That's it! This book did it. I'm going to revise my audiobook buying habits. Just prior to this classic adventure with Dr. Alex and Milo, I'd bought -- and listened to -- four or five new books written and narrated by authors and narrators unknown to me. Most weren't all that bad, but neither were any of them all that good. Mediocrity reigned. I'd find my mind drifting off, have to backtrack, sometimes more than once. Occasionally near the end of the book a character's name would come up and I'd realize I had no idea at all who that was.
Then I reverted to "When the Bough Breaks" by this much loved author. Understand, I've read not only all the Alex Delaware books but all the "stand alones" too, "Billy Straight" and the best of them all, "Butcher's Theater". But I hadn't read "Bough" for a very long time -- decades, probably. I was betting I wouldn't remember much of the specifics of the plot.
Starting in, I was captivated from the very first minute. Good to be reminded of how Alex and Milo met, good to see Robin in the early stages of that relationship, good to remember when her workshop was in 'downtown' Venice, when she was just getting started. Loved the descriptions of Venice -- not that way anymore, but it was, back then.
I love this book -- I've loved them all. I love characters; I love the clinical insights scattered throughout, even though I know nothing of psychology. I really love the unbelievably accurate and fascinating LA-area scenery Kellerman describes so perfectly, much of which I'm familiar with myself. In this book, Dr. Alex takes a drive through that "other" Malibu, the upland hills, away from the sea, the one where snakes -- both those that crawl and those who walk upright -- thrive, where affluence isn't the order of the day, but drugs and danger lurk behind every turn. I think one time I was lost driving up in that area myself -- listening to the description again made me shiver. It's remote up there -- another world entirely, and Kellerman uses it to great advantage.
Bottom line: this was an enormously enjoyable book. I never lost concentration, not for one moment. It was well narrated, even though the narrator mispronounces "Ventura", over and over. (It's 'ven TUR a', from the Spanish. NOT 'ven CHUR a'. It has no connection to the English 'venture' -- more likely from San Buenaventura, one of the local holies of long ago.) Still, Alexander Adams' low key narration is just about perfect, smooth, pleasant and easy to listen to.
So? I've changed my strategy. From now on, I'm staying away from new books by unknown authors. I'm reverting to tried and true, golden oldies written by authors I know and love. I'll wait for the new authors to prove themselves.... and until then, I'll buy only books I already know I'll love. ... And now I'm hunting more by Jonathan Kellerman.
I read the first book in the series and liked it so much I bought the next book in hardcover as soon as it came out, something I almost never do. Alas, that second book was not good -- I thought the whole concept was inherently incredible, the writing amateurish, and overall, it was way, way too pedantic. If I wanted to read a textbook, I could have done that. I'd decided that these authors had only one good book in them.
But then I saw "Bone Thief" on Audible on special -- for the price, I was willing to try another one. And wow! This one is great. Very very good story -- something for everyone. Good plot, plenty of "oh good grief, he's not really going to..." moments, really fascinating tidbits of fact about transplants, interesting and likable characters. Now I'll be looking for more in this series. It's just excellent, the whole thing. Bravo!
A low-key mystery set in Berlin -- and a great listen by any standard. There's murder afoot here -- but Dr, Felix Hoffman works with geriatric patients, and some of the normal end-of-life situations he encounters might be natural, others clearly not so. But this is not a "thriller", rather a really interesting look into the world of seriously ill old people and one doctor who serves them.
And their pets. The following is not really a "spoiler", but... "Trixie", described as an 'ugly mutt' was owned by Dr. Hoffman's elderly aunt, so when the aunt herself dies, Trixie is adopted by Dr. Hoffman and figures prominently in the tale. What's interesting -- as a side note in the story -- is that Dr, Hoffman recognizes the important part that pets play in the lives of the elderly, and so he uses a legacy to create an adjunct to their hospital, a kennel for patient's pets, where the patients can go to visit any time they're able -- they even installed a few hospital beds, so a patient can even spend the night with their pet if they wish. Not surprisingly for us pet lovers, but Dr. Hoffman notes that after this facility is established, the demand for pain medication and anti-depressants in his ward drops by half. I believe that -- and an interesting idea. I wonder if this really exists in Germany.
All in all, this a really good book. I'd never heard of the book or the author before -- thank you Daily Deal! -- but now I'll definitely seek out more "Dr. Hoffman" books on Audible. Very enjoyable -- I was sad to finish it.