Alex Delaware

Jonathan Kellerman
Character Created by JONATHAN KELLERMAN

REVIEWS
I originally wrote these for Amazon.com, but I may have added some spoilers here, so be warned
(Especially spoilers relating to injuries suffered - usually by Alex)
Cover images are scans of the actual books I read - creases and all
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WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS (1985)     [*****]

Great start to a great series.

This is the first book in the Alex Delaware series and starts with Detective Milo Sturgis asking his pal Dr. Alex Delaware to help with a witness. Alex is a retired child psychologist - retired after burning out and breaking down following the suicide of a pedophile in his office. Now, he's pretty much a California beach bum and Milo thinks he needs some distraction. He really does need help with this witness, though. A Psychologist and his girlfriend were brutally murdered and the only witness is a little 7 year old girl who can't remember seeing anything more that shadows. Milo thinks maybe Alex can talk with her, maybe hypnotize her - at least try because thay have no other leads at all.

Alex does get involved - more involved than he planned on. This sweet child really sucks him in and the more he digs, the more he finds this case ties into the suicide at his office. He digs too deep, though, stirs up enough dirt to get Milo pulled from the case and even suspended. It's a nasty tale of big shot perversion and Alex digs deep enough to endanger his own life. Can Milo get to him in time to save him?

I'd read a couple later books in the series before this one and it was fun to see how Alex and Milo meet and how Alex met his girlfriend Robin. I saw the made for TV movie based on this book before I read it too, so I had some idea of what to expect. It is full of twists, though, and the ending threw me for a loop. No WAY did I expect this ending!

I highly recommend this series as the pinnacle of the Psychological thriller.

SPOILERS

INJURY ALERT: In addition to being strangled, Alex gets smacked in the face with a gun in this and spends months with his jaw wired shut.
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BLOOD TEST (1986)     [*****]

Not enough Milo.

I love these books. This is the second in the Alex Delaware series, but I haven't read them in order and I've already read a half dozen or so. I love Alex, but sometimes he's so infuriating! He's completely incapable of minding his own business and he seems to think he's indestructible. Poor Milo tries to reign him in, but it's a losing battle. Alex walks - or skulks - right into these things knowing full well that if he's caught, he's dead, but he does it anyway without bothering to wait for professional help. If you're going to walk into a dangerous situation, bring the big burly guy with the gun along with you! Still, it's exciting, and, of course, there'd be no story if Alex was cautious.

Psychologist Alex Delaware gets involved in this situation because his old boss, Dr. Raoul Melendez-Lynch, calls him in to help with a particularly sad case. Five year old Woody Swope has a cancer that was caught early enough it could be completely cured, but his backwoods family are refusing treatment and the gruff head of the Oncology Department is losing his cool. Alex agrees and meets with the bright young boy, but before he can meet with the family, Woody is spirited away and they have all disappeared.

Alex goes digging. At first because he is genuinely concerned for the boy, but also because he hates to leave something unfinished. His girlfriend Robin is away in Japan, so he has nothing better to do anyway, and when someone tries to kill him, it becomes personal. His pal, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, is away in Washington, DC, so Alex has a flimsy excuse for going it alone, but you know he would have gone snooping alone anyway even if Milo was around. Once again, he almost gets himself killed. You'd think he would have learned after spending months with his jaw wired shut, but the man has an insatiable curiosity and a penchant for breaking and entering. (Have to wonder why he isn't arrested himself for that).

It's a pretty dark and twisted tale of cults and drugs and rare fruits and I couldn't put it down till I'd read the last page. I only wish Milo had been around more.

One thing I'm kind of curious about - just how is it that Alex can recognize such substances as Mexican heroin, raw opium and hashish when he sees it? I mean, that wasn't taught at my grad school. Then again - UCLA in the 70's ... Yeah, maybe it's not so unusual after all.

SPOILERS

INJURY ALERT: Alex suffers nothing more than a punch to the shoulder and a badly scratched cheek in this, but he is threatened with a knife, a gun and with psychotropic drugs. And, of course, someone shoots up his house and accidently kills someone else by mistake who was trying to set fire to the house. Yeah, it's complicated.
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OVER THE EDGE (1987)     [*****]

Love this guy!

This is the third Alex Delaware novel written by Jonathan Kellerman, but it's the second one I've read. The first one I read was a much more recent novel (Therapy) and was kind of slow going at first, but this one had me hooked on page one! Alex Delaware is an intriguing character and it makes a nice twist to have a crime novel told by someone more on the fringe of the investigation. Delaware is a Psychologist who sometimes does consulting for the police department. His good friend Milo Sturgis is a homicide detective, so Alex is often drawn into complicated and grisly cases.

This book starts with a phone call in the wee hours which turns out to be a crisis call from a former patient. James Cadmus had been a child genius, but now has evidently gone off the deep end. When he is found with two mutilated bodies and the bloody knife in his hand, it seems obvious he's a homicidal maniac. But Alex isn't so sure. It's a wickedly tangled web, but Alex finds help in some unexpected places and the truth slowly becomes clear. Great stuff.

I love the dynamic between Alex and his friend Milo. Poor Milo has a new captain who doesn't like him, so he's going through hell at work at the moment and that leads to the bottle and trouble at home too. But you'll just have to read the book to find out how that turns out.

And now I must go read all the other volumes in this series. There are TWENTY of them! ARGH!

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SILENT PARTNER (1989)     [*****]

WOW!

This one is scary! The climax is scarier than that of Bad Love - and that one is SCARY! Even though Alex ... well, I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just leave it at that. Alex sure does get himself into spooky situations. And he can't keep his mouth shut! Who would have thought Alex would be such as smartass?

In this one Alex and Robin are separated and she's off finding herself or something. In his boredom and despair, he agrees to attend a faculty party celebrating the appointment of a new department head. Alex and his friend Larry attend just to make snide remarks about Paul Kruse, the man of honor. At the party, Alex spots an old flame and that's when all the trouble starts.

Sharon corners him and all his conflicting emotions flood to the surface. She says she is not doing so well and wants to get together with him - just to talk. He agrees, but later, he regrets it and calls to cancel, leaves a message on her machine. The next day, she is dead - an apparent suicide - and Alex blames himself. He flashes back to their relationship in Grad School - which is pretty darned steamy - and then starts digging - into her past as well as into his own soul and what he finds isn't all that pretty.

At the start, Milo and Rick are off on a fishing trip and Milo's description of this trip is pretty darned funny. Alex gets his friend involved in all the mess, though, and then goes off on his own, leaving poor Milo out in the cold. I hope he makes it up to Milo in the next book.

Another book I couldn't put down - another sleepless night - I should charge the author for my sleep deprivation therapy.

SPOILERS

Alex isn't actually hurt in this, but he is threatened and kidnapped and it's a really scary situation. This is one of my faves.
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TIME BOMB (1990)     [*****]

LOVED IT!

I really need to read these in order. When I said Alex comes close to death in Survival of the Fittest I hadn't read this yet - he comes sooooo much closer in this one. And Milo is right there with him. In fact, the poor detective takes quite a beating.

Okay, it all begins with a sniper incident at a grade school. The kids are traumatized and Detective Milo Sturgis calls in his friend Dr. Alex Delaware to help the little ones cope. When politics get involved, everything goes downhill. Kinky politicos, fugitive left wing radicals, neo nazis - it's all here. Add one demented little father on the war path and we have the makings of one dangerous situation. Into which, poor Milo and Alex walk blind.

Alex and Robin are still separated in this one and she really irritates me. She dumped him and now she keeps calling him, wanting to be friends and just picking at old wounds. Alex has a great new love interest now - Linda, the school principal. I really like her. I wish she would stick around.

And, yes, another sleepless night reading this - lots of tension, lots of angst - lots of frantic page turning to find out what happens next.

SPOILERS

This is the one in which Milo punches out his Lieutenant on live TV. Breaks his jaw. The guy deserved it.

INJURY ALERT: Yes, Milo takes a beating this time - an interrogation, but Alex gets slapped around a bit too - and cut with a knife. Both of them are abducted and threatened with death.

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PRIVATE EYES (1992)     [*****]

Gotta love Milo.

This one starts with Dr. Alex Delaware getting a call from a young woman he treated years ago. Eleven years ago, Melissa Dickenson was a bright, precocious 7 year old girl afraid of everything - a result of growing up with a severely agoraphobic mother. Her mother Gina had been a beautiful actress when a heinous attack left her permanently disfigured and scared of the world - she hasn't left her house since. Little Melissa had to grow up fast to help care for her mother, but she grew up in a loving home none-the-less. Now, nine years after leaving treatment, she's a beautiful young woman herself, about to embark on her own life's adventure, except her mother's attacker is out of prison and back in town. She is desperate for help and Alex can't say no.

Detective Milo Sturgis is about half way through a six month suspension from the LAPD and he's going stir crazy. That's why he really can't resist when his pal Alex pleads for assistance. The free-lancing detective work is good for Milo - he makes some good contacts and gets to flex his deductive muscles, gets to step on some PD toes (always fun). But Gina vanishes and as Milo and Alex dig, they discover a trail of other disappearances as well as several possible deaths. Everyone has a possible motive and yet, no one has a possible motive - it's a real mystery.

Linda, the school principal, is back in Texas caring for her ailing father, leaving Alex to fend for himself. He reconnects with Robin - as friends - will they get back together? Another great book with plenty of Milo this time. There's a scene in which Alex kind of ticks off Milo. The big guy gets genuinely angry and Alex is surprised to find himself scared. After all these years, he is actually afraid of his good friend - comments that he now knows how a suspect feels. Yeah, and of course Alex walks into a dangerous situation - again - almost gets himself killed - again. The climax is a bit of a surprise, though - bet you won't figure it out.

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DEVIL'S WALTZ (1993)     [****]

I just love Milo.

This one starts off kind of dry - lots of technical psychobabble, but it is interesting - in an arid kind of way. Alex is called in on a consult to evaluate a situation involving a little 2 year old girl. Cassie has been in and out of the hospital multiple times and no one can figure out why. Is it a case of Munchausen by Proxy? Is Cassie's mother making her own child ill just for attention? It's an ugly suspicion and Alex feels very duplicitous in his evaluation - becoming friendly with Cindy, the girl's mother, in order to spy on her, but the alternative is a dead child, so Alex accepts the challenge.

The truth of the situation is even more heinous and when the bodies start accumulating and the suspect list starts growing, Alex turns to his old pal Milo for help and things get really interesting. Detective Milo Sturgis has been demoted following an assault on a superior officer and he's been relegated to a boring data processing position, but he's moonlighting as a private detective and he uses the police computers for research in order to help Alex with background info on all the players in this potentially tragic drama. And drama it is, complete with cloak and dagger shadow government involvement that borders on scary.

It's great watching Alex toss around all these conspiracy theories while Milo puts it all on the line for his friend. As they both dig, the story they uncover is more convoluted than they could have imagined and when all is said and done, they get help from a very unexpected source.

Like I said, I just love Milo.

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BAD LOVE (1994)     [*****]

A twisting roller-coaster of a ride!

I really enjoyed this one. Dr. Alex Delaware - child psychologist/police consultant - is in real peril and it's possible even his pal Detective Milo Sturgis can't help him this time.

Usually, Milo is the one getting Alex involved in cases, but this book has Alex dragging Milo into the intrigue, and the big guy really comes through, too. It starts with a package in the mail - a very disturbing cassette tape that sets Alex on edge. But then, it becomes apparent that he's being stalked and with therapists dropping like flies, Alex is afraid he may be next on the list! It's a real twisty-turny plot that kept me reading, but there are so many names, I couldn't keep everyone straight. Alex and his girlfriend Robin are really put through the ringer by this stalker as the little harassing escapades get more and more intense - more and more violent - more and more deadly.

There's a new addition to the cast - an adorable little stray dog named Rover/Spike/Barry ... Love that dog! Hope he stays around. And it's interesting to see just how well connected Milo is - he has friends everywhere.

SPOILERS

Alex isn't actually injured in this, but one of his koi is murdered and his house is burned down and he and Robin are terrorized and threatened. Scary situation. I think this one ties with Survival of the Fittest as my fave so far.
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SELF DEFENSE (1995)     [*****]

I love Alex.

Dr. Alex Delaware is completely incorrigible! I love this character, but no wonder his pal Milo is going gray - keeping Alex out of trouble is a full time job! There is a scene in this one where Milo tells Alex straight out not to go snooping - he tells him, "I know you ..." Yeah, Milo knows him all right, and so do we, don't we? (And if you don't - read the books! They're great!)

Okay, Alex is a clinical psychologist who is semi-retired, does mostly forensic work now for the court and the police. His best friend Milo Sturgis is a homicide detective with the LAPD. Once Alex gets involved in a mystery, he is incapable of letting it go. In all fairness, it is Milo who gets him involved in this one.

You may recall that their house was burned down in the last book, so Alex and his girlfriend Robin are rebuilding - she's a carpenter, so she's very hands-on. In the meantime, they're living on the beach in Malibu. Sweet.

Milo is quite taken by one of the jurors involved in a particularly gruesome and high profile case. Ever since the trial, Lucy Lowell has been haveing nightmares and Milo asks his friend Alex to try to help her. She's quite a character and Alex is taken by her too. (Things get a little complicated when she reveals her crush on Milo - FINALLY! A woman falls for Milo! (I'm not the only one!) The fact he's gay does put a crimp in things, but no matter). While her recurring dream becomes more intense, other strange happenings have her - and everyone else - questioning her sanity. But there is obviously more going on than anyone originally thought and Alex is afraid maybe this dream is not a nightmare at all, but a long suppressed childhood memory. The memory of a murder.

Milo is tied up with another complicated case, so Alex goes off digging on his own - again. I had to laugh - several times, Alex comments about doing something "on impulse" and I'm sitting there waiting for someone to try to kill him. The lies come so easy for him in this one - he's been getting a lot of practice. He pretends to be just another customer, a journalist, a freelance novelist, a publisher and he even manages to keep his lies straight - he's amazing! But the inevitable happens and he and Lucy find themselves staring down the wrong end of a gun.

The mystery is 20 years old, so it's a very cold trail and a very complicated case - you won't figure it out - the ending is quite a surprise.

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THE WEB (1996)     [*****]

Another great book!

Dr. Alex Delaware's new house still isn't finished yet and the lease is up for the little beach house in Malibu, so Alex, his girlfriend Robin and their pooch Spike are about to be out on the street. That's why Dr. Moreland's invitation for Alex to come stay a few months in a tropical paradise to help the old man organize his notes is a very tempting proposition. And since Robin is under doctor's orders to give her wrist a rest so her tendonitis can heal, why not take a little vacation to the tiny island of Aruk?

Thus begins a very tangled web indeed. (Spike makes friends with a little monkey in this one, he's so adorable). Alex is really sucked into this one, though. He doesn't even have a choice when it comes to snooping because nothing is as it seems in paradise and Dr. Moreland is fond of games. When murder and mayhem invade the island, Alex's pal Milo can help only so much from thousands of miles away (but he does try), and it soon becomes clear that Dr. Moreland had ulterior motives for inviting Alex - motives that do not include organizing his notes. The danger becomes very real, though, and Alex does something ... Agh, I don't want to give anything away, but he is forced to do something he is definitely not proud of and he does it in front of Robin, which only makes it worse. MAJOR Angst!

Great, creepy story.

SPOILERS

Okay, what Alex is forced to do in front of Robin is kill a guy - he shoots him. I mean, it's self defense - protecting Robin, really, so he has no choice, but still, it is something Alex never expected he would ever have to do. (He hates guns).
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THE CLINIC (1997)     [*****]

Secret lives abound.

When Detective Milo Sturgis is handed a cold case, he asks his pal Dr. Alex Delaware to help him out. Psychology professor Hope Devane had just written a very controversial best-selling book about gender roles in society when she was brutally murdered three months ago. The assumption was an enraged reader killed her and there are no leads. When Milo and Alex start digging, though, they discover that the good Doctor Devane may have had a secret life and several suspects emerge.

Alex goes snooping again - he never learns. Well, actually, he learns quite a bit - he is so duplicitous - Milo's influence, no doubt. We see quite a bit of Milo in this one, which is always good. We see him trying to be gentle with tiny college girls - not as successful as his attempt to be intimidating to high-priced lawyers. We see him go undercover as a soap opera producer and we see him speeding in Rick's Porsche. (Fun times).

Alex's new house is finally finished and he, Robin and the pooch are moved in. I don't like the new place as much as I did the original - and I think Alex agrees. But there is a studio out back for Robin, so she can work from home now so when all is said and done, it's good to be home.

I did find myself wondering just how Alex figured some of this one out, but I guess once they knew where to look, it was all a matter of public record. The bad guy in this one is a real piece of work, but still, you can't help but feel a certain sympathy. He was a creep before hand, but what was done to him ... shocking.

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SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST (1997)     [*****]

OHMYGOSH!

This one is sooooooo GOOD! First off, several characters from other book series pop up in this one. We meet an Israeli detective named Daniel Sharavi who first appeared in J Kellerman's non-Delaware novel The Butcher's Theater; we meet Hollywood detective Petra Connor who would go on to have her own series (well, two books of her own so far: Billy Straight and Twisted), and there is even a mention of detective Peter Decker who was created by JK's wife, Faye Kellerman. I love a good crossover, so this was fun. This is the first Delaware novel I've read that switches POV. Most of it is still told in the first person by Alex, but there are some chapters told in the third person from other character's POV. That's the way Billy Straight is told and it kind of irritated me with that book, but really didn't bother me as much with this one. Plus, we get an actual description of Alex, who never describes himself.

It starts with a young policeman killing himself in public. This policeman's sister is a nurse at Cedars Sinai, where Rick (Milo's lover) works and Rick asks Alex to talk with her because she is really shook up by it all. But then, Milo asks with some help with a cold case he's been assigned - a case with international overtones. The daughter of an Israeli diplomat was murdered and the original investigators got nowhere. This is where Daniel Sharavi comes in.

The investigation leads to some shocking revelations and Alex agrees to go undercover to investigate. This almost gets him killed. MAN, does he come close to kicking the bucket in this one! Both Daniel and Milo are more-or-less abducted by their respective superiors, which keeps them from backing up Alex and there is a BRILLIANT scene where Milo fakes a heart attack to get away. I mean it - brilliant is the word. And we've never seen Milo so frightened and upset and flat out angry because, of course, he blames himself for endangering Alex in the first place, even though it was Alex who talked him into it.

All's well that ends well, though, so I won't give anything else away. These books just keep getting better!

SPOILERS

No, I am gonna give something away. When Alex goes undercover, he is beaten and drugged and comes *so* close to having a syringe full of potassium chloride shoved into his vein. Not altogether sure why the bad guy stopped when the doorbell rang, but glad he did! This one ties with Bad Love as my fave so far.
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MONSTER (1999)     [****]

Plenty of Milo in this one.

Detective Milo Sturgis has a cold case that is really bothering him - a young upstanding actor butchered and left in the trunk of his own car. The victim was simply a nice guy and it's a completely senseless murder and Milo is ticked off that there are no leads at all. Until another body turns up in another trunk - this time, a young psychologist who worked at Starkweather State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Supposedly no inmate ever leaves Starkweather, but one barely functioning psychopath seems to be having premonitions of murder and Milo asks for help from his old pal Dr. Alex Delaware.

It is an interesting story - lots of twists that get tied up at the end - some suprises. We learn a bit about our heros, which I always like (I'm in it as much for the characters as for the mystery), and lots of long suffering Milo, so overall, I enjoyed the book. For some reason, this one didn't make me want to stay up all night turning pages, though and that's why I gave it only 4 stars.

SPOILERS

There are some tense moments, but Alex is never in any real danger in this one. Milo kills the monster at the end.
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DR. DEATH (2000)     [*****]

Lots of angst!

This was the kind of book that made me go WHEW! when I got to the end. LOTS of tension between Alex and Milo - Alex is lucky Milo is such a nice guy.

The tension begins when Eldon Mate is found brutally murdered. The so-called Dr. Death had made a name for himself by euthanizing dozens of people and now someone has mutilated him and left him hooked up to his own death machine. Detective Milo Sturgis has the case and he requests the assistance of his old pal, Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware. Alex is torn because a referral by a judge friend of his led to him treating a child of one of Mate's victims and now he actually sort of suspects the girl's father may have been capable of killing Mate, but he must not breach doctor/patient confidentiality and hesitates to tell Milo anything. Milo, meanwhile, is having to deal with a couple new D-Is who think they're above scut work and who think nothing of going around Milo's back and smirking about it afterwards. Add one obsessive FBI agent and the stress builds.

There is no shortage of suspects in this one and the investigation goes back and forth - twisty-turny time! The sub-plot dealing with Alex's young patient and her family is a real kicker, too - did Stacy's father kill Mate? Milo thinks so. Alex thinks it's possible, but he very much much wants to think not. Over all, Alex really wears his emotions on his sleeve in this one, his own obsessiveness making him unable to let things go. We see quite a bit of Detective Petra Connor in this one as well (first introduced in Survival of the Fittest and featured in her own book Billy Straight), as she runs interference between Milo and Alex.

The whole case is a total downer for Alex, but it makes for a real page-turner for the reader! Great stuff!

SPOILERS

Alex suffers nothing more than a bruised jaw in this one. The only danger he is in is psychological - losing sleep, distancing himself from Robin, alienating Milo, ticking off the FBI ...
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FLESH & BLOOD (2001)     [*****]

Alex is digging himself a deep hole.

Seems to me Alex has been getting increasingly obsessive over the years and in this one, he is going over the deep end.

Out of nowhere, Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware gets a frantic phone call from the mother of a former patient. Lauren Teague was a troubled teen when Alex tried to treat her years ago - one of his failures. After years on the street, though, the 25 year old woman seems to have turned her life around and is currently a psych major at the U - influenced by her brief visits to Dr. Delaware as a teen. But now, she is missing and her mother fears the worse. Alex does what little he can to try to find her, but when his pal Milo, the homicide detective, finds her murdered, Alex becomes absolutely obsessed.

He starts neglecting his girlfriend Robin, he disregards Milo's warnings and goes snooping on his own. Is it because he feels he failed Lauren all those years ago? Or is the case merely a welcomed distraction from his own disquietude? And he's not his usual erudite self in this one either - he gets a lot of things wrong - almost gets himself killed. He gets enough right, though, to lead Milo in the right direction and eventually the tangled conspiracy is unearthed and the true tragedy is revealed. But at what expense? Will his relationship with Robin survive?

SPOILERS

Yeah, Alex almost gets himself shot in this one - but he always seems to think about Robin as the ominous end nears. Actually, he beats the crap out of the bad guy in this one - really does a job on him and bruises up his own knuckles. But Robin gets fed up and leaves him. He tries to make amends with two tickets to Paris. Will it work? Maybe we'll find out in the next book.
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THE MURDER BOOK (2002)     [*****]

This one deserves 6 or 7 stars!

Man, but this one is a gut-wrencher! Total angst-fest! On the one hand, we have Alex trying to lose himself in this case in order to escape from his own misery now that Robin has left him (again) and on the other hand, we have Milo wallowing in his own fear and self-loathing when those close to him are threatened.

Dr. Alex Delaware receives a notebook labeled "The Murder Book" in the mail. No return address. It is filled with grisly crime scene photos. When he shows it to his friend LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis, the big man is stunned by one of the photos. A blast from the past. The death of Janie Ingalls had been the first really nasty murder Milo had encountered as a young D-I 20 years ago. She was also his first unsolved case. He'd done a good job of putting her out of his mind since then, but now, it all comes rushing back and Milo is not happy.

To add to the detective's despair, it becomes obvious someone is manipulating him and when his lover Rick is threatened, the gloves come off! It takes all his wits to keep ahead of this situation. Those capable of doing what was done to Janie are capable of anything - the danger is real and may be coming from all sides - he can't even trust his own department! He tries to get Alex to back off, but the good doctor needs the distraction to keep his mind off Robin, so he keeps right on doing his tenacious bulldog thing, almost getting himself killed in the process. (Nothing new there, though).

We learn a whole LOT about Alex's and Milo's past in this one and we get some insight as to why these men are the way they are. Great character development, great stuff. If you're interested in the characters in this series as well as the mysteries, then this one is a MUST READ!

SPOILERS

Milo beats up a detective who was following him (the detective who threatened Rick, so the guy is lucky to be alive) and he even punches the Chief of Police in the nose. Then the Chief goes on to promote Milo to Lieutenant. HA!

As for Alex, yeah, Paris does not go well and he blows it with Robin, but in some ways, I can't blame him - if she's gonna leave him, she should make a clean break and stop leaving him dangling over an emotional abyss like this. Alex kills again - self defense, definitely - he shoots the guy three times in the face. Must be easier the second time - he sure doesn't seem to agonize over this one like he did his first. (Maybe because Robin isn't a witness this time?)

INJURY ALERT: Alex suffers a scratched up face and burnt hand.

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A COLD HEART (2003)     [*****]

Will Robin never be out of the picture??

Yeah, Robin irritates me. Okay, this one starts with the murder of Blues guitarist Baby Boy Lee in Hollywood - that's Detective Petra Connor's turf and she features prominently in this one. (She has a new partner now and I like Eric Stahl - hope he sticks around. Yeah, he's weird, but so what?) A short time later, a talented young painter is murdered and Milo Sturgis is handling this case. Milo was recently promoted to Lieutenant, but isn't tied to a desk like most Lieutenants - special deal worked out with the previous Chief of Police before he retired. He works alone and usually handles cold cases, but this dead girl was from his home town and he was specifically asked to look into it. He calls his good friend Dr. Alex Delaware in to help and Alex begins to suspect the two cases may be connected. And there may have been others - artists cut down just as they're about to become famous.

Robin Castagna, Alex's former lover, is a guitar craftsman (craftswoman?) and she had worked on Baby Boy's instruments for years. She and Alex both are listed on the liner notes of Baby Boy's most recent CD - will that make them both potential victims too? Alex goes digging, as usual - starts making broad connections, but he is also dealing with a new relationship and all the uncertainty that entails. We met Psychologist Allison Gwynn in The Murder Book and now he is pursuing her affections - it's nice being with someone who gets it, as she puts it. Robin has a new guy too, but she just irritates me so bad - she wants her nice quiet life with Tim, but she wants to be able to run to Alex whenever she feels like it too - keeping him trapped in emotional limbo.

They're dealing with a very clever and vicious killer and Alex ends up in danger, as usual, but this time it is Robin who puts him there. Allison actually helps keep him safe. I like Allison - hope things work out with her and Alex. Another great twisted tale from the king of great twisted tales.

SPOILERS

Alex doesn't get injured in this one - Eric does, though - BIG TIME! Alex smacks the bad guy in the face with a guitar - ouch! Robin is pretty useless in the fight, but Allison proves to be pretty take charge. (Yeah, okay, the bad guy is already down when she shows up, but still ...)
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THERAPY (2004)     [****]

Smoooooooth.

This was actually the first Kellerman novel I read and I found it kind of dull at first, but that's only because I didn't know any of the situations or people among whom I was thrust. After reading a couple earlier books, I have re-read this one and I now find it interesting. So, I would really have to recommend that one tries to read the series more or less in order.

This one starts out with Alex Delaware seeing a new girlfriend named Allison. Robin has married another man after some ten (?) years with Alex. [I haven't read the one where she actually leaves yet (unless this is the first mention of it), but if she broke his heart ... !] See, I had no idea who Robin was first time I read this - makes a difference. The cuuuuute little dog named Spike makes an appearance too. First time I read it, he was just an irritating little squirt, but now I know just how adorable he can really be and it was nice seeing him again.

Alex's police pal Milo is a lieutenant now and can pick and choose his cases. He and Alex are together when they come across a grisly crime scene. A young couple has been brutally murdered and the woman can not even be identified. Milo draws Alex into the investigation and it gets complicated. Everything seems to lead back to the dead boy's psychologist and when she turns up murdered too, things really start cooking with gas!

I adore Detective Milo Sturgis. I know Alex is the star, but I can't help it. Milo is such a great character!

SPOILERS

No injuries to our heroes, but Milo is pinned down by a sniper, although, I don't think the sniper ever had any intention of shooting him.
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RAGE (2005)     [*****]

Another sleepless night with this page-turner and worth it!

Once again, it's a phone call and a voice from the past that gets Dr. Alex Delaware involved in murder and mayhem. Rand Duchay had been an illiterate 13 year old when he helped to kill a little girl eight years ago and Delaware had been called upon to evaluate him (and the other 13 year old murderer, Troy Turner, who didn't survive his incarceration). Anyway, Rand is a 21 year old man now, and has just been released. He calls from a payphone and says he wants to talk about the murder. Alex agrees to meet him, but Rand stands him up. Eventually, homicide detective Milo Sturgis is able to explain why the troubled young man never showed - he was busy being murdered. Milo tells Alex to forget about it, but we know Alex, don't we? He wants to know why Duchay called him, starts tossing around theories and sucks Milo into an investigation that begins to unearth some very nasty creatures.

More relationship troubles for Alex and this time he is completely blameless. He may have given Robin reason to leave (even though she refuses to actually leave), but Allison's problem is all hers! Not sure where that relationship is going to end up. It's a shame, because I liked Allison - you know, before she went all freaky. Poor Spike - the cute pooch? - is not doing well. Seems old age is creeping up on him.

There's a scene at the climax that is ... well, pretty gross. Like Alex, I'm pretty good at conjuring mental images too and these descriptions were pretty vivid. Just a warning to the faint-hearted.

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GONE (2006)     [*****]

Can Alex's life get any more complicated?

Dylan and Michaela are a couple of young acting students who stage an abduction for the publicity, but they get more than they bargained for. When they're arrested, Dr. Alex Delaware is asked to evaluate Michaela. The case is pled out and that's the end of it. Until Michaela is found murdered and her friend Dylan vanishes. Now Lieutenant Milo Sturgis is involved and what he and Alex uncover is very ugly indeed.

There is some heartbreak in this one when Spike (the dog) dies (I cried), and some humor as Alex tries to juggle two women while high on Demerol. Poor Milo is overworked on this case, but the danger for Alex surprisingly comes from a civil case. Will he get back together with Robin? Or maybe with Allison? Will he get another dog? The banter between Alex and Milo is what keeps me going with these books and I enjoyed the subplot about the unethical Psychologist. (Alex writes a report about him for the court).

I've seen so many reviews of books from this series that complain of Alex being too perfect - are you reading the same books I am? Alex is an idiot! Course, if he didn't dig into things that are none of his business and if he didn't walk straight into danger, there'd be no story, would there? I adore him, but he's obsessive, reckless, downright obtuse at times and he can't seem to get anything right relationship-wise.

Milo, on the other hand is perfect. In every way.

SPOILERS

Alex is asked to write up a report on a fellow Psychologist accused of sexual misconduct. Simple, right? This guy really loses it, though. He accosts Alex and Robin at a resaurant and gets knocked on his butt. So then he lures Alex to Allison's office, kicks the crap out of him and threatens Allison at knife point to get Alex to write a retraction. Alex ends up using Allison's little chrome friend to blow out both the guy's knees. Ouch. Then Alex tries to deal with both women in the hospital while high on Demerol - very amusing.

Robin moves back in and brings a little furry friend - a French Bulldog pup - female this time, so Alex won't have to compete for Robin's affections. Let's see how things work out with Robin this time.

INJURY ALERT: Alex suffers several bruised cervical disks and several broken ribs in the attack by the crazed Psychologist.

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OBSESSION (2007)     [*****]

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COMPULSION (2008)     [*****]

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BONES (2008)     [****]

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EVIDENCE (2009)     [****]

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DECEPTION (2010)     [rate]

NON-ALEX DELAWARE FICTION
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THE BUTCHER'S THEATRE (1988)     [*****]

When I finished the last page of this book my first reaction was What kind of twisted mind would write such a thing? The villain in this is as evil as it gets and the things he does - just horrific. But, then ... I don't think the book is really all that graphic. Rather, I suspect it is actually my own twisted little brain that filled in all the nasty details.

I love the characters in this book. For me, reading is all about the characters - if I don't care about them, why should I care what happens to them? This is about a murder investigation in Israel. Since this is one of the first serial killers they've ever had (The first being The Grey Man who was never caught), the investigation team is a bit inexperienced with this sort of thing. The team includes:
- Chief Inspector Daniel Sharavi who's left hand was crippled in the war of '67.
- Inspector Nahum Shmeltzer, the older detective ready to retire and kind of angry at the world.
- Subinspector Yossi Lee, the big huge "Chinaman."
- Sergeant Elias Daoud, the Christian Arab who just wants to do his job.
- Sergeant Avi Cohen, the spoiled rich kid with dyslexia.
Daniel, I already knew and liked from Survival of the Fittest which came after this one, but I read them out of order. After him, I liked Shmeltzer best - just something about skinny, cranky old men ...

Anyway, someone is mutilating beautiful young Arab women and leaving their washed and wrapped bodies around the area of Jerusalem known as The Butcher's Theater. Tensions are running high as Jews and Arabs play the blame game. But is it political at all? Or is it just some psychopath out for sick sexual thrills? Due to the nature of the slashings, it is suspected that a doctor may be responsible and there are no shortage of suspects.

The story is very tense and takes you all around the city of Jerusalem as we get a glimpse into the extent of cultural diversity there. I kind of suspected who the killer was early on, but wasn't sure and often doubted. The reader is privy to information not available to the investigators, though, as some chapters are told from inside the killer's head. With the help of Daniel's visiting American friend, LAPD Detective Gene Brooker, the clues slowly but surely pile up..

This is a long book. My little paperback copy is a heavy thing on 628 thin pages with small type, but never once while reading it did I think it was dragging on too long. It's a page turner with a heart-pounding climax. I HIGHLY recommend it.

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BILLY STRAIGHT (1998)     [****]

A change of pace.

I love Kellerman's Alex Delaware series, but this one is not a part of that series. This one features Detective Petra Connor, who is a homicide detective in LA and has worked with Alex and his friend Detective Milo Sturgis in the past. (Alex does make a brief appearance, though).

Petra is an interesting character - she's an artist as well as a detective - and several other detectives are nicely fleshed out as well. It's a cool story about the brutal murder of a TV Star's ex-wife. Twelve year old runaway Billy Straight is the only eye witness to the murder and we follow his fearful flight through the city as well as the police investigation and how wealth and fame obstructs the investigation. It's a twisty plot and, while I had figured out who the killer was by the end (the very end), I wasn't SURE, so it's a bit of a surprise.

The narrative style kind of threw me with this one. The Alex Delaware novels are told in the first person with Alex telling the story - my favorite kind of narrative. This one jumps around from first person POV as Billy to third person limited from different character's POV. It was not particularly difficult to follow, as each chapter has a consistent point of view, but it was a little disconcerting for me and that's the only reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. Oh, that and a cutsie bit at the end I thought the story could easily have done without.

Overall, it's a tense story as poor Billy is pursued by perverts, the killer, the police and anyone out for the reward.

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THE CONSPIRACY CLUB (2003)     [*****]

A real puzzle.

Author Jonathan Kellerman is best known for his Alex Delaware series, but this one features another Psychologist named Dr. Jeremy Carrier. I like him. He's nothing like Alex. Jeremy is feeling kind of numb following the brutal murder of his girlfriend Jocelyn. Not only does he have to deal with the grief and shock of losing her, but he seems to be the prime suspect and the Police start hounding him when another body shows up. It's kind of funny because everyone seems to think he's such a calm, cool and collected guy when he's really broiling inside. He snaps and yells at a couple doctors and suddenly gets respect. He ignores his patients and they love him - apparently mistaking his apathy as some sort of Zen togetherness. He is basically sleepwalking through life until Dr. Arthur Chess, the Pathologist, enters the scene. He draws Jeremy out - with a sort of game. A game that turns deadly. Someone - Jeremy is pretty sure it's Arthur - is sending him strange, seemingly unrelated medical articles and news clippings. Eventually, he decides this has something to do with the murders and his curiosity gets the better of him and he starts digging, trying to put this puzzle together before another woman dies. Eventually, he is finally able to open up to another woman, but just when he starts to get domestic with Angela, he feels her life is being threatened by the killer too.

Can he figure it out in time to save her? And can he survive a confrontation with the sadistic psychopath? Or will the police arrest him for crimes he didn't commit before he even gets the chance?

It's a fast read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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DOUBLE HOMICIDE (2004)     [****]
    (With Faye Kellerman)

Great read!

Best selling spouses Faye and Jonathan Kellerman got together and collaborated on this one. Well, not really - it is two separate stories in one volume, but it's fun. I'd seen copies that were flip style - one story on one side, flip it over and the other story starts on the other side, know what I mean? The copy I have isn't like that, though - it is just one after the other and I really don't know who wrote which story, although, I have my suspicions. They are both great stories.

The first one is called In The Land of Giants and takes place in Boston. Basketball is the name of the game in this one, as a flagrant foul on the court spills over to gun fire at a night club after the game and a brilliant young athlete ends up dead. Detectives Dorothy Breton and Michael McCain arrive at the scene after a frantic call from Dorothy's son, who is a ball player and was present at the club during the shooting. Dorothy is understandably quite shaken up - it could easily have been her boy laying dead and she is friends with the victim's mother. The investigation leads down some unexpected roads and even the ME gets actively involved in this one.

I really like the characters in this - especially Mickey - Detective McCain. He is just too amusing. Gosh, I shouldn't be amused at his misery, but I am. He laments the fact that he used to be God's gift to women and now he's kind of gone to seed. He's a great friend, though and I really like him.

The second one is called Still Life and takes place in Santa Fe. Detectives Darrel Two Moons and Steve Katz are called out to investigate the murder of a prominent art dealer. The case is not an easy one because the victim was a real SOB and any number of people would have loved to see him dead - it's a matter of too many suspects. Slowly, but surely they start to uncover the shocking truth and the end of this one really was a bit of a shocker. One of those stories that made me go 'WHOA!' when I read the last page.

I really like the characters in this one too. Especially Katz - probably for the same reason I like Mickey - he's wallowing in misery since his wife left him. She's a real flake, but a captivating flake and she's actually the one who provides the info that cracks the case.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. And since I could read one story one night and the other the next, I didn't have to loose sleep trying to read the entire book in one night!

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TWISTED (2004)     [*****]

Thoroughly enjoyable.

This novel features Detective Petra Connor, previously featured in several Alex Delaware novels as well as another of her own called Billy Straight. I like her - she's cute, she's talented, she's tough ... She can't have children, though, and she's always whining about it. I just want to tell her: So you're sterile - get over it! You're young, you can adopt, it's not the end of the world! She also thinks about Detective Milo Sturgis a lot - he's the main detective in the Alex Delaware novels and Petra has worked with him a few times. As often as she mentions him, though, it's obvious she has a crush on him. And why not? He's tough, fair, charming - safe as only a gay guy can be.

Anyway, in this one, Petra's partner, Eric Stahl (who we first met in the Alex Delaware novel Cold Heart) is now her lover and is training in anti-terrorist tactics in Jerusalem (where he meets Detective Daniel Sharavi, star of his own novel The Butcher's Theatre and with whom Petra worked in Survival of the Fittest) I like Eric - he's weird, he's cool and I hope the author keeps him around. Oh, and there is a cameo appearance by Santa Fe Detectives Darrel Two Moons and Steven Katz from the book Double Homicide. Maybe I'm weird, but I like crossovers, so that was fun.

So, with Eric gone, Petra is working alone again - this time on a drive-by shooting that killed four young teens in front of a theatre. Plus a boy-genius arrives as an intern and she is assigned baby sitting duty. Isaac is pretty sharp, though, and he discovers an annual serial killing pattern, which sets Petra off on an unsanctioned investigation that takes on more and more urgency as the fatal date draws nearer. So, it's a race against time and requires a certain bucking of the system since, for some unknown reason, Petra's Captain doesn't like her - he thinks she is some sort of prima donna, I don't know. So, there's lots of tension, some angst, some steamy sex (Yeah, Eric returns), plus a few surprises along the way and it kept me turning the pages, so what more can a reader ask for?

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CAPITAL CRIMES (2006)     [*****]
    (With Faye Kellerman)

NON-FICTION
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PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF CHILDHOOD CANCER (1980)     [rate]

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HELPING THE FEARFUL CHILD (1981)     [rate]

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SAVAGE SPAWN: REFLECTIONS ON VIOLENT CHILDREN (1999)     [****]

Interesting Read.

I was living in Jonesboro, Arkansas when Andrew Golden & Mitchell Johnson opened fire at their middle school. It was like, this sort of thing isn't supposed to happen in MY town. And they were only 11 and 13 years old! This little book was written shortly after the shooting as a sort of venting mechanism and I was curious to read Dr. Kellerman's take on it all.

He's very blunt about the fact that some people are just evil (or psychopathic) and this evil (or psychopathy) can manifest itself as early as two years old. There's no way to cure this, but if it is caught early enough, it can be controlled and that's where the system is failing. It's very straight forward, but like I said, very ventful too. He explains why the system doesn't work and has lots of ideal ideas of how to fix it, but he admits the world is not an ideal place and over all, we do the best we can.

I'm a fan of Dr. Kellerman's novels and I did notice the germ of some characters in the case examples he cites here. Pretty scary stuff.

So, no, this little volume doesn't provide any earth shattering cure-alls, but it is refreshing to hear a professional admit that there are no simple answers. I found it very interesting.

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WITH STRINGS ATTACHED (2007)     [rate]

CHILDREN'S BOOKS
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DADDY, DADDY, CAN YOU TOUCH THE SKY? (1994)     [***]

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JONATHAN KELLERMAN'S ABC OF WEIRD CREATURES (date)     [rate]

MULTI-MEDIA
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When The Bough Breaks (1986)     [*****]
Made for TV movie starring Ted Danson as Alex Delaware and Richard Masure as Milo Sturgis. Directed by Waris Hussein. Won the Edgar Award for Best Television Feature or Miniseries in 1987. See more at the Internet Movie Database.

Loved this film!

This is a made for TV movie based on the novel of the same name written by Jonathan Kellerman. Ted Danson is great as Dr. Alex Delaware, but Richard Masur is perfect as Detective Milo Sturgis. I mean, his hair is more red than black and he's a couple inches too short, but still - so perfect.

It follows the book fairly closely and starts with the trial of a notorious pedaphile. Dr. Alex Delaware is the child psychologist assigned to help threat the traumatized victims and when the defendant (out on bail) commits suicide in his office, the whole thing is too much for Alex and he retires.

Retirement is taking it's toll, though - Alex is a mess, so his pal Detective Milo Sturgis figures getting him involved in another case will help get him out of his funk. Well, it works too damned well and he has created a Police Consultant monster as Alex goes off on his own investigating and stepping on toes and making Milo's life a little more difficult in the bargain.

It's a nasty tale of big shot perversion and Alex digs deep enough to endanger his own life. Can Milo get to him in time to save him?

The ending is a little different than the book and I haven't decided yet which I like better.

It's a nice little film - I really like the fact that it's not condescending - it doesn't explain everything in neat little sound bytes - you might have to think a little bit on your own to figure everything out, which means you might realize something new each time you watch it. The chemistry between Alex and Milo and between Milo and his lover Rick is just too damned cute.

Visit my PETER & RINA DECKER site for reviews of books by Jonathan's wife, Faye Kellerman.


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