Flesh and Blood (Alex Delaware Series #15)

Flesh and Blood (Alex Delaware Series #15)

3.9 25
by Jonathan Kellerman

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Perennial bestseller and acknowledged master of the psychological thriller, Jonathan Kellerman has created his most riveting and memorable work to date in the Alex Delaware novel about a troubled and elusive young woman whose brutal murder forces the brilliant psychologist-detective to confront his own fallibility.  See more details below


Perennial bestseller and acknowledged master of the psychological thriller, Jonathan Kellerman has created his most riveting and memorable work to date in the Alex Delaware novel about a troubled and elusive young woman whose brutal murder forces the brilliant psychologist-detective to confront his own fallibility.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
–Los Angeles Times Book Review

“VIBRANT . . . [Kellerman] can always be counted on to deliver a smooth and satisfying adventure as he makes his way through the darker sides of Los Angeles.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Alex Delaware Series, #15
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.74(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Sad truth: Had she been just a patient, I probably wouldn’t have remembered her.

All those years listening, so many faces. There was a time I recalled every one of them. Forgetting comes with experience. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.

Her mother phoned my service on a Saturday morning soon after New Year’s.

“A Mrs. Jane Abbot,” said the operator. “She says her daughter’s an old patient. Lauren Teague.”

Jane Abbot’s name meant nothing to me, but Lauren Teague sparked an uneasy nostalgia. It was an 818 number, somewhere in the Valley. When I’d known the family they’d lived in West L.A. I searched my old case files before returning the call.

Teague, Lauren Lee. Intake date, ten years ago, the tail end of my Wilshire Boulevard practice. Shortly after, I cashed in some real estate profits, tried to drop out, met a beautiful woman, became friends with a sad, brilliant detective, learned more than I wanted to know about bad things. Since then I’d avoided the commitment of long-term therapy cases, stuck to court consults and forensic work, the kinds of puzzles that removed me from the confines of my office.

Lauren had been fifteen at referral. Thin file: one history-taking meeting with the parents followed by two sessions with the girl. Then a missed appointment, no explanation. The next day the father left a message canceling any future treatment. Unpaid balance for the final session; I’d made a halfhearted effort to collect, then written it off.

When old patients get in touch it’s usually because they’re doing great and want tobrag, or exactly the opposite. Either way they tend to be people with whom I’ve connected. Lauren Teague didn’t qualify. Far from it. If anything, I was the last person she’d want to see. Why was her mother contacting me now?

Presenting problems: poor school achiev., noncompliance at home. Clin. impressions: fath. angry; moth. possib. deprssd. Tension bet moth and father—marital strss? Parents agree re: Lauren’s behavior as the prim. prob. Uneventful birth hx, only child, no sig. health probs., contact pediatric M.D. to verify. School: per Mom: “Lauren’s always been smart.” “Used to love to read, now hates it.” B2 aver. till last year, then “change of attitude,” new friends—“bums” (fath), some truancy, C’s and D’s. Basic mood is “sullen.” “No communic.” Parents try to talk, get no resp. Suspect drug use.

As I leafed through the file, Jane and Lyle Teague’s faces came into semifocus. She, thin, blond, edgy, a former flight attendant, now a “full-time mom.” A heavy smoker—forty-five minutes without tobacco had been torture.

Lauren’s father had been slit-eyed, blank-faced, reluctant to engage. His wife had talked fast . . . nervous hands, moist eyes. When she’d looked to him for support, he’d turned away.

They were both thirty-nine, but he looked older. . . . He’d done something in the building trades . . . here it was, elect. contractr. A powerful-looking man, fighting the advent of middle age with long hair, sprayed in place, that fringed his shoulders. Black pelt of beard. Muscles made obvious by a too-tight polo shirt and pressed jeans. Crude but well-balanced features . . . gold chain circling a ruddy neck . . . gold I.D. bracelet—how did I remember that? Put him in buckskins and he could’ve been a grizzly hunter.

Lyle Teague had sat with his legs spread wide, consulted his watch every few minutes, fondled his beeper as if hoping for intrusion. Unable to maintain eye contact—lapsing into dreamy stares. That had made me wonder about attention deficit, something he might’ve passed on to Lauren. But when I raised the topic of academic testing, he didn’t stir defensively, and his wife said Lauren had been examined two years before by a school psychologist and found to be “normal and extremely bright.”

“Bright,” he said, putting no praise into the word. “Nothing wrong with her brain that a little discipline won’t cure.” Accusing glance at his wife.

Her mouth twisted, but she said, “That’s what we’re here to learn.”

Lyle Teague smirked.

I said, “Mr. Teague, do you think anything else is going on, besides Lauren’s being spoiled?”

“Nah, basic teenage garbage.” Another look at his wife, this time seeking confirmation.

She said, “Lauren’s a good girl.”

Lyle Teague laughed threateningly. “Then why the hell are we here?”


“Yeah, yeah, fine.” He tried to tune out, but I stuck with him, finally got him talking about Lauren, how different she was from the “cute little kid” he’d once taken to job sites in his truck. As he reminisced, his face darkened and his speech got choppy, and by the end of the speech he pronounced his daughter “a real hassle. Hope to hell you can do something with her.”

Two days later Lauren showed up in my waiting room, alone, five minutes late. A tall, slender, conspicuously busted, brown-haired girl, treated kindly by puberty.

Fifteen, but she could’ve passed for twenty. She wore a white jersey tank top, skimpy, snug blue-denim shorts, and ludicrously high-heeled white sandals. Smooth, tan arms and long, tan legs were showcased by the minimal clothing. Pink-polished toes glinted at the tips of her sandals. The strap of a small black patent leather purse striped a bare shoulder. If she’d been studying the hookers on Sunset for fashion tips, she’d learned well.

When young girls flaunt, the result is often a comic loss of equilibrium. Lauren Teague seemed perfectly at ease advertising her body—like father, like daughter?

She favored her father in coloring, her mother in structure, but bore no striking resemblance to either. The brown hair was burnt umber sparked with rust, thick and straight, hanging halfway down her back, parted dead center and flipped into extravagant wings at the temples. High cheekbones, wide mouth glossed pink, dominant but perfectly proportioned cleft chin, heavily lined, azure-shadowed blue eyes—mocking eyes. A strong, straight, uptilted nose was dashed by freckles she’d tried to obliterate with makeup. Lots of makeup. It stuccoed her from brow to jaw, creating a too-beige mask.

As I introduced myself she breezed past me into the office, taking long, easy strides on the impossible heels. None of the usual teenage slump—she held her back straight, thrust out her chest. A strikingly good-looking girl, made less attractive by cosmetics and blatancy.

Selecting the chair closest to mine, she sat down as if she’d been there a hundred times before. “Cool furniture.”

“Thank you.”

“Like one of those libraries in an old movie.” She batted her lashes, crossed and recrossed her legs, threw out her chest again, yawned, stretched, folded her arms across her torso, dropped them to her sides suddenly, a cartoon of vulnerability.

I asked why she thought she was there.

“My parents think I’m a loser.”

“A loser.”


“What do you think of that?”

Derisive laugh, toss of hair. Her tongue tip skated across her lower lip. “May-be.” Shrug. Yawn. “So . . . time to talk about my head problems, huh?”

Jane and Lyle Teague had denied previous therapy, but Lauren’s glibness made me wonder. I asked her about it.

“Nope, never. The school counselor tried to talk to me a couple of times.”


“My grades.”

“Did it help?”

She laughed. “Yeah, right. Okay, ready for my neurosis?”

“Neurosis,” I said.

“We have psych this year. Stupid class. Ready?”

“If you are.”

“Sure. I mean—that’s the point, right? I’m supposed to spit out all my deep, dark secrets.”

“It’s not a matter of supposed to—”

“I know, I know,” she said. “That’s what shrinks always say—no one’s gonna force you to do anything.”

“You know about shrinks.”

“I know enough. Some of my friends have seen ’em. One of them had a shrink give her that shi— That stuff about never forcing her, then the next week he committed her to a mental ward.”


“She tried to kill herself.”

“Sounds like a good reason,” I said.


“How’s your friend doing?”

“Fine—like you really care.” Her eyes rolled.

I said nothing.

“That, too,” she said. “That’s the other shrink thing—just sitting there and staring. Saying ‘Ah-ah’ and ‘Uh-huh.’ Answering questions with questions. Right?”


“Very funny,” she said. “At what you charge, I’m not coming here forever. And he’s probably gonna call to make sure I showed up and did a good job so let’s get going.”

“Dad’s in a hurry?”

“Yeah. So give me a good grade, okay? Tell him I was good—I don’t need any more hassles.”

“I’ll tell him you cooperated—”

“Tell him whatever you want.”

“But I’m not going to get into details, because—”

“Confidentiality, yeah, yeah. It doesn’t matter. Tell them anything.”

“No secrets from Mom and Dad?”

“What for?” She played with her hair, gave a world-weary smile. “I’ve got no cool secrets anyway. Totally boring life. Too bad for you—try not to fall asleep.”

“So,” I said, “your dad wants you to get this over with quickly.”

“Whatever.” She picked at her hair.

“What exactly did he tell you to accomplish here, Lauren?”

“Get my act together, be straight—be a good girl.” She laughed, arced one leg over the other, placed a hand on a calf and tickled.

“Be straight,” I said. “As in drugs?”

“They’re paranoid about that, along with everything else. Even though they smoke.”

“They smoke dope?”

“Dope, tobacco. Little after-dinner taste. Sometimes it’s booze— cocktails. ‘We’re mature enough to control it, Lauren.’ ” She laughed. “Jane used to be a stewardess, working all these fancy private charters. They’ve still got this collection of tiny little bottles. I like the green melon stuff—Midori. But I’m not allowed to touch pot till I’m eighteen.” She laughed. “Like I’d ever.”

“Pot’s not for you?” I said.

“Pot’s boring—too slow. Like hey, man, let’s pretend we’re in the sixties, get all wasted and sit around staring at the sky and talking about God.” Another gust of laughter, painfully lacking in joy. “Pot sure makes them boring. It’s the only time she slows down. And he just sits and veges on the TV, munches nachos, whatever. I’m not supposed to be talking about their bad habits, I’m the one who needs to change.”

“Change how?”

“Clean my room,” she singsonged. “Do my chores, get ready in the morning without calling my mom a bitch, stop saying ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ and ‘cunt. Go to class and pay attention, build up my grades, stop breaking curfew, hang out with decent friends, not low-life.” She rotated one hand, as if spooling thread.

“And I’m supposed to get you to do all that.”

“Lyle says no way, you never will.”


Her eyes got merry. “That’s something else I’m supposed to not do. Call him by his name. He hates it, it drives him crazy.”

“So no way you’ll stop.”

She played with her hair. “Who knows what I’ll do?”

From the Audio Cassette (Unabridged) edition.

Copyright 2001 by Jonathan Kellerman

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Flesh and Blood (Alex Delaware Series #15) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
BookLoverCT More than 1 year ago
I love the way Kellerman writes, with his elaborate discriptions of individuals and settings. This one focused on the relationship/bond between Alex and Milo. Alex acts more as a police officer in the partneship with Milo. He also shows his humanity in not helping Lauren enough.
Aimee_Leon More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent story. The supense & thrill knocks your socks off. I would recommend anyone to read this novel. Especially the audio book. John Rubinstein narrorates the characters beautifully and in great tone of each scene.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This novel was just as good as all of Jonathan Kellerman's other Alex Delaware books. The slowness of his books is what makes it good -- you twist and squirm and can't wait to find out 'who done it.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read almost all of Kellerman's books & unlike many authors he gets better & better! This one will keep the pages turning.
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crazycatCT More than 1 year ago
My favorite Alex Deleware book yet! Couldn't put it down!
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Mystery7 More than 1 year ago
One of his best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
we need more writers like JK. Keep them coming
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with 'Painful & Idiotic'. I enjoy mystery novels, letting the story take me for a ride with only an obstructed view of the path ahead. Anticipation makes for an adventure, trying to get one step ahead of the author. On several occasions, the investigation is benefited from amazing coincidences that just fall into place. As 'painful' describes, all Alex needs to do to solve all his problems is to get in the car or kayak. It would make more sense if the author would just come out with the revelation that Alex's success as a sleuth is not due to his firm grasp on deduction, but rather clairvoyance. My patience was tested and questions in my head rang, 'what is the point?', 'when will this chapter end?' I judge a book by how I feel when I'm done reading. Upon completion, I was void of any feeling, except 'finally, it's over.' I didn't feel any sense of accomplishment or need to talk to others about, 'this cool story'. Thanks to the public library it didn't cost me a dime.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Flesh and Blood chronicles one of those eerie deja vue events we've all experienced. But what happened between the first experience . . . the seminal impressions . . . and the remembrances?Whatever happened, the result was MURDER! Wow!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this was by far one of Jonathan Kellerman's best books, I have read them all as I am a big fan and this one is the best.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book thoroughly and it flowed quite well. I would recommend it highly to others.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I happened to stumble upon Jonathan Kellerman several years ago, and have read all of his books!! This one did not disappoint me, I thought the story was well written and kept me engrossed until the end!! Alex Delaware is my favorite sleuth and the characters are like friends to me.. this is a must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In real life, detectives have to track down every possible lead and interview everyone with the slightest possible information about their case. Most of it amounts to nothing...which is why we read thrillers. Unfortunately, Kellerman takes us along on all the useless interviews and dead ends while protagonist Alex Delaware uses psychobabble to speculate about possible motives. And whenever the investigation stalls, Delaware decides to jump in his car and go for a ride 'to clear his head' -and amazingly stumbles upon a hot new lead each time! Overwritten and tiresome, FLESH AND BLOOD will try your patience. For a truly taut and exciting thriller, I strongly recommend PURSUIT by Thomas Perry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Spike was wanting some attention while Alex and Robin were kissing. I also liked the part where Milo was trying to spare Alex from looking at his dead patient's body.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I got this and the Murder Book at around the same time, and I sure hope the Murder Book is better than this lame excuse for a novel. WAY to much filler, details that don't even matter. 1st chapter was interesting, but it all went downhill from there. Disappointing and a waste of time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with the others here who felt this novel was painful to read. I have read a few of the author's other books , and have truly enjoyed his wife's series of mystery/crime novels . This book contained some very painfully raw sexual relationships. I always wonder how Alex Delaware has the time to seemingly devote his entire career to a single case , helping his friend Milo Sturgis - a very overworked police detective. Yet Dr. Delaware , always referred to as Alex , seems to have no pressing psych. practice to attend to. Actually Milo seems to be the only truly real characterization in the book , IMO. I was disappointed in the book and share the ' I am so glad this is over ' remark. Sorry but I found that Faye Kellerman's novels are more interesting , realistic and caring .