The Butcher's Theater

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They call the ancient hills of Jerusalem the butcher's theater. Here, upon this bloodstained stage, a faceless killer performs his violent specialty: The first to die brutally is a fifteen-year-old girl. She is drained of blood, then carefully bathed and shrouded in white. Precisely one week later, a second victim is found. From the sacred Wailing Wall to the monasteries where dark secrets are cloistered, from black-clad bedouin enclaves to labyrinthine midnight alleys, veteran police inspector Daniel Sharavi and...
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Overview

They call the ancient hills of Jerusalem the butcher's theater. Here, upon this bloodstained stage, a faceless killer performs his violent specialty: The first to die brutally is a fifteen-year-old girl. She is drained of blood, then carefully bathed and shrouded in white. Precisely one week later, a second victim is found. From the sacred Wailing Wall to the monasteries where dark secrets are cloistered, from black-clad bedouin enclaves to labyrinthine midnight alleys, veteran police inspector Daniel Sharavi and his crack team plunge deep into a city simmering with religious and political passions to hunt for a murderer whos insatiable taste for young women could destroy the delicate balance on which Jerusalem's very survival depends.

A brilliant novel by a master of the genre, a vivid look at the tortured complexities of a psychopath's mind, a rich evocation of a city steeped in history -- this, and more, is The Butcher's Theater.

For all its many crimes of passion and politics, Jerusalem has only once before been victimized by a serial killer. Now the elusive psychopath is back, slipping through the fingers of police inspector Daniel Sharavi. And one murderer with a taste for young Arab women can destroy the delicate balance Jerusalem needs to survive.

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Editorial Reviews

Bill O'Reilly
Mr. Kellerman has a fine descriptive style and his dialogue is crisp and believable. . . he comes up with an intense 50-page finale that will stimulate even the most jaded mystery fan. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his fourth mystery, Kellerman leaves Los Angeles and Alex Delaware, child-psychologist hero of When the Bough Breaks and Blood Test, for the richness of Jerusalem and the subtle complexities of Chief Inspector Daniel Sharavi. The latter is a Yemenite Jew, a quiet and intense war hero with a California-born wife and three young children. When the extensively mutilated body of a young Arab girl is found, Sharavi assembles a group of assistants whose varied ethnic origins represent the composition of the city and state. After a second Arab girl is similarly killed, the case is given political significance in the press, leading to an Arab-Jewish riot and more bloodshed. As the investigation intensifies, Kellerman intersperses chapters that reveal the development of the killer's psychopathology, but not his identity. A third murder focuses Sharavi's attention on Amelia Catherine, the city's U.N.-run hospital, where finally he and the killer meet in a prolonged and graphic fight to the death. Dense with the textures of life in modern-day Jerusalem, Kellerman's story is both police proceduralit is dogged investigation, international and high-tech, that puts the last pieces in placeand penetrating psychological suspense-thriller. Panoramic in geography, layered in history, the novel is powered by close attention to the interior lives and motivations of its major characters, one of whom, a psychologist, may well be the author in guest appearance. This is a major novel, Kellerman's most ambitious and strongest to date. 100,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; Literary Guild and Mystery Guild selections; author tour. (March)
Library Journal
The horribly mutilated body of a young womanthe first of a grim seriesis discovered in Jerusalem, and Chief Inspector Daniel Sharavi takes charge. The ambitious scope of this extensively detailed and forcefully written novel, however, encompasses much more than mystery. Kellerman immerses the reader in the cultural ambience of Jerusalem and delves deeply into character and motivation; he creates well-drawn images, a vicious and unnerving psychopathic villain, and a chillingly gruesome confrontation scene. A stunning work from the author of When the Bough Breaks . REK
From the Publisher
"Crisp ... suspenseful ... intense." — The  New York Times Book Review

  "Spellbinding ... a fascinating tale." —  Time

"A finish as tense  and suspensful as that of The Day Of The  Jackal or Eye Of The  Needle. " — USA Today  

"This one is going to scare the hell out of a lot  of people on its way to the bestseller lists"  — Elmore Leonard

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553275100
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/1989
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REISSUE
  • Pages: 640
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Kellerman

Jonathan Kellerman is one of the world’s most popular authors. He has brought his expertise as a clinical psychologist to more than thirty bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher’s Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted, and True Detectives. With his wife, the novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored the bestsellers Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. He is the author of numerous essays, short stories, scientific articles, two children’s books, and three volumes of psychology, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children, as well as the lavishly illustrated With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars. He has won the Goldwyn, Edgar, and Anthony awards and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California, New Mexico, and New York. Their four children include the novelists Jesse Kellerman and Aliza Kellerman.

Biography

"I like to say that as a psychologist I was concerned with the rules of human behavior," Jonathan Kellerman has said. "As a novelist, I'm concerned with the exceptions." Both roles are evident in Kellerman's string of bestselling psychological thrillers, in which he probes the hidden corners of the human psyche with a clinician's expertise and a novelist's dark imagination.

Kellerman worked for years as a child psychologist, but his first love was writing, which he started doing at the age of nine. After reading Ross MacDonald's Lew Archer novels, however, Kellerman found his voice as a writer -- and his calling as a suspense novelist. His first published novel, When the Bough Breaks, featured a child psychologist, Dr. Alex Delaware, who helps solve a murder case in which the only apparent witness is a traumatized seven-year-old girl. The book was an instant hit; as New York's Newsday raved, "[T]his knockout of an entertainment is the kind of book which establishes a career in one stroke."

Kellerman has since written a slew more Alex Delaware thrillers; not surprisingly, the series hero shares much of Kellerman's own background. The books often center on problems of family psychopathology—something Kellerman had ample chance to observe in his day job. The Delaware novels have also chronicled the shifting social and cultural landscape of Los Angeles, where Kellerman lives with his wife (who is also a health care practitioner-turned-novelist) and their four children.

A prolific author who averages one book a year, Kellerman dislikes the suggestion that he simply cranks them out. He has a disciplined work schedule, and sits down to write in his office five days a week, whether he feels "inspired" or not. "I sit down and start typing. I think it's important to deromanticize the process and not to get puffed up about one's abilities," he said in a 1998 chat on Barnes & Noble.com. "Writing fiction's the greatest job in the world, but it's still a job. All the successful novelists I know share two qualities: talent and a good work ethic."

And he does plenty of research, drawing on medical databases and current journals as well as his own experience as a practicing psychologist. Then there are the field trips: before writing Monster, Kellerman spent time at a state hospital for the criminally insane.

Kellerman has taken periodic breaks from his Alex Delaware series to produce highly successful stand-alone novels that he claims have helped him to gain some needed distance from the series characters. It's a testament to Kellerman's storytelling powers that the series books and the stand-alones have both gone over well with readers; clearly, Kellerman's appeal lies more in his dexterity than in his reliance on a formula. "Often mystery writers can either plot like devils or create believable characters," wrote one USA Today reviewer. "Kellerman stands out because he can do both. Masterfully."

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Jonathan Kellerman:
"I am the proud husband of a brilliant novelist, Faye Kellerman. I am the proud father of a brilliant novelist, Jesse Kellerman. And three lovely, gifted daughters, one of whom, Aliza, may turn out to be one of the greatest novelists/poets of this century. "

"My first job was selling newspapers on a corner, age 12. Then I delivered liquor, age 16 -- the most engaging part of that gig was schlepping cartons of bottles up stairways in building without elevators. Adding insult to injury, tips generally ranged from a dime to a quarter. And, I was too young to sample the wares. Subsequent jobs included guitar teacher, freelance musician, newspaper cartoonist, Sunday School teacher, youth leader, research/teaching assistant. All of that simplified when I was 24 and earned a Ph.D. in psychology. Another great job. Then novelist? Oh, my, an embarrassment of riches. Thank you, thank you, thank you, kind readers. I'm the luckiest guy in the world.

"I paint, I play the guitar, I like to hang out with intelligent people whose thought processes aren't by stereotype, punditry, political correctness, etc. But enough about me. The important thing is The Book."

More fun facts:
After Kellerman called his literary agent to say that his wife, Faye, had written a novel, the agent reluctantly agreed to take a look ("Later, he told me his eyes rolled all the way back in his head," Kellerman said in an online chat). Two weeks later, a publisher snapped up Faye Kellerman's first book, The Ritual Bath. Faye Kellerman has since written many more mysteries featuring L.A. cop Peter Decker and his wife Rina Lazarus, including the bestsellers Justice and Jupiter's Bones.

When Kellerman wrote When the Bough Breaks in 1981, crime novels featuring gay characters were nearly nonexistent, so Alex Delaware's gay detective friend, Milo Sturgis, was a rarity. Kellerman admits it can be difficult for a straight writer to portray a gay character, but says the feedback he's gotten from readers -- gay and straight -- has been mostly positive.

In his spare time, Kellerman is a musician who collects vintage guitars. He once placed the winning online auction bid for a guitar signed by Don Henley and his bandmates from the Eagles; proceeds from the sale were donated to the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

In addition to his novels, Kellerman has written two children's books and three nonfiction books, including Savage Spawn, about the backgrounds and behaviors of child psychopaths.

But for a 1986 television adaptation of When the Bough Breaks, none of Kellerman's work has yet made it to screen. "I wish I could say that Hollywood's beating a path to my door," he said in a Barnes & Noble.com chat in 1998, "but the powers-that-be at the studios don't seem to feel that my books lend themselves to film adaptation. The most frequent problem cited is too much complexity."

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    1. Hometown:
      Beverly Hills, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 9, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A. in psychology, University of California-Los Angeles; Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1974
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

I
Spring 1985
Yaakov Schlesinger could think only of food.
Idiot, he told himself. Immersed in such beauty and unable to take your mind off your belly.
Unclipping his flashlight from his belt, he beamed it briefly on the southern gate of the campus. Satisfied that the lock was in place, he hitched up his trousers and trudged forward in the darkness, determined to ignore tha gnawing from within.
The Mount Scopus Road climbed suddenly, but it was a rise that he knew well–what was this, his two hundredth patrol?–and he remained sure-footed. Veering to the left, he walked toward the eastern ridge and looked out, with a pleasurable sense of vertigo, at nothingness: the unlit expanse of the Judean wilderness. In less than an hour dawn would break and sunlight would flood the desert like honeyed porridge dripping thickly into an earthenware bowl . . . ach, there it was again. Food.
Still, he rationalized, a bowl was exactly what it looked like to him. Or maybe a dinner plate. A broad, concave disk of desert, chalky-white, seamed with copper, dotted by mesquite and pocked with caves–a gigantic cracked dinner plate tipping into the Dead Sea. Any terrorist foolish enough to try to cross the wilderness would be as conspicuous as a fly on paper, certain to be spotted by the Border Patrol long before reaching the Ma’ale Adumin settlement. Which made his job, he supposed, little more than a formality. An old man’s assignment.
He absently touched the butt of the M-1 carbine strapped over his shoulder and experienced a sudden rush of memories. A twinge of melancholy that he suppressed by telling himself he had nothing to complain about. That heshould be thankful for the opportunity to volunteer. Grateful for the opportunity to volunteer. Grateful for the nightly exercise, the cool, fragrant air. Proud of the slap of the M-1 against his shoulder blades, the crisp Hagah uniform that made him feel like a soldier again.
A scurrying sound crackled somewhere beyond the ridge and caused his heart to jump. He pulled the carbine down, held it in both hands, and waited. Silence, then another scurry, this time easy to classify: the frantic dash of a rodent or shrew. Letting out his breath, he kept his right hand clamped around the M-1, took the flashlight in his left, and skimmed the beam over the brush. A clump of weeds. A filmy swirl of night-flying insects.
Stepping away from the ridge, he commenced walking south. The barrenness of the road was broken at the crest by a stolid, many-roofed mass huddled around a high, peaked tower: the Amelia Catherine Hospital, arrogantly colonial on this Levantine stretch of mountaintop. Because the hospital compound was U.N. property, it was excluded from his route, but sometimes he liked to stop and take a break just outside the grounds. Smoke a cigarette and watch as the odor of Turkish tobacco stirred the goats and donkeys penned behind the main building. Why, he wondered, were the Arabs allowed to keep animals here? What did that say for the hygiene of the place?
His stomach growled. Absurd. He’d eaten a hearty dinner at eight, spent the next four hours sitting on the balcony while slowly ingesting the food Eva set out for him before she went to bed: dried apricots and apples, a string of fat Calimyrna figs, tea wafers, lemon cookies, marzipan, tangerines and kumquats, toasted gar’inim, jagged chunks of bittersweet chocolate, jelly candies, halvah. Topped off by an entire liter bottle of grapefruit juice and a Sipholux full of soda–the last in hopes that gas bubbles might accomplish what solid matter had failed to do: fill him up. No such luck.
He’d lived with his hunger–and its accomplice, insomnia–for more than forthy years. Long enough to think of them as a pair of living, breathing creatures. Abdominal homunculi implanted by the bastards at Dachau. Twin demons who scraped away at his peace of mind, evoking constant misery. True, it wasn’t cancer, but neither was it trivial.
The pain fluctuated. At best, a dull, maddeningly abstract hollowness; at worst, real, grinding agony, as if an iron hand were clamped around his vitals.
No one took him seriously anymore. Eva said he was fortunate to be able to eat whatever he wanted and remain skinny. This, as she pinched the soft ring around her own thickening waistline and examined the latest diet brochure handed out at the Kupat Holim clinic. And the doctors delighted in telling him there was nothing wrong with him. That the experiments had left no tangible scars. He was a superb specimen, they insisted, possessing the alimentary tract, and general constitution, of a man twenty years younger.
“You’re seventy years old, Mr. Schlesinger,” one of them had explained before settling back with a self-satisfied smirk on his face. As if that settled it. An active metabolism, another had pronounced. “Be thankful you’re as active as you are, adoni.” Still another had listened with apparent sympathy, raising his hopes, then dashing them by suggesting that he visit the Psychiatric Facility at Hadassah. Which only illustrated that the man was just another civil-service idiot–the gnawing was in his belly, not in his head. He vowed to cease all dealings with the clinic and find himself a private doctor, cost be damned. Someone who could understand what it was like to feel as if you were starving amid plenty, who could appreciate the bottomless ache that had plagued him since the Americans had discovered him, lying limply atop a mound of stinking, broken corpses. . . .
Enough, fool. Ancient history. You’re free, now. A soldier. The man in charge, armed and masterful. Privileged to patrol the most beautiful cities at the most beautiful hours. To watch her awaken, bathed in lavender and scarlet light, like a princess rising from a bed canopied with silk . . .
Schlesinger the poet.
He took a deep breath, filled his nostrils with the sharp perfume of Jerusalem pine, and turned away from the looming silhouette of the hospital. Exhaling slowly, he gazed out over the steeply sloping terraces of Wadi el Joz, toward the view from the southwest, the one he always saved for last:
The Old City, backlit in amber, turrets and battlements stitching a flame-colored hem across the pure black sky. Beyond the walls, faint shadowy contours of domes, spires, steeples, and minarets. At the southern end the vertical thrust of The Citadel. Dominating the north, the Haram esh-Sharif plateau, upon which sat the Great Mosque of the Rock, its golden dome burnished rosy in the half-light, nestled within the sleeping city like a brooch cradled in gray velvet.
Immersed in beauty like that, how could he think of his belly? And yet, the ache had intensified, quickened, taken on a pulse of its own.
Angry, he picked up his pace and crossed the road. Just off the asphalt was a shallow gully leading to the empty fields that anticipated the wadi. Casually, he ran the flashlight over familiar terrain. The same damned contours, the same damned shadows. This olive tree, that row of border stones. The rusty abandoned water heater that had been there for months, glints of broken glass, the sharp stink of sheep dung . . .
And something else.
An oblong shape, maybe a meter and a half long, tucked into a terraced pocket near the top of the north wall of the gully. Lying inert at the base of an olive sapling. Unmoving. A bomb? His instinctive answer was no–it looked too soft. But one couldn’t be too careful.
As he considered his options, his arm began to move, seemingly of its own volition, sweeping the flashlight beam over the shape. Up and down, back and forth. This was definitely something new. Striped? No, two tones of fabric. Dark over light. A blanket over sheeting. A shroud. Glistening wet and dark around the edges.
The light continued to wash across the gully. Nothing. No one. He considered calling for help, decided it would be needlessly alarmist. Better to check first.
Carbine in hand, he inched to the rim of the gully, began climbing down, then stopped, his feet suddenly leaden. Short of breath. Fatigued. Feeling his age. Deliberating some more, he berated himself: Milksop. A pile of blankets turns you to jelly? Probably nothing.
He resumed his descent, zigging and zagging toward the shape, extending his free arm horizontally in an attempt to maintain balance. Stopping every few seconds to aim the flashlight. Radar-eyed. Ears attuned to alien sounds. Prepared at any moment to drop the light and pull the M-1 into firing position. But nothing moved; the silence remained unblemished. Just him and the shape. The foreign shape.
As he lowered himself farther, the ground dipped abruptly. He stumbled, fought for equilibrium, dug his heels in, and remained upright. Good. Very good for an old man. Active metabolism . . .
He was almost there now, just a few feet away. Stop. Check the area for other foreign shapes. The hint of movement. Nothing. Wait. Go on. Take a good look. Avoid that mound of dung. Step around the panicky scatter of glossy black beetles. Tiny black legs scampering over clots of dung. Onto something pale. Something extending from the sheeting. Pale lozenges.
He was standing over the shape now. Kneeling. Chest tautened by breath withheld. Tilting his light downward, he saw them, soft and speckled like small white cucumbers: human fingers. The soft pad of palm. Speckled. Night-black. Edged with crimson. An outstretched hand. Beseeching.
Pinching a corner of the blanket between his fingers, he began peeling it back with the foreboding and compulsion of a child turning over a rock, knowing all the while that slimy things lived on the underside.
There. Done. He let go of the fabric and stared at what he’d exposed.
Lock-jawed, he moaned involuntarily. He was–had been–a soldier, had seen his share of abominations. But this was different. Clinical. So terribly reminiscent of something else . . .
Averting his eyes, he felt them swing back again and lock on to the contents of the blanket, imbibing the horror. Suddenly he was reeling, swaying, bobbing helplessly in a sea of images. Memories. Other hands, other nightmares. Hands. The same pose of supplication. Thousands of hands, a mountain of hands. Begging for mercy that never came.
Rising unsteadily, he took hold of an olive limb and exhaled in fierce, hot gusts. Sickened to the core, yet not unaware of the irony of the moment.
For what lay within the sheets had demolished the demons, freeing him for the first time in more than forty years.
He felt his viscera begin to churn. The iron hand letting go. A burning tide of bile rose uncontrollably in his gullet. Retching and heaving, he vomited repeatedly in the dirt, one part of him curiously detached, as if her were observing his own defilement. Careful to direct the spray away from the blankets. Not wishing to worsen what had already been done.
When he’d emptied himself he looked down again with a child’s magical hope. Believing, for an instant, that his emesis had served as a ritual, a sacrificial atonement that had somehow caused the horror to vanish.
But the only thing that had vanished was his hunger.

Copyright© 2003 by Jonathan Kellerman
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2008

    LEAST LIKED J, KELLERMAN BOOK

    This book is entirely too long and dragged out. I have completed only 1/2 yhe book when i am otherwise through three books by this author in the same amount of time

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2013

    Very good.

    I liked the part where Daniel was visiting his father when he was off duty.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    The Butcher's Theatre by Jonathan Kellerman

    I enjoy reading Jonathan Kellerman's novels, and the Butcher's Theatre is a masterpiece! Daisy

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2001

    One great book in a long list of Kellerman successes

    The Butcher's Theatre is one of the best books that i've read. It takes you on a ride that you don't want to finish, I never wanted to put the book down. Jonathan Kellerman knows how to grip his readers with intrigue, mystery and a good dose of suspense that makes this book a must read.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted April 12, 2013

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