Devil's Waltz (Alex Delaware Series #7)

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Overview

Crime begins in the mind. Through seven successive bestsellers, child psychologist Jonathan Kellerman has used his intimate knowledge of human nature to create some of the most brilliantly deceptive, emotionally gripping storylines in suspense fiction today. Now his psychologist-detective Dr. Alex Delaware become caught up in a case as chilling and harrowing as any he has ever faced. Twenty-one-month-old Cassie Jones is bright, energetic, and as perfect to look at as a porcelain doll. But her pediatrician, Dr. ...
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Devil's Waltz (Alex Delaware Series #7)

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Overview

Crime begins in the mind. Through seven successive bestsellers, child psychologist Jonathan Kellerman has used his intimate knowledge of human nature to create some of the most brilliantly deceptive, emotionally gripping storylines in suspense fiction today. Now his psychologist-detective Dr. Alex Delaware become caught up in a case as chilling and harrowing as any he has ever faced. Twenty-one-month-old Cassie Jones is bright, energetic, and as perfect to look at as a porcelain doll. But her pediatrician, Dr. Stephanie Eves, is baffled and disturbed at the ordeal that has dominated her young patient's life. Over the past eighteen months, Cassie has been rushed to the emergency room at Western Pediatrics Hospital with alarming frequency, suffering from a variety of medical symptoms. Each time Cassie is admitted, Dr. Eves struggles to come up with a diagnosis. Each time she fails. In the wake of yet another crisis, she calls in her old friend and colleague, Dr. Alex Delaware. Although there is no concrete evidence, Alex's instinct tells him someone is deliberately attempting to make Cassie ill. To his horror, heading up the list of suspects are Cassie's parents, Chip and Cindy Jones. But when he meets the pair, he finds an attractive, caring couple - loving parents, helpless and frightened, reaching out for the answer to their daughter's tribulations. And the more time Alex spends at Western Pediatrics, the more convinced he becomes that something very disturbing is going on in the hospital itself. Years ago Alex had begun his career at Western Peds, but the place to which he returns makes him feel like a stranger: security is being enforced by a squadron of stony-faced centurions. Doctors and nurses are demoralized and are leaving in droves. A dark wariness pervades a once upbeat place, perhaps brought on by the hospital's crushing financial problems. And the newly appointed financial savior is Chuck Jones, a brilliant money-man - and Cassie Jones's grandfather
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kellerman's psychologist/sleuth Alex Delaware nimbly executes tricky steps of his own when called in to consult on the mysterious ailments afflicting a baby being seen at his training hospital in Los Angeles. In his seventh appearance (after Private Eyes ), Delaware is in top form, carefully pursuing the possibility that 21-month-old Cassie Jones may be the victim of Munchausen's Disease by Proxy, a complex syndrome in which a parent, usually the mother, secretly causes the symptoms that endanger the child. That Cassie is the only grandchild of the hospital's new CEO, a corporate hotshot who has demoralized the staff with cutbacks and a new administration of ``paramilitary types,'' adds political twists to the case's knotty psychological aspects. After a doctor involved in computer research is murdered in the hospital parking lot, Delaware calls on his friend Milo, a gay LAPD homicide cop currently serving as an input clerk. They link an earlier murder to the hospital and then key into a secret federal investigation, all the while trying to keep Cassie safe. With familiar characters, including Delaware's woodworking girlfriend Robin, and some well-developed new ones, notably the hospital's thuggish security head and an uptight pediatric nurse, Kellerman steadily turns up the suspense, reserving some surprises to spring near the end of this intricate tale, the best of recent Alex Delaware stories. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
YA-- This psychological mystery centers on a disorder called Munchausen Syndrome, in which a primary caregiver--usually the mother--inflicts harm upon her child in order to focus attention on herself as a concerned parent. The suspicion of this crime alerts Dr. Stephanie Eves to consult with her long-time friend and colleague, Dr. Alex Delaware, a retired child psychologist. So begins Devil's Waltz . Cassie Jones, daughter of devoted parents and beloved granddaughter of the hospital's financial savior, suffers from a variety of medical symptoms, made all the more alarming by the earlier SIDS death of her brother. As Dr. Delaware begins to unravel the mystery of Cassie's continuing medical traumas, he uncovers two related murders and a web of hospital intrigue. A surprise ending makes readers want to re-read the novel to see what clues they have missed. Fans of Alex Delaware will not be disappointed in his latest adventure.-- Katherine Fitch, Lake Braddock Secondary School, Burke, VA
Emily Melton
Plots, subplots, counterplots crossing plots--Kellerman uses them all and comes up with a page-turner that will keep fans reading into the wee hours. The book's hero, compassionate, witty, charming, debonair Dr. Alex Delaware, is trying to figure out why angelic toddler Cassie Jones is sick all the time. Is it possible that her parents, Chip and Cindy, could be poisoning her? Or is someone else close to the little girl out to harm her? And what about Western Peds Hospital, where Alex once practiced? It's got "bad vibes"--overworked staff, no money, departments being closed. Could Cassie's mega-rich grandpa, Chuck Jones, be responsible for the imminent demise of the hospital in a get-richer-quick scheme? And how does spooky federal agent Presley Huenengarth fit in? Did he kill toxicologist-researcher Lester Ashmore? Was he responsible for the brutal sex slaying of Dawn Herbert, Ashmore's assistant? Confusing? You betcha. Mind-boggling? Indeed. Not to worry. By the end of the book, Delaware manages to tie all the confusing threads into one neat knot, leaving the reader gasping over the sheer, head-spinning genius it takes to keep so many balls in the air for so long and then catch them all without a miss. An awesome performance, certain to be another best-seller for Kellerman.
From the Publisher
“I double dare you to start reading Devil’s Waltz and to put it down.”—Larry King
 
“A tension-packed page-turner.”—Cosmopolitan
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345460714
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/2/2003
  • Series: Alex Delaware Series , #7
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 4.15 (w) x 6.90 (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

CHAPTER

1

It was a place of fear and myth, home of miracles and the worst kind of failure.

I’d spent a quarter of my life there, learning to deal with the rhythm, the madness, the starched whiteness of it all.

Five years’ absence had turned me into a stranger, and as I entered the lobby, anxiety tickled my belly.

Glass doors, black granite floors, high, concave travertine walls advertising the names of dead benefactors.

Glossy depot for an unguided tour of uncertainty.

Spring, outside, but in here time had a different meaning.

A group of surgical interns—God, they were taking them young—slouched by on paper-soled scrub slippers, humbled by double shifts. My own shoes were leather-bottomed and they clacked on the granite.

Ice-slick floors. I’d just started my internship when they’d been installed. I remembered the protests. Petitions against the illogic of polished stone in a place where children ran and walked and limped and wheeled. But some philanthropist had liked the look. Back in the days when philanthropists had been easy to come by.

Not much granite visible this morning; a crush of humanity filled the lobby, most of it dark-skinned and cheaply dressed, queued up at the glassed-in booths, waiting for the favors of stone-faced clerks. The clerks avoided eye contact and worshipped paper. The lines didn’t seem to be moving.

Babies wailed and suckled; women sagged; men swallowed curses and stared at the floor. Strangers bumped against one another and sought refuge in the placebo of banter. Some of the children—those who still looked like children—twisted and bounced and struggled against weary adult arms, breaking away for precious seconds of freedom before being snagged and reeled back in. Others—pale, thin, sunken, bald, painted in unnatural colors—stood there silently, heartbreakingly compliant. Sharp words in foreign tongues crackled above the drone of the paging operators. An occasional smile or bit of cheer brightened the inertial gloom, only to go out like a spark from a wet flint.

As I got closer I smelled it.

Rubbing alcohol, antibiotic bitters, the sticky-ripe liqueur of elixir and affliction.

Eau de Hospital. Some things never changed. But I had; my hands were cold.

I eased my way through the crowd. Just as I got to the elevators, a heavyset man in a navy-blue rent-a-cop uniform stepped out of nowhere and blocked my way. Blond-gray crewcut and a shave so close his skin looked wet-sanded. Black-frame glasses over a triangular face.

“Can I help you, sir?”

“I’m Dr. Delaware. I have an appointment with Dr. Eves.”

“I need to see some ID, sir.”

Surprised, I fished a five-year-old clip-on badge out of my pocket. He took it and studied it as if it were a clue to something. Looked up at me, then back at the ten-year-old black-and-white photo. There was a walkie-talkie in his hand. Holstered pistol on his belt.

I said, “Looks like things have tightened up a bit since I was last here.”

“This is expired,” he said. “You still on staff, sir?”

“Yes.”

He frowned and pocketed the badge.

I said, “Is there some kind of problem?”

“New badges required, sir. If you go right past the chapel, over to Security, they can shoot your picture and fix you up.” He touched the badge on his lapel. Color photograph, ten-digit ID number.

“How long will that take?” I said.

“Depends, sir.” He looked past me, as if suddenly bored.

“On what?”

“How many are ahead of you. Whether your paper­work’s current.”

I said, “Listen, my appointment with Dr. Eves is in just a couple of minutes. I’ll take care of the badge on my way out.”

“ ’Fraid not, sir,” he said, still focused somewhere else. He folded his arms across his chest. “Regulations.”

“Is this something recent?”

“Letters were sent to the medical staff last summer.”

“Must have missed that one.” Must have dropped it in the trash, unopened, like most of my hospital mail.

He didn’t answer.

“I’m really pressed for time,” I said. “How about if I get a visitor’s badge to tide me over?”

“Visitor’s badges are for visitors, sir.”

“I’m visiting Dr. Eves.”

He swung his eyes back to me. Another frown—darker, contemplative. He inspected the pattern on my tie. Touched his belt on the holster side.

“Visitor’s badges are over at Registration,” he said, hooking a thumb at one of the dense queues.

He crossed his arms again.

I smiled. “No way around it, huh?”

“No, sir.”

“Just past the chapel?”

“Just past and turn right.”

“Been having crime problems?” I said.

“I don’t make the rules, sir. I just enforce them.”

He waited a moment before moving aside, followed my exit with his squint. I turned the corner, half expecting to see him trailing, but the corridor was empty and silent.

The door marked security services was twenty paces down. A sign hung from the knob: back in above a printed clock with movable hands set at 9:30 a.m. My watch said 9:10. I knocked anyway. No answer. I looked back. No rent-a-cop. Remembering a staff elevator just past Nuclear Medicine, I continued down the hall.

Nuclear Medicine was now community resources. Another closed door. The elevator was still there but the buttons were missing; the machine had been switched to key-operated. I was looking for the nearest stairway when a couple of orderlies appeared, wheeling an empty gurney. Both were young, tall, black, sporting geometrically carved hip-hop hairstyles. Talking earnestly about the Raiders game. One of them produced a key, inserted it into the lock, and turned. The elevator doors opened on walls covered with padded batting. Junk-food wrappers and a piece of dirty-looking gauze littered the floor. The orderlies pushed the gurney in. I followed.

General Pediatrics occupied the eastern end of the fourth floor, separated from the Newborn Ward by a swinging wooden door. I knew the outpatient clinic had been open for only fifteen minutes but the small waiting room was already overflowing. Sneezes and coughs, glazed looks and hyperactivity. Tight maternal hands gripped babes and toddlers, paperwork, and the magic plastic of Medi-Cal cards. To the right of the reception window was a set of double doors marked patients register first over a Spanish translation of same.

I pushed through and walked past a long white corridor tacked with safety and nutrition posters, county health bulletins, and bilingual exhortations to nurture, vaccinate, and abstain from alcohol and dope. A dozen or so examining rooms were in use, their chart-racks brimming over. Cat-cries and the sounds of comfort seeped from under the doors. Across the hall were files, supply cabinets, and a refrigerator marked with a red cross. A secretary tapped a computer keyboard. Nurses hustled between the cabinets and the exam rooms. Residents spoke into chin-cradled phones and trailed after fast-stepping attending physicians.

The wall right-angled to a shorter hallway lined with doctors’ offices. Stephanie Eves’s open door was the third in a set of seven.

The room was ten by twelve, with institutional-beige walls relieved by bracket shelves filled with books and journals, a couple of Miró posters, and one cloudy window with an eastern view. Beyond the glint of car-tops, the peaks of the Hollywood hills seemed to be dissolving into a broth of billboards and smog.

The desk was standard hospital-issue phony walnut and chrome, pushed up against one wall. A hard-looking chrome and orange-cloth chair competed for space with a scuffed brown Naugahyde recliner. Between the chairs a thrift-shop end table supported a coffee maker and a struggling philodendron in a blue ceramic pot.

Stephanie sat at the desk, wearing a long white coat over a wine-and-gray dress, writing on an outpatient intake form. A chin-high stack of charts shadowed her writing arm. When I stepped into the room she looked up, put down her pen, smiled, and stood.

“Alex.”

She’d turned into a good-looking woman. The dull-brown hair, once worn shoulder-length, limp, and barretted, was short, frosted at the tips, and feathered. Contact lenses had replaced granny glasses, revealing amber eyes I’d never noticed before. Her bone structure seemed stronger, more sculpted. She’d never been heavy; now she was thin. Time hadn’t ignored her as she entered the dark side of thirty; a mesh of feathers gathered at the corners of her eyes and there was some hardness at the mouth. Makeup handled all of it well.

“Good to see you,” she said, taking my hand.

“Good to see you, Steph.”

We hugged briefly.

“Can I get you something?” She pointed to the coffee machine, arm jangling. Gold vermeil bracelets looped her wrist. Gold watch on the other arm. No rings. “Plain old coffee or real café au lait? This little guy actually steams the milk.”

I said no thanks and looked at the machine. Small, squat, black matte and brushed steel, logo of a German manufacturer. The carafe was tiny—two cups’ worth. Next to it sat a petite copper pitcher.

“Cute, huh?” she said. “Gift from a friend. Gotta do something to bring a little style into this place.”

She smiled. Style was something she’d never cared about. I smiled back and settled in the recliner. A leatherbound book sat on a nearby table. I picked it up. Collected poems of Byron. Bookmark from a store named Browsers—up on Los Feliz, just above Hollywood. Dusty and crowded, with an emphasis on verse. Lots of junk, a few treasures. I’d gone there as an intern, during lunch hour.

Stephanie said, “He’s some writer. I’m trying to expand my interests.”

I put the book down. She sat in her desk chair and wheeled around facing me, legs crossed. Pale-gray stockings and suede pumps matched her dress.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 27 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2010

    Another Solid Alex Delaware Novel

    This is one of Kellerman's best. As always, the balance of suspense and psychological insight makes for a riveting read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2009

    Kellerman's Great Writing

    Kellerman does his usual best in presenting characters, developing plot and keeping the suspense high. Underlying is his unique way of weaving a psychological understanding of the issues presented.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2013

    Very good.

    I liked the part where Alex was worried that Milo might be in trouble again.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2012

    Another great Alex Delaware read!!

    I may be biased because Jonathan Kellerman is one of my all-time favorite authors, but then again, I read a LOT of books, so maybe I'm justified on my bias. :) I adore the Alex Delaware series, and this does not disappoint! I recommend every book in this series, and every other Kellerman book, to everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Good story, but electronic format really needs improvement.

    The electronic pagination is out of sequence, with pages recurring in an endless loop which cane only be exited using "Go To Page" which usually skips part of a page. This is a problem common to NookBooks since the last software update. Good buy if you can put up with some frustration.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2012

    Loved it!

    Couldn't wait to finish this book, but hated to see it end! Highly recommend this read! My first Alex Delaware... not my last!

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  • Posted March 28, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Very good - suspenseful!

    Delaware is at it again! Kellerman really keeps you wondering on this one! I recommend this for a book you won't want to put down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2002

    Things are not what you think they are

    This book shows that everyting is not what is seems to be. The police do what they can, if they are loal to their job that is. This book showed me that we have to be careful of what other people may be willing and can do.

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