Silent Partner (Alex Delaware Series #4)

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At a party for a controversial Los Angeles sex therapist, Alex Delaware encounters a face from his own past—Sharon Ransom, an exquisite, alluring lover who left him abruptly more than a decade earlier. Sharon now hints that she desperately needs help, but Alex evades her. The next day she is dead, an apparent suicide.
“A complex and ...
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Silent Partner (Alex Delaware Series #4)

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At a party for a controversial Los Angeles sex therapist, Alex Delaware encounters a face from his own past—Sharon Ransom, an exquisite, alluring lover who left him abruptly more than a decade earlier. Sharon now hints that she desperately needs help, but Alex evades her. The next day she is dead, an apparent suicide.
“A complex and haunting story of tangled personalities, deeply buried family secrets, and of violence lying thinly under the surface . . . hits the reader right between the eyes.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
Driven by guilt and sadness, Alex plunges into the maze of Sharon’s life—a journey that will take him through the pleasure palaces of California’s ultrarich, into the alleyways of the mind, where childhood terrors still hold sway.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Stricken with guilt over the suicide of a former lover, child psychologist Alex Delaware is driven to understand the circumstances that led to her death. ``Kellerman bares a dark, brooding side of his appealing series' detective in this complex tale of guilt, greed and expiation,'' commented PW. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"A  complex and haunting story of tangled personalities,  deeply buried family secrets, and of violence lying  thinly under the surface ... Hits the reader  right between the eyes." -- Los Angeles  Times Book Review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345540232
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/30/2013
  • Series: Alex Delaware Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 211,337
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 4.10 (h) x 1.30 (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.


"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 & "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 & 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

Silent Partner

By Jonathan Kellerman

Ballantine Books

Copyright © 2003 Jonathan Kellerman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780345460684



I’ve always hated parties and, under normal circumstances, never would have attended the one on Saturday.

But my life was a mess. I relaxed my standards. And stepped into a nightmare.

Thursday morning I was the good doctor, focusing on my patients, determined not to let my own garbage get in the way of work.

I kept my eye on the boy.

He hadn’t yet gotten to the part where he tore the heads off the dolls. I watched him pick up the toy cars again and advance them toward each other in inevitable collision.


The ringing concussion of metal against metal blocked out the whine of the video camera before dying. He tossed the cars aside as if they burned his fingers. One of them flipped over and rocked on its roof like a trapped turtle. He poked at it, then looked up at me, seeking permission.

I nodded and he snatched up the cars. Turning them over in his hands, he examined the shiny undercarriages, spun the wheels, simulated the sounds of revving engines.

“Voom voom. Cah.”

A little over two, big and husky for his age, with the kind of fluid coordination that foretold athletic heroism. Blond hair, pug features, raisin-colored eyes that made me think of snowmen, an amber splash of freckles across nose and chubby cheeks.

A Norman Rockwell kid: the kind of son any red-blooded American father would be proud of.

His father’s blood was a rusty stain on the central divider somewhere along the Ventura Freeway.

“Voom cah!”

In six sessions, it was as close as he’d come to speaking. I wondered about it, wondered about a certain dullness in the eyes.

The second collision was sudden, harder. His concentration was intense. The dolls would come soon.

His mother looked up from her seat in the corner. For the past ten minutes she’d read the same page of a paperback entitled Will Yourself Successful! Any pretense of casualness was betrayed by her body language. She sat high and stiff in the chair, scratched her head, stretched her long dark hair as if it were yarn, and kept coiling and uncoiling it around her fingers. One of her feet tapped out a nonstop four-four beat, sending ripples that coursed upward through the soft flesh of a pale, unstockinged calf and disappeared under the hem of her sun dress.

The third crash made her wince. She lowered the book and looked at me, blinking hard. Just short of pretty—the kind of looks that flower in high school and fade fast. I smiled. She snapped her head down and returned to her book.

“Cah!” The boy grunted, took a car in each hand, smashed them together like cymbals, and let go upon impact. They careened across the carpet in opposite directions. Breathing hard, he toddled after them.

“Cah!” He picked them up and threw them down hard. “Voom! Cah!”

He went through the routine several more times, then abruptly flung the cars aside and began scanning the room with hungry, darting glances. Searching for the dolls, though I always left them in the same place.

A memory problem or just denial? At that age, all you could do was infer.

Which was what I’d told Mal Worthy when he’d described the case and asked for the consult.

“You’re not going to get hard proof.”

“Not even trying for it, Alex. Just give me something I can work with.”

“What about the mother?”

“As you’d expect, a mess.”

“Who’s working with her?”

“No one, for the moment, Alex. I tried to get her to see someone but she refused. In the meantime, just do your thing for Darren and if a little therapy for Mama takes place in the process, I won’t raise an objection. God knows she needs it—something like that happening to someone her age.”

“How’d you get involved in an injury case, anyway?”

“Second marriage. Father was my handyman. I handled the divorce as a favor. She was the other woman and remembered me with fondness. Actually, I used to do lots of P.I. in the beginning. Feels good to get back into it. So tell me, how do you feel about working with one this young?”

“I’ve had younger. How verbal is he?”

“If he talks I haven’t heard it. She claims before the accident he was putting a few words together, but I don’t get the impression they were saving up tuition for Cal Tech. If you could prove IQ loss, Alex, I could translate it into dollars.”


He laughed over the phone. “I know, I know, Mr.—excuse me, Dr. Conservative. Far be it from me to—”

“Good talking to you, Mal. Have the mother call me to set up an appointment.”

“—attempt to unduly influence an expert witness. However, while you’re analyzing the situation, you might consider imagining what it’s going to be like for her, raising a kid by herself, no training, no money. Living with those memories. I just got pictures of the crash—they almost made me lose my lunch. There are some deep pockets here, Alex, and they deserve being dipped into.”

“Dah!” He’d found the dolls. Three men, a woman, a little boy. Small, soft plastic and pink, with bland, guileless faces, anatomically correct bodies, and detachable limbs. Next to them another pair of cars, larger than the first two, one red, one blue. A miniature child’s car seat had been placed in the rear seat of the blue one.

I stood, adjusted the video camera so that it was trained on the table, then sat on the floor next to him.

He picked up the blue car and positioned the dolls using a familiar sequence: one man driving, another next to him, the woman behind the driver, the child in the car seat. The red car was empty. One male doll remained on the table.

He flapped his arms and tugged his nose. Holding the blue car at arm’s length, he looked away from it.

I patted his shoulder. “It’s all right, Darren.”

He inhaled, blew out air, picked up the red car and placed both vehicles on the floor, two feet apart, grille to grille. Taking another deep breath, he puffed up his cheeks and let out a scream, then smashed them together full force.

The male passenger and the woman flew out and landed on the carpet. The boy doll slumped in its harness, head down.

It was the driver doll that held his attention—lying across the front seat, its flight restrained by one foot caught in the steering wheel. Huffing, the boy struggled to pull it loose. Tugged and twisted, started to grunt with frustration, but finally managed to free it. He held it away from his body, examined its plastic face, and yanked its head off. Then he placed it next to the little boy.

I heard a gasp from across the room and turned. Denise Burkhalter ducked back behind her book.

Oblivious of her reaction, the boy dropped the headless body, picked up the female doll, hugged it, put it down. Then he returned to the male dolls—the decapitated driver and the front-seat passenger. Raising them over his head, he threw them against the wall, watched them hit, then fall.

He looked at the child slumped in the seat and picked up the head next to it. After rolling it under his palm, he tossed it aside.

He stepped toward the male doll that hadn’t been moved—the driver of the other car—took another step, froze, then backed away.

The room was silent except for the hum of the camera. A page turned. He stood still for several moments, then was overtaken by a burst of hyperactivity so fierce it electrified the room.

Giggling, he rocked back and forth, wrung his hands and waved them in the air, sputtering and spitting. He ran from one side of the room to the other, kicking bookshelves, chairs, the desk, scuffing the baseboards, clawing the walls and leaving little greasy smudges on the plaster. His laughter rose in pitch before giving way to a croupy bark followed by a rush of tears. Throwing himself to the floor, he thrashed for a while, then curled fetally and lay there, sucking his thumb.

His mother remained behind her book.

I went to him and scooped him up in my arms.

His body was tense and he was chewing hard on his thumb. I held him in my lap, told him everything was okay, he was a good boy. His eyes opened for an instant, then closed. Milk-sweet breath mingled with the not unpleasant odor of child sweat.

“Do you want to go to Mommy?”

Drowsy nod.

She still hadn’t moved. I said, “Denise.” Nothing. I repeated her name.

She put the paperback in her purse, strung the purse over one shoulder, got up, and took him.

We left the library and walked toward the front of the house. By the time we reached the door he was sleeping. I held the door open. Cool air blew in. A gentle summer that kept threatening to heat up. From the distance came the sound of a motorized lawnmower.

“Any questions you want to ask me, Denise?”


“How’d he sleep this week?”

“The same.”

“Six or seven nightmares?”

“About. I didn’t count—do I still have to?”

“It would help to know what’s going on.”

No response.

“The legal part of the evaluation is over, Denise. I have enough information for Mr. Worthy. But Darren’s still struggling—totally normal for what he’s been through.”

No response.

“He’s come a long way,” I said, “but he hasn’t been able to act out the role of the . . . other driver yet. There’s plenty of fear and anger still in him. It would help him to express it. I’d like to see him some more.”

She looked at the ceiling.

“Those dolls,” she said.

“I know. It’s hard to watch.”

She bit her lip.

“But it’s helpful for Darren, Denise. We can try having you wait outside next time. He’s ready for it.”

She said, “It’s far, coming up here.”

“Bad traffic?”

“The pits.”

“How long did it take you?”

“Hour and three quarters.”

Tujunga to Beverly Glen. A forty-minute freeway ride. If you could handle freeways.

“Surface streets jammed?”

“Uh-huh. And you’ve got some curvy roads up here.”

“I know. Sometimes when—”

Suddenly she was backing away. “Why do you make yourself so hard to get to, living up here! If you want to help people, why do you make it so damned hard!”

I waited a moment before answering. “I know it’s been rough, Denise. If you’d rather meet in Mr. Worthy’s—”

“Oh, forget it!” And she was out the door.

I watched her carry her son across the deck and down the stairs. His weight caused her to waddle. Her ungainliness made me want to rush down and help her. Instead, I stood there and watched her struggle. She finally made it to the rental car, worked hard at opening the rear door with one hand. Bending low, she managed to get Darren’s limp body into the car seat. Slamming the door shut, she walked around to the driver’s side and threw open the front door.

Putting her key in the ignition, she lowered her head to the steering wheel and let it rest there. She sat that way for a while before turning on the engine.


Excerpted from Silent Partner by Jonathan Kellerman Copyright © 2003 by Jonathan Kellerman. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 115 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 115 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2011

    Honestly a eye opening read

    I understand that this is a work of fiction, but what always leaves me satisfied about a JK book is the forensic psychology. Gaining an understanding of borderline personality regarding the actions of the primary character in this book blew me away. On top of all that it's a typical wandering story of primary and secondary characters that I so enjoy.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Skipped 100 pages!

    1st time I've ever skipped 100 pages and didn't miss a thing - author was wriiting a text book of psychology/sociology.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2004

    Another Great One!!!

    This book was GREAT! Alex and Milo make a great team and I always feel like I am with old friends when I am reading about them. GREAT charactors! I can't wait to read Therapy.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Loved it!

    My first read of this auther and I really enjoyed the book, Now reading his book Therapy!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2012

    I wasn't impressed with this one.

    This was a slow moving boring novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

    A Great Read

    I love all the Alex Delaware series. This one is the best so far. I would definitely recommend this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 22, 2012

    Phenomenal book

    I thought I had read all of JK's books but I had missed this one. It is an amazing, incredible and intriguing plot. One of his best. I couldn't put it down--that is my nook. Outstanding great read!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012


    Ended up skimming because of slow parts

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2012

    Details, details

    With so much detail of so many characters with so many inter relationships, the story loses steam.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2012

    Kellermqn grabs you and keeps you up reading

    Having read several of his thrillers, I find old friends with his well developed characters. As always he introduces us to new twisted folks that keep you guessing what they ae going to do until the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    When reading the Delaware series, it would be best to skip over this rant

    I found I'd read all of the other Alex Delaware series except this one. So I bought Silent Partner and I just recently finished reading this on my Nook. I'd rate Silent Partner as the worst book Jonathan Kellerman wrote in this series (if asked, I'd have rated all the others as 5 stars). It's a torturous plot, and a rather depressing story with Robin and Milo both being AWOL for most of the plot, a plot which is somewhat difficult to follow with all the similarly named characters weaving around amid all the psychology jargon. To me, it seemed to be a J. Kellerman rant against a variety of aspects of clinical and academic psychology practice.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2013

    Very good.

    I liked the part where Rick was complaning about what Trapp was doing to Milo.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    Highly recommended, one of his best.

    I found it hard to put this down, very compelling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2013

    Try a different Kellerman book

    Not a good example of author's capabilities. Both characters and plot not up to par with Kellerman's usual standards in his other novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2012


    It was like reading a college psychology text book regarding the theory of split personality. Interesting but not to be dealt on at length in a fiction mystery book. I gave it up at about 220 pages due to boredom.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2012

    Too drawn out - but still good!

    Just a little too drawn out, what with all the mind stuff (which I enjoy in small amts) and all the village descriptive stuff, to me, he could have left some of it out, and put more "meat" in the main plot. But the story is good and I will read more of his books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012


    A little drawn out. I usually don't care for that style of writing,although when kellerman does it i don't mind, due to the fact that he is one of the best at it. An intelligent author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2012



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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2012


    This. for me, had too much physcological jargon and flashbacks to hold my interest. Didn't finish it. It might be enjoyable for readers with serious interest in that field. I have read others in this series I liked.

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  • Posted February 2, 2012


    A boring book with too much character detail. Got 150 pages in and felt like going to the dentist to get some relief. Never finished the book, and I like Delaware in Kellerman's other books.

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