Survival of the Fittest (Alex Delaware Series #12)

Survival of the Fittest (Alex Delaware Series #12)

4.1 26
by Jonathan Kellerman

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The daughter of a diplomat disappears on a school field trip--lured into the Santa Monica mountains and killed in cold blood.  Her father denies the possibility of a political motive.  See more details below


The daughter of a diplomat disappears on a school field trip--lured into the Santa Monica mountains and killed in cold blood.  Her father denies the possibility of a political motive.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Why is it so hard to put down a Kellerman thriller, even though they're strewn with red herrings, the coincidences demand grand suspensions of disbelief and the main characters, psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware; his lover, Robin; his best friend, gay L.A. detective Milo Sturgis, are so predictable? It's simple: the nonstop action leaves you breathless; the plot twists keep you guessing; the themes (eugenics, this time) are provocative. Milo asks Alex to help solve the murder of Irit Carmeli, the deaf, slightly retarded teenaged daughter of an Israeli diplomat. They identify three similar cases in which retarded or handicapped victims are found with the enigmatic legend "DVLL" written near the body. Meanwhile, Alex counsels Helena Dahl, whose brother, a cop, may have been involved with Meta, an organization whose members have high IQs, just before he killed himself. When Alex and Milo discover a link between "DVLL" and neo-fascist Meta in the alleged suicide of a genius scientist, the "DVLL" and Dahl cases entwine. The coincidence is quite a stretch; but by the time it unfolds, readers are hooked enough to accept it, just as they're likely not to question Alex's going undercover for the police. As an added bonus, Israeli detective Daniel Sharavi, the astute protagonist of Kellerman's non-Delaware mystery (The Butcher's Theater, 1988), returns as a valuable partner in this typically complicated, exciting Kellerman page-turner.
Library Journal
Readers will find this latest installment in the Alex Delaware series (e.g., The Clinic, LJ 10/15/96) entertaining despite the author's tendency to overdescribe settings at the expense of character development. The psychologist again helps his friend, detective Milo Sturgis, solve a cold case: a deaf and mildly retarded Israeli girl, the daughter of a diplomat, is strangled in a park, and the letters "D-V-L-L" are found on a scrap of paper in her pocket. Authorities have failed to come up with a suspect or any leads, so the victim's father brings in a detective of his own, the great Daniel Sharavi, from Kellerman's The Butcher's Theater (Bantam, 1988). Over 200 pages later, Delaware finally goes undercover to infiltrate a sinister MENSA-like organization, and the ends of this plot, filled with psychopathic cops and pseudo-scientific racists, are (too neatly) tied up. Despite the book's flaws, Kellerman fans and readers seeking an intelligent thriller should enjoy this. Recommended for all public libraries. Laurel A. Wilson, Alexandrian P.L, Mount Vernon, Ind.
From the Publisher
“Why is it so hard to put down a Kellerman thriller . . .? It’s simple: the nonstop action leaves you breathless; the plot twists keep you guessing; the themes . . . are provocative.”—Publishers Weekly
“An original and gripping tale that is one of his best.”—Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Alex Delaware Series, #12
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.20(d)

Read an Excerpt

Hooray for Hollywood.

Brass stars with celebrities' names were inlaid in the sidewalk but the stars of the night were toxin merchants, strong-arm specialists, and fifteen-year-olds running from family values turned vicious.

Open twenty-four hours a day, Go-Ji's welcomed them all. The coffee shop sat on the north side of Hollywood Boulevard, east of Vine, between a tattoo parlor and a thrash-metal bar.

At 3:00 a.m., a Mexican boy was sweeping the sidewalk when Nolan Dahl pulled his cruiser into the front loading zone. The boy lacked documentation but the sight of the policeman didn't alter his rhythm; cops could care less about inmigraci¾n. From what the boy had observed after a month, no one in L.A. cared much about anything.

Nolan Dahl locked the black-and-white and entered the restaurant, sauntering the way only 220 pounds of young, muscular cop laden with baton, belt, radio, flashlight, and holstered nine-millimeter could saunter. The place smelled rancid and the aisle of deep red carpet between the duct-taped orange booths was stained beyond redemption. Dahl settled at the rear, allowing himself a view of the Filipino cashier.

The next booth was occupied by a twenty-three-year-old pimp from Compton named Terrell Cochrane and one of his employees, a chubby sixteen-year-old mother of two named Germadine Batts, formerly of Checkpoint, Oklahoma. Fifteen minutes ago, the two had sat around the corner in Terrell's white Lexus, where Germadine had rolled up a blue, spangled legging and shot fifteen dollars' worth of tar heroin into a faltering ankle vein. Now nicely numbed and hypoglycemic, she was on her second diluted jumbo Coke,sucking ice and fooling with the pink plastic stirrer.

Terrell had mixed heroin and cocaine into a speedball and was feeling as perfectly balanced as a tightrope walker. He slouched, forked holes in his cheeseburger, simulated the Olympic logo with five flaccid onion rings while pretending not to watch the big blond cop.

Nolan Dahl couldn't have cared less about either of them, or the five other things scattered around the bright room. Elevator rock played softly. A slim, pretty waitress the color of molasses hurried down the aisle and stopped at Nolan's booth, smiling. Nolan smiled back, waved away a menu, and asked for coconut cream pie and coffee, please.

"New on the night shift?" asked the waitress. She'd come from Ethiopia five years ago and spoke beautiful English with a pleasant accent.

Nolan smiled again and shook his head. He'd been working Hollywood night shift for three months but had never patronized Go-Ji's, getting his sugar rush from a Dunkin' on Highland recommended by Wes Baker. Cops and doughnuts. Big joke.

"Never seen you before, Officer—Dahl."

"Well," he said, "life's full of new experiences."

The waitress laughed. "Well, hmm." She left for the pastry counter and Nolan watched her before shifting his blue eyes, making contact with Terrell Cochrane.

Scruffy thing.

Nolan Dahl was twenty-seven and had been formed, to a large extent, by TV. Before joining the force, his notion of pimps had been red velvet suits and big hats with feathers. Soon he'd learned you couldn't prepare for anything.


He scanned Terrell and the hooker, who had to be a minor. This month the pimp was into coarse, oversized, insipid plaid shirts over black T-shirts, abbreviated cornrows above shaved temples. Last month had been black leather; before that, African prince.

The cop's stare bothered Terrell. Hoping it was someone else under scrutiny, he looked across the aisle at the three transsexuals giggling and whispering and making a big deal out of eating french fries.

He eased back to the cop.

The cop was smiling at him. A weird smile—almost sad. What did that mean?

Terrell returned to his burger, feeling a little out of balance.

The Ethiopian waitress brought Nolan's order and watched as he tasted a forkful of pie.

"Good," he said, though the coconut tasted like bad pi±a-colada mix and the cream was gluey. He was a practiced culinary liar. As a kid, when his mother had served swill he'd said, "Delish," along with Helena and Dad.

"Anything else, Officer Dahl?"

"Not for now, thanks." Nothing you've got.

"Okay, just let me know."

Nolan smiled again and she left.

Terrell Cochrane thought, That smile—one happy fucker. No reason for a cop to be happy 'ceptin' he busted some rodney with no video going.

Nolan ate more pie and again aimed his smile at Terrell. Then he shrugged.

The pimp looked sideways at Germadine, by now nodding half-comatose into her Coke. Few minutes more, bitch, then back outside for more gravel-knee.

The cop ate the rest of the pie, finished his coffee and his water, and the waitress was there right away with refills.

Bitch. After bringing Terrell's and Germadine's food, she'd mostly ignored them.

Terrell lifted his burger and watched her say something to the cop. The cop just kept smiling and shaking his head. The bitch gave the cop his check and the cop gave her money and she turned all grinny.

A twenty, keep it, was the reason.

Fuckers always tipped big, but this? All that smiling, must be celebrating something.

The cop looked into his empty coffee cup.

Then something came out from under the table.

His gun.

He was smiling at Terrell again. Showing him the gun!

The cop's arm stretched.

Terrell's bowels gave way as he ducked under the table, not bothering to push down on Germadine's head though he'd had plenty of practice doing that.

The other patrons saw Terrell's dive. The transsexuals and the drunken long-haul truck driver behind them and the toothless, senile, ninety-year-old man in the first booth.

Everyone ducked.

Except the Ethiopian waitress, who'd been talking to the Filipino cashier. She stared, too terrified to move.

Nolan Dahl nodded at the waitress. Smiled.

She thought, A sad smile, what's with this guy?

Nolan closed his eyes, almost as if he were praying. Opening them, he slid the nine-millimeter between his lips and, sucking like a baby, fixed his gaze on the waitress's pretty face.

She was still unable to move. He saw her terror, softened his eyes, trying to let her know it was okay, the only way.

A beautiful, black, final image. God this place smelled crappy.

He pulled the trigger.

From the Audio Cassette edition.

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Survival of the Fittest (Alex Delaware Series #12) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
When Alex Delaware is working a case with Milo Sturgis it always leads to interesting reading. They are joined by by Daniel Sharavi who becomes involved due to the murder of a diplomats daughter. The daughter is deaf and they begin seeing murders of other handicapped inviduals which they conclude is the motive for the murders. The belief is the murderers believe only the fit should survive. Many twists and turns and all are not predictable.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Written well but it's revenge laden with an overly strong we- can-control-anything tone.
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LTRA More than 1 year ago
A mystery that will surely hold your interest. Because, a child of a foreign diplomat was one of the victims. The wonder is who and why. The team of Milo and Alex is on the case by default, and the surprise is in their answers.
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Mystery7 More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't get enough of Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis!! What a wonderfully paired duo and how well they complement each other. An odd couple that works. Jonathan Kellerman never ceases to keep me turning pages and staying up later than I should.
GracieVS More than 1 year ago
Jonathon Kellerman's characters may seem a little too-well defined, but this makes them all the more compelling. Kellerman's skill as a word smith never disappoints. I always have a clear mental snap-shot of his characters, down to their shoe laces and pink plastic clip-ons. Like all his novels, "Survival of the Fittest" gives no peace. Even when I'm done reading, the topic teases and taunts. The romantic threads among the characters are anything but...they ebb and flow with aching realism. Milo is a gem! A surprise bonus is that his spin-off characters hold their shape and color. Characters by Kellerman are sure to please and keep you up all night.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is my first jonathan kellerman novel. i dont think ill be reading any others. its not a bad book it just seemed too coincidential and unreal. its hard to get caught up in the book and feel the experiences of the characters. its interesting and keeps you hooked though. also the ending seemed to come to together too too much of a happy ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
nothing can be better than this. makaes u experince it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my first book by Kellerman. I have never been a reader of crime/mystery novels, but I was unable to put it down once I started reading it. He is so decriptive and his writing makes you not want it to end. I loved it so much I went out and bought The Clinic which I am now reading. It is also wonderful. As a student of Psychology I was able to relate much of my knowledge to Alex Delware the main character. I cannot wait to read all 12 of his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where Milo was eating all that ice cream and wanted lots of chocolate sauce.