Delirium blew me away and I have to admit I wasn't expecting it to. J.F Penn set the bar so high with Desecration (The London Psychic Book 1) that I didn't see how she could reach it again. I stand corrected. In fact I sit chewing-my-nails awake-till-the-small-hours-reading corrected.
This is another wrenching read that offers so much on every level. It's an awesome action-packed ride that opens with a shockingly vivid and creepy murder. A number of equally horrible deaths follow, impacting on Detective Sergeant Jamie Brooke as she grieves for her daughter and tries to continue without her.
The serial killings are so strange and macabre that Jamie is drawn back to life by each subsequent death. Her investigation is the crutch her broken heart needs and once again the character development is stellar. We also learn more about Blake and the hardships of his childhood. The influence of poor parenting is further developed and with greater sophistication, since Blake's Mother loved him and tried to do her best for him, but failed very badly. The same could be said of his Father, but both parents placed the expectations of their culture ahead of their son's wellbeing.
The ugliness of corruption returns in this book, but it is even nastier and further reaching than in Book 1.
However, the central theme of this novel is sanity. How do you even define what is normal? And how does society treat those who clearly fall beyond its definition of sane? Some information was glazed over, for example the existence of drugs that can help mental conditions without turning their users into zombies, but this was a sideline to the specific situations in the story and might easily have turned it into a lecture.
Delirium is a "tale full of sound and fury", but it signifies a great deal. Insights into the human condition come thick and fast to create a work that leaves the reader breathless and satisfied. That said, I can't wait to read Book 3.
Warning: graphic violence and vivid imagery abound.
The research is excellent, as usual, but Delirium also has all the power and gravitas of Desecration.