blades has a gift for treating troubled souls and tormented psyches - because she bears her own invisible scars. Only five years old when she watched her parents die in a bloody murder-suicide, Grace took refuge in her fierce intellect and found comfort in the loving couple who adopted her. But her now-accomplished life has a secret side, ruled by an insatiable desire; by night she pursues the addictive thrills of sexual trysts with strangers. And when her two worlds unexpectedly converge, Grace's past returns with a vengeance, threatening to destroy everything she's fought for - including her life.
Shaken by the murder of her newest patient and fearful that an investigation will expose her double life, Grace sets out to probe the crime herself. But when she stumbles on the dead man's true identity, a horrifying chapter from her childhood is violently reawakened, forcing Grace to confront a decades-old act of evil crying out to be avenged. Suddenly stalked by dangerous men, Grace must turn to the talent for survival she's depended on all her life in order to face down the darkest personal demon she's ever battled: her own.
(*Synopsis given by Headline for The Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman*)
Plot: Opening with heart-breaking scenes of an unwanted baby born into a violent and uncaring family filled me with immediate dread and I was concerned with continuing... Fortunately the core of this book is centred around an older and super-sharp version of Dr Grace Blades, with frequent jumps back to little Grace and her unspeakable but eventually heart-warming childhood. The plot involving Dr Blades is cunning, exciting, emotionally unstable and sometimes violent. The other-side to this story that showcases Grace's family dysfunction, her trip through the foster care system and her eventual, much appreciated adoption into a family who love her. This story, to me, is the better part of the book and complements, explains and enhances everything going on in later events.
Writing Style: Kellerman choose to write this story from two different times in Grace Blades life. He also choose to involve sexual, violent and questionable moral themes, though non of these elements are too overwhelming to the storytelling. What was overwhelming to me (part being a parent but mostly being a caring human being) was the child abuse/violence that occurs in the first act of this book. Although they are cringe worthy and tear inducing, they also set up the remainder of Grace's storyline so they are necessary in the evolution of this psychological thriller.
Setting: The homes and destinations in this book are used to accentuate the quality of the circumstances that Grace finds herself in. From a trailer park (dysfunction, hunger), to a ranch (openness and hard work), to a mansion (freedom and intellect) and finally a beach (relaxation and solidarity). I think the places that Grace visits on her quests for answers are meant to highlight the vastness/reach that our pasts can cover.
Characters: Grace Blades turned out quite well considering the atrocities she had to endure to get to adulthood in one piece. She is incredibly intelligent and also amazingly aware of other people, their problems and how they respond to behaviour. In her youth, she spends her time cultivating a persona to protect herself from any harm or rejection, playing the charming girl with good manners and an interest in what people have to say, when in reality she wants to be alone and reading.
In her later years, after she has studied immensely to obtain a masterful grasp of psychology, she is dedicated to helping others whilst also feeding her own personal desires that have sprouted over her formative years. Other characters in this book act as either assistants or obstacles to Grace's path through life. People like Malcolm and Wayne who help her to survive and thrive. And people like her parents and other children who mean her harm. It was interesting to have a villain that is, for most of the book, an idea of the adult version of the child that Grace met all those years ago who was pure evil.
Themes: Other than Grace herself, the other core element to this book is the argument that - if you are related to a killer, can that affect your own morals/behaviour and increase the likeliness that you will harm others yourself. It is an interesting question and one that Grace considers throughout the book, eventually writing a research paper on it herself. There are a lot of harsh themes in this book and though Grace makes it out the other end in one piece, many other children are left to suffer in the foster care system everyday of their youth. This may be a fictional book but it is rooted in everyday reality and psychology.
Likes: Great Development of Characters. Strong Story Telling. Grace Blades. Intellectual Intensity. Interesting Take On A Villain.
Dislikes: Harsh Themes. Violence. Suffering. Foster Care.
Thoughts on the cover art: Simple and chilling 7/10
Overall: Do I think you should read this book? Yes. Though it may be upsetting at times and gives us insight into foster care reality, this is the rise of a great character, a story of success. And when that success is threatened, this book turns into a hunt for answers and a very enjoyable addition to your thriller collection.