Survival of the Fittest (Alex Delaware Series #12)

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Overview

*A New York Times Bestseller

The nonstop action leaves you breathless . . . in this typically complicated, exciting Kellerman page-turner. -- starred, Publishers Weekly

When a slightly retarded fifteen-year-old girl dies on a school trip, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis and his friend psychologist Alex Delaware are stumped. There's no sign of a struggle and no evidence of sexual assault. Just an innocent young girl -- dead. Alex finds himself ...

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Overview

*A New York Times Bestseller

The nonstop action leaves you breathless . . . in this typically complicated, exciting Kellerman page-turner. -- starred, Publishers Weekly

When a slightly retarded fifteen-year-old girl dies on a school trip, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis and his friend psychologist Alex Delaware are stumped. There's no sign of a struggle and no evidence of sexual assault. Just an innocent young girl -- dead. Alex finds himself ensnared in one of the most menacing cases of his career.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
When a young, mentally disabled Israeli girl is found brutally murdered with the letters DVLL inscribed on her pocket, Alex Delaware and detective Milo Sturgis jump on the case. This is not an isolated incident, as Delaware and Sturgis are soon to discover, but an elaborate and psychotic scheme by a maniacal group to "cleanse" the human race.
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

  • ISBN-13: 9780345458841
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Series: Alex Delaware Series , #12
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 544
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 1.20 (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

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.

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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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

CHAPTER ONE

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 inmigration. 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.

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 pina-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.

CHAPTER TWO

HELENA DAHL GAVE ME A MOURNER'S ACCOUNT. THE rest I got from the papers and from Milo.

The young cop's suicide merited only two inches on page 23 with no follow-up. But the flash-point violence stayed with me and when Milo called a few weeks later and asked me to see Helena, I said, "That one. Any idea yet why he did it?"

"Nope. That's probably what she wants to talk about. Rick says don't feel obligated, Alex. She's a nurse at Cedars, worked with him in the E.R. and doesn't want to see the in-house shrinks. But it's not like she's a close friend."

"Has the department done its own investigation?"

"Probably."

"You haven't heard anything?"

"Those kinds of things are kept quiet and I'm not exactly in the loop. Only thing I've heard is the kid was different. Quiet, stuck to himself, read books."

"Books," I said. "Well, there's a motive for you."

He laughed. "Guns don't kill, introspection does?"

I laughed back. But I thought about that.

Helena Dahl called me that evening and I arranged to see her in my home office the following morning. She arrived precisely on time, a tall, handsome woman of thirty, with very short straight blond hair and sinewy arms exposed by a navy blue tank top. The tank was tucked into jeans and she wore tennies without socks. Her face was a lean oval, well-sunned, her eyes light blue, her mouth exceptionally wide. No jewelry. No wedding ring. She gave my hand a firm shake, tried to smile, thanked me for seeing her, then followed me.

The new house is set up for therapy. I take patients in through a side door, crossing the Japanese garden and passing the fish pond. People usually stop to look at the koi or at least comment but she didn't.

Inside she sat very straight with her hands on her knees. Most of my work involves children caught up in the court system and a portion of the office is set aside for play therapy. She didn't look at the toys.

"This is the first time I've done this." Her voice was soft and low but it carried some authority. An E.R. nurse would make good use of that.

"Even after my divorce, I never talked to anyone," she added. "I really don't know what I expect."

"Maybe to make some sense of it?" I said gently.

"You think that's possible?"

"You may be able to learn more, but some questions can never be answered."

"Well, at least you're honest. Shall we get right into it?"

"If you're ready--"

"I don't know what I am but why waste time? It's ... you know about the basic details?"

I nodded.

"There was really no warning, Dr. Delaware. He was such a ..."

Then she cried.

Then she spilled it out.

"NOLAN WAS SMART, SHE SAID. "I MEAN SERIOUSLY smart, brilliant. So the last thing you'd think he'd end up being was a cop--no offense to Rick's friend, but that's not exactly what comes to mind when you think intellectual, right?"

Milo had a master's degree in literature. I said, "So Nolan was an intellectual."

"Definitely."

"How much education did he have?"

"Two years of college. Cal State Northridge. Psychology major, as a matter of fact."

"He didn't finish."

"He had trouble ... finishing things. Maybe it was rebellion--our parents were heavily into education. Maybe he just got sick of classes, I don't know. I'm three years older, was already working by the time he dropped out. No one expected him to join the police. The only thing I can think of is he'd gotten politically conservative, real law-and-order. But still ... the other thing is, he always loved ... sleaze."

"Sleaze?"

"Spooky stuff, the dark side of things. As a kid he was always into horror movies, really gross stuff, the grossest. His senior year in high school, he went through a stage where he grew his hair long and listened to heavy metal and pierced his ears five times. My parents were convinced he was into satanism or something."

"Was he?"

"Who knows? But you know parents."

"Did they hassle him?"

"No, that wasn't their style. They just rode it out."

"Tolerant?"

"Unassertive. Nolan always did what he wanted--"

She cut the sentence short.

"Where'd you grow up?" I said.

"The Valley. Woodland Hills. My father was an engineer, worked at Lockheed, passed away five years ago. My mother was a social worker but never worked. She's gone, too. A stroke, a year after Dad died. She had hypertension, never took care of it. She was only sixty. But maybe she's the lucky one--not having to know what Nolan did."

Her hands balled.

"Any other family?" I said.

"No, just Nolan and me. He never married and I'm divorced. No kids. My ex is a doctor." She smiled. "Big surprise. Gary's a pulmonologist, basically a nice guy. But he decided he wanted to be a farmer so he moved to North Carolina."

"You didn't want to be a farmer?"

"Not really. But even if I did he didn't ask me along." Her eyes shot to the floor.

"So you're bearing all this alone," I said.

"Yup. Where was I--oh, the satanic nonsense. No big deal, it didn't last long and then Nolan got back to normal teenage stuff. School, sports, girls, his car."

"Did he maintain his taste for the dark side?"

"Probably not--I don't know why I brought that up. What do you think about the way Nolan did it?"

"Using his service gun?"

She winced. "I meant so publically, in front of all those people. Like saying screw you to the world."

"Maybe that was his message."

"I thought it was theatrical," she said, as if she hadn't heard.

"Was he a theatrical person?"

"Hard to say. He was very good-looking, big, made an impression--the kind of guy you noticed when he entered a room. Did he milk that? Maybe a bit when he was a kid. As an adult? The truth is, Dr. Delaware, Nolan and I lost touch. We were never close. And now--"

More tears. "As a little kid he always enjoyed being the center of attention. But other times he didn't want anything to do with anybody, just crawled into his own little space."

"Moody?"

"A family trait." She rubbed her knees and looked past me. "My dad underwent shock therapy for depression when Nolan and I were in grade school. We were never told what was going on, just that he was going into the hospital for a couple of days. But after he died, Mom told us."

"How many treatments did he have?"

"I don't know, three, maybe four. When he'd come home he'd be wiped out, fuzzy about remembering--like what you see in head-injury patients. They say ECT works better now but I'm sure it damaged his brain. He faded in middle age, took early retirement, sat around reading and listening to Mozart."

"He must have been severely depressed to get ECT," I said.

"Must have been but I never really saw it. He was quiet, sweet, shy."

"What was his relationship with Nolan?"

"There wasn't much of one that I could see. Even though Nolan was gifted, he was into typical macho stuff. Sports, surfing, cars. Dad's idea of recreation was ..."--she smiled--"reading and listening to Mozart."

"Dad never had conflict with anyone."

"How did Nolan react to your father's death?"

"He cried at the funeral. Afterward, we both tried to comfort Mom for a while, then he just drifted away again."

She pinched her lower lip. "I didn't want Nolan to have one of those big LAPD funerals, gun salutes, all that crap. No one at the department argued. Like they were happy not to deal with it. I had him cremated. He left a will, all his stuff is mine. Dad's and Mom's stuff, too. I'm the survivor."

Too much pain. I backtracked. "What was your mother like?"

"More outgoing than Dad. Not moody. On the contrary, she was always up, cheerful, optimistic. Probably why she stroked out--holding it all inside." She rubbed her knee again. "I don't want to make our family sound weird. We weren't. Nolan was a regular guy. Partying, chasing girls. Just smarter. He got A's without working."

"What did he do after dropping out of college?"

"Bummed around, worked different jobs. Then all of a sudden he calls me, announces he's graduated from the police academy. I hadn't heard from him since Mom died."

"When was this?"

"About a year and a half ago. He told me the academy was a joke, Mickey Mouse. He'd graduated high in his class. He said he'd called me just to let me know. In case I happened to see him drive by in a car, I shouldn't be freaked out."

"Was he assigned to Hollywood from the beginning?"

"No. West L.A. That's why he thought I might see him, at Cedars. He might come in to the E.R. with a suspect or a victim."

In case I happened to see him. What she'd described was less a family than a series of accidental pairings.

"What kind of jobs did he work before he joined LAPD?"

"Construction, auto repair, crewing on a fishing boat off Santa Barbara. That I remember because Mom showed me some fish he'd brought her. Halibut. She liked smoked fish and he had some halibut smoked."

"What about relationships with women?"

"He had girlfriends in high school, but after that I don't know--can I walk around?"

"Sure."

thing always came easy to Nolan. Maybe he just wanted to take the easy way out. Maybe that was the problem. He wasn't prepared for when things didn't come easy."

"Do you know of specific problems he was having?"

"No, no, I don't know anything--I was just thinking back to high school. I used to agonize over algebra and Nolan would waltz into my room, look over my shoulder, and tell me the answer to an equation. Three years younger--he must have been eleven, but he could figure it out."

She stopped, faced a bookshelf. "When Rick Silverman gave me your name, he told me about his friend on the force and we got into a discussion of the police. Rick said it was a paramilitary organization. Nolan always wanted to be noticed. Why would he be attracted to something so conformist?"

"Maybe he got tired of being noticed," I said.

She stood there for a while, sat back down.

"Maybe I'm doing this because I feel guilty for not being closer to him. But he never seemed to want to get close."

"Even if you had been close, you couldn't have prevented it."

"You're saying it's a waste of time to try to stop someone from killing themselves?"

"It's always important to try to help, and many people who are stopped never attempt again. But if someone's determined to do it, they'll eventually succeed."

"I don't know if Nolan was determined. I don't know him!"

She burst into loud, racking sobs. When she quieted I handed her a tissue and she snatched it and slapped it against her eyes. "I hate this--I don't know if I can keep doing this."

I said nothing.

Looking to the side, she said, "I'm his executor. After Mom died, the lawyer handling our parents' estate said we should each write a will." She laughed. "Estate. The house and a bunch of junk. We rented out the house, split the money, then after my divorce, I asked Nolan if I could live there, send him half the rent. He wouldn't take it. Said he didn't need it--didn't need anything. Was that a warning sign?"

Before I could answer, she stood again. "How much more time do we have?"

"Twenty minutes."

. . .

SHE'D PARKED A BROWN MUSTANG OFF THE PROPERTY out on the bridle trial that snakes up from Beverly Glen. The morning air was hot and dusty, the smell of pines from the neighboring ravine piercing and cleansing.

"Thanks," she said, unlocking the car.

"Would you like to make another appointment?"

She got in and lowered the window. The car was spotless empty except for two white uniforms hanging over a rear door. "Can I get back to you? I need to check the on-call schedule."

Patient's version of don't call me, I'll call you.

"Of course."

"Thanks again, Dr. Delaware. I'll be in touch."

She sped away and I returned to the house, thinking about the meager history she'd given me.

Nolan too smart to be a cop. But plenty of cops were smart. Other characteristics--athletic, macho, dominant, attracted to the dark side--fit the police stereotype. A few years bumming around before seeking the security of a city job and a pension. Right-wing political views; I'd have liked to hear more about that.

She'd also described a partial family history of serious mood disorder. A cop judged "different" by his peers.

That could add to the alienation brought about by the job.

Nolan's life sounded full of alienation.

So even though his sister was understandably shocked, no big surprises, so far.

Nothing that came close to explaining why Nolan had sucked his gun at Go-Ji's.

Not that I was likely to get any closer to it, because the way she'd left told me it would probably be a one-shot deal.

In my business you learn to make do with unanswered questions.

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Interviews & Essays

On Wednesday, November 19th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Jonathan Kellerman to discuss SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST.


Moderator: Good evening, Mr. Kellerman. Thanks for joining us. Is this your first online chat?

Jonathan Kellerman: Hi, it's a pleasure to be here. It's not my first chat, but the first this year.


Keith from Corsicana, Texas: Hello, Dr. Kellerman. I first want to tell you how impressed I am with your novels. I found out about you late -- the first book I read was BAD LOVE. I have since read all your books and look forward eagerly to each new one. My question is two-part: Do you still do any consultation work in the psychology field and do you base your stories on actual case histories? (I am a behavioralist for individuals with dual diagnoses.) Second, do you intend to do any book signings in the Dallas, Texas, area in the near future? Keep up the good work. You are definitely a literary treasure.

Jonathan Kellerman: First of all, thanks, Keith, for your kind words. Writing's an isolated and isolating business, and it's always nice to hear from real people. I haven't worked as a psychologist since 1988. I did write three novels while in full-time practice, but eventually it just got to be too difficult. I am still a professor at USC med school (unpaid), though why they keep me on faculty is a mystery since I don't do much. I never base my stories on real people, because I take very seriously the oath of confidentiality I took as a psychologist. However, I feel that my experience has helped me understand how people react in a wide variety of situations and, hopefully, endows the novels with a sense of authenticity. Finally, due to carpal tunnel syndrome, I rarely do signings anymore. I do enjoy meeting readers, so perhaps when my next book comes out from Random House I'll get to do a little touring. I do like Dallas -- bought some great boots there. Thanks again.


Kelly from Burlington, VT: How did you learn to write suspense? I live in a wooded neighborhood, and your books keep me completely on edge! I love them!

Jonathan Kellerman: Tough question, Kelly. I think writing's something one is born with -- perhaps a warped mind is at play here. I never took any writing classes -- I'm sure there are those who think I should've. I simply did a lot of writing, including eight unpublished novels over a 13-year "dry stretch." Finally, I figured out how to do it. I like writing suspense because it helps me deal with my own cowardice. Don't feel sheepish about getting scared. An FBI agent who's also a serial killer profiler once told me THE BUTCHER'S THEATER scared the daylights out of her.


JoJo Azapardi from NYC: What kind of writing training did you have? It seems that the thriller is an impossible thing to write -- how do you manage to create and maintain such suspense? Do you have any inspirations?

Jonathan Kellerman: I guess the last answer deals with your question, in part. Let me add that I was greatly influenced by reading great suspense fiction, particularly Conan Doyle and the California hard-boiled-detective writers: Ross MacDonald, Raymond Chandler, Hammett, Jonathan Latimer, James Cain. I'm also a great fan of the suspense classics: Poe, Dumas, R. L. Stevenson. Other favorite authors include Wambaugh, Elmore Leonard, Ruth Rendell. And, of course, my wife. I mean that! Maintaining suspense is best accomplished when one has known fear personally. I have a wonderful letter from Stephen King apologizing for not reading my first novel,WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, sooner. The topic scared him (S.K's a great guy. Very supportive of other writers.)


Tom Lee from Nashville, TN: Just finished SURVIVAL and loved it! Magnificent! I was wondering what kind of reaction you got to THE WEB two years ago. I heard a lot of negative reaction, since it strays from your typical pattern, but I thought it was one of your best. Thanks. Also, thanks for releasing this year's novel a little earlier than usual.

Jonathan Kellerman: Thanks, Tom, especially for your support of THE WEB. In order to keep the series fresh and to avoid hacking out the same old thing, I'm constantly searching for ways to test the limits. THE WEB was one such attempt, and I must say I'm still rather pleased with it. Inspired by H. G. Wells, R. L. Stevenson, etc., I wanted to write a spooky crime/borderline horror story in an exotic location. Also, in retrospect I realize I wrote the book because Faye and I found out we were having our fourth child and our vacation plans got screwed up. So I gave Alex Delaware a vacation and lived vicariously through him, which is what we novelists basically do anyway. I did catch some flak about the book -- seems some people like the same old thing. However, it outsold every previous Delaware, so I suppose most people thought it was okay. The reason SURVIVAL was released earlier was because Bantam thought I could compete with the big boys -- and girls -- during the hot fall publication season. They'd been suggesting it for a while, but I felt if it ain't broken, don't fix it, and asked to stick with winter. Finally, I got brave.


Chris Wofford from London, England: Did you have a model for Milo Sturgis, or is he completely imaginary? What about for Alex? Have you ever begun a character and been forced to abandon him for lack of development? Who's your favorite?

Jonathan Kellerman: Totally imaginary, though I'd love to know someone like him. Ditto for A.D. Some people claim he's like me, but he's actually a lot handsomer, braver, younger, more fit. My wife says he's a little too straitlaced for her. She feels Milo better represents my rather odd sense of humor. I've never abandoned a character once he or she is in the book. I do outline extensively before I start a book -- it takes two to six months to prepare the novel -- and many characters fall by the wayside. No favorites -- it's like picking among your kids. I generally have the warmest spot in my heart for the characters I'm currently living with, i.e., writing about.


Dee from Kalamazoo: I have greatly enjoyed all of your Alex Delaware novels. I have also enjoyed your wife's books, though I have not read them all yet. I wondered, do you read each other's novels while they are in progress?

Jonathan Kellerman: Yes, Dee. We read chapters in progress about every two weeks. Thank God we generally love each other's stuff. We've also learned how to critique courteously and how to take constructive criticism graciously. Otherwise there'd be some COLD nights in L.A.


Karen from Ottawa, Canada: Hi, Dr. Kellerman. Do you ever worry that Alex Delaware might someday run into Cabot's Cove Syndrome? I mean, I work as a psychotherapist, and I rarely trip over dead bodies in the hall on my way to work :-). Although I suppose if my best friend were a cop, it might up the odds a little.

Jonathan Kellerman: Ha. Well, consider it this way: A TV show runs 22 episodes per year, so stories are bound to run thin. I work extremely hard to produce around one novel per year, which keeps the quantity down and, hopefully, the quality up. I might add here that I do want to write non-Delaware books and have in fact finished such a work -- to be published by Random House one year from now (shameless plug, shameless plug). Female cop with a past, police procedural. The reception by Random House and my foreign publishers has been very enthusiastic. Hopefully the most important judges -- the readers -- will agree.


Mark from NYC: Did you go to college campuses to research THE CLINIC? You had a good feel for them in that book. Alex Delaware fit right in.

Jonathan Kellerman: I go all sorts of place to research my books. As a med school professor and one who spent seven years pursuing so-called higher education, I'm quite familiar with college campuses. Thanks.


Keith from Corsicana, Texas: One more question for you. In addition to working with individuals with MR, I also, with my partner, run an independent virtual bookstore for collectible and rare books called the Gargadillo. Would it be possible to send a book (or two ) to you for an autograph or perhaps send some bookplates for your signature? Hope you can sometime check us out at www.gargadillo.com and perhaps sign our guestbook. It would be a tremendous honor. Thank you again.

Jonathan Kellerman: As I said, I don't sign much due to carpal tunnel. I do have a personalized stamp. Please contact me through my agent, Barney Karpfinger, (212) 691-2690, and I'll try to help.


Mitchell from Ottawa, Canada: Hi, Dr. Kellerman: We're prolific correspondents up here in Ottawa. I hadn't intended to ask you about THE WEB, but since you've mentioned it.... It was clear that you were trying to do something different, but did you feel at any point that you were bogging down in the sense of horror that you were trying to build up? This isn't to suggest that you should stick with a fixed formula -- certainly not! -- but did those criticisms to which you referred have anything to do with flow and pacing? BTW, this question comes from an avid fan of Alex, Robin, Milo, and the gang, and I'm looking forward to reading SURVIVAL.

Jonathan Kellerman: All the criticisms I saw related to the book a) not being in L.A., b) being too weird, and c) not featuring Milo. One disgruntled fan wrote, "I just read a Stephen King book by Jonathan Kellerman." Who knows? One does one's best -- believe me, it would be easier to just churn out the same old stuff. My obsessive-compulsive, perfectionistic personality won't allow me to do that, however.


Tom Lee from Nashville, TN: Who are your favorite mystery writers? Do you read Sue Grafton?

Jonathan Kellerman: As previously answered, there are many -- Wambaugh, Leonard, Ellroy, Rendell, F. Kellerman. I choose not to attempt comprehensiveness here, for fear of insulting someone left out. I do enjoy Sue Grafton's books very much. And I know her personally. Great woman.


Clare Winters from Hinsdale, IL: Do you model Delaware after yourself? Is there anything about him that you don't like or might change in the next book? Will there be a next book? If so, when?

Jonathan Kellerman: A.D. is a Walter Mitty fantasy of who I might be if I were younger, more dashing, not married-with-kids, etc. I watch out for his tendency to be a little too serious. The next book, already finished, is a non-Delaware, due out 11/99. I'm about halfway through the next Delaware and am planning at least four more after that.


Scott lePine from BDD-Oregon/Alaska: SURVIVAL is the best read yet in my opinion. I am always looking forward to your next book. Checks locally today in OR prove that SURVIVAL is selling better than any previous. How long till the next Alex Delaware? Hope to see you on the road in the Northwest.

Jonathan Kellerman: Hello again, Scott, and thanks for all your good work (Scott is a crack sales manager and gourmet from my soon-to-be former publishing house). As noted, next Delaware: 11/99.


Chuck from Portland, OR: What, if anything, separates American suspense fiction from British? I have a vague sense of differences, but find it hard to put my finger on them. You've clearly spent a lot of time with both.

Jonathan Kellerman: Excellent question. The one thing that comes to mind is that the British suspense I admire -- P. D. James, Ruth Rendell, John Harvey, Ian Rankin (he's Scottish, but let's include the entire UK) -- has a certain dark or bleak pessimism that you don't always find in American writing. Certainly Ellroy, etc., write dark, but there's still that America ebullience and heat -- we Americans tend to be almost naively optimistic. Make sense?


Kay Stewart from Austin, Texas: I love all your books and have read them from the very first -- I've been a fan for a long time. I'm also a big fan of your wife's series. My question is: Have you guys thought about Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis meeting Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus? I keep thinking that Milo and Peter will run across each other somehow.

Jonathan Kellerman: Faye and I have been married 25.5 years and do just about everything together but write. So we tend to keep our books separate. That said, we have gotten cute a few times, mostly with minor overlapping minor characters or references to each other's protagonists. I believe Milo appeared briefly in Faye's wonderful book SANCTUARY. And I refer to Decker, rather obliquely, in SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST. Who knows, though. Never say never.


Carla from Fulton, MS: Have you ever been asked about making a movie of one of your books? I think Alex Delaware would be just as good on the big screen as James Patterson's Alex Cross. I'm a big fan -- please keep up the good work.

Jonathan Kellerman: I think so, too. However, Hollywood doesn't seem to agree. Most comments I get refer to the books being too complex or too intellectual for film adaptation. A TV movie of WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS came out in 1986 -- not bad, for a TV movie. I have a three-book deal with Coppola for TV movies but it's going nowhere fast, and I hope they let the rights revert to me soon. I'd love to see a first-rate film done, but it would have to be a great director, excellent cast, etc. Life's too short for bad flicks. Thanks.


J.R. Mercer from Phoenix, AZ: Do you often incorporate your patient's stories into your plots? Basically I'm wondering if I should watch what I tell my therapist! Anyway, you are a master of the thrill!

Jonathan Kellerman: Never. 1) I take confidentiality very seriously, and 2) the whole fun of writing fiction is making stuff up. Thanks.


Marcy Nance from Portland: Hi, Mr. Kellerman! Do you find that you have a specific audience in mind when you write? How do you characterize your audience?

Jonathan Kellerman: Nope. This is going to sound narcissistic, but I write for myself, figuring if I get scared, curious, thrilled, etc., so will other people. I feel that if you write for an audience it gets in the way of creativity as you try to be a crowd-pleaser, commercial, politically correct, etc. My audience, obviously, is erudite, charming, witty, and just reeking of excellent taste!


Keith from Corsicana: On a personal note, what adaptations have you had to make to your writing due to the carpal tunnel syndrome? Do you use any special equipment or adaptive equipment? To turn out as many books as you do in the time frame you set for yourself, this must be quite a hindrance.

Jonathan Kellerman: I've ergonomized my office and learned about stretching and strengthening from a wonderful rehab therapist. I can type for four to five hours at a time and play guitar. The only thing that seems to really hurt is handwriting, ergo the lack of signings.


Jerry Sandack from Boston: How often are your novels based on real occurrences? Are you ever sparked by stories on the news? What gave you the idea for the plot of SURVIVAL?

Jonathan Kellerman: Sometimes real events inspire me, but they are seldom the "big stories," because those are already out in the public domain. My taste is for the bizarre, the arcane, the little known. Sometimes, however, I just make things up out of whole cloth. SURVIVAl developed in several directions: my desire to find a good story for both A.D. and Daniel Sharavi, from THE BUTCHER'S THEATER; my concern over various social issues -- I won't say more for fear of revealing too much plot; and my desire to send A.D. undercover. And probably other stuff that I've forgotten or am not aware of consciously. Sometimes it takes years to figure out where a book really came from.


Ned S. from West Village: Hello, Mr. Kellerman. THE CLINIC was the first Delaware novel I read. I enjoyed it. Do you recommend that these books be read in a certain order? Or should I just go ahead and read what catches my eye?

Jonathan Kellerman: I try to write the series in a way that each book stands on its own. Selfishly, I'd love you to try SURVIVAL, because it's fresh out of the oven. But honestly, I think the books can be read in any sequence.


Garreth from Computer Center: Hey Kellerman! How do you do it? Are you ever surprised yourself at the way your books turn out? Or is everything carefully mapped out before you even begin? Keep it up, in any case -- it's awesome!

Jonathan Kellerman: I plot and outline extensively before I begin writing a book, including a chapter-by-chapter outline that can be 100 pages long -- a minibook, I guess. I like to think I know where I'm going, but the funny thing is, the book often turns out quite different from the outline, and I do get surprised. My wife says the same thing happens to her. I appreciate your kind comments.


Anne Bond from Texico,IL: What do you do when you have writer's block?

Jonathan Kellerman: Never had writer's block. I think outlining, per the previous answer, helps. I write five, sometimes six days a week, which is not to say it always comes out great. Sometimes I write garbage. I start each day by rewriting the previous day's work. This helps smooth out the narrative flow in addition to (hopefully) improving the quality of the prose.


Janine Brooker from Long Beach: What a great relationship you must have with old Alex! Have you envisioned an end to him yet?

Jonathan Kellerman: No, unlike Conan Doyle and Sherlock, no plans to throw him over a waterfall. The guy's been good to me. And he doesn't even ask for a new car!


Mark from Larchmont: What would you say if you met Alex Delaware on the street?

Jonathan Kellerman: I'll take you out for a great dinner, but I have four kids to send through school, so you still can't have a share of the royalties!


Tom Frick from ind: Did you do any kind of research before writing this book? It seems you must have studied the mind of homicidal maniacs!

Jonathan Kellerman: Some books require research, some don't. Fortunately, I enjoy all that preliminary work.


Jack Green from aol: I have been a big fan of Alex Delaware's since the beginning, but I have to ask, aren't you sick of him after 12 episodes? What's your trick for continued interest and development?

Jonathan Kellerman: A.D. is a great vehicle for telling some of the stories I want to tell. So far I haven't gotten sick of him, though I do want to write more non-Delaware books. The old saw is, Write what you know, so I guess the trick is learning as much as you can about as many topics as possible. I'm an extremely curious person with a real interest in anything out of the ordinary. I like to joke that I'm getting paid to do what I used to get in trouble for at school -- spacing out and imagining stories.


Skip from Manhattan: Mr. Kellerman! I'm an old fan. Tell me, what did you do before you began this marvelous saga! Did you always write a bit of fiction?

Jonathan Kellerman: I was a practicing psychologist and medical school professor for 15 years. I worked with seriously ill children and their families in a major pediatric hospital, had a private practice, consulted to the military, served as an expert witness in superior court, etc. Lots of interesting stuff. I've been writing fiction seriously since the age of 19 and won a literary award as an undergrad at UCLA. It took 13 years of struggle to publish full-length fiction. Had to experience enough life to have something to say, I suppose.


Rory from Texas: What do you read in your spare time? (That is, if you have any.) Thanks for all of your books; my commutes would be dull without them!

Jonathan Kellerman: I read a good deal more nonfiction than fiction, though great novels, such as SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS, are always appreciated. I read dozens of periodicals each month, ranging from art to forensics to psychology, and I love travel books, especially those with a flair such as Tim Cahill's JAGUARS RIPPED MY FLESH. Your kind comments are much appreciated -- happy commuting.


Anne from Brighton Beach: I, too, am a writer, though yet unpublished -- how did you get your first story printed?

Jonathan Kellerman: First story was submitted by my literary agent in 1977 to Alfred Hitchcock's mystery magazine. First novel was written in 1981, rejected by several agents, not sold till 1983, not published till 1985. Perseverance is as important as talent -- inspiration plus perspiration. Keep writing.


Lori from Searcy, AR: I enjoy all your books. DEVIL'S WALTZ was the first I read, then I had to go out and buy all the rest, and I've been buying ever since. I really don't have a question but just wanted to tell you that I am a big fan of yours. Your wife is great, also. I have read all her books. Keep up the wonderful work

Jonathan Kellerman: Thank you, thank you, thank you, muchas gracias. Sometimes people assume writers get tired of kind comments. But we don't. We're all babies in dire need of approval. I agree that my wife is a fantastic writer -- wait till you see what she has in store next year!


Carole from Great neck, NY: I have read all your books and your wife's books. I love them all. How about A.D. and Milo going to an exotic locale to solve an ancient mystery..an added psychological twist to an old murder mystery? Do you like old mystery's, e.g., A MURKY BUSINESS (Balzac) or THE MOONSTONE?

Jonathan Kellerman: Interesting idea. I haven't gotten to THE MOONSTONE yet, though I've promised myself to do it. I do love Conan Doyle and Poe. Anything with great characters and a strong story line. I have old-fashioned tastes, and I suppose that filters down to: Give me a beginning, middle, end, conflict and tension, people we care about, some kind of resolution. Thanks.


Moderator: Thanks so much for taking all of our questions! We'll look forward to seeing you again here in the future. Goodnight!

Jonathan Kellerman: Thanks to barnesandnoble.com, too. And, of course, to all my readers. I am acutely aware that without you, I'd be a very unhappy writer. Best wishes to all for a prosperous, healthy, and suspense-ridden New Year.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2002

    good storyline but not very believeable

    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 perfect....like too much of a happy ending.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Suspenseful

    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.

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

    Posted July 24, 2013

    Very good.

    I liked the part where Milo was eating all that ice cream and wanted lots of chocolate sauce.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2012

    OK BUT...

    Written well but it's revenge laden with an overly strong we- can-control-anything tone.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    Survival of the Fittest

    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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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    Excellent read.

    Excellent!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2009

    Delaware and Sturgis do it again!

    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.

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  • Posted March 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is the good stuff.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2001

    Excellent

    nothing can be better than this. makaes u experince it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2000

    You will not be able to put this book down!!!

    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.

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    Posted August 17, 2010

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    Posted June 12, 2011

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    Posted March 13, 2013

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    Posted May 5, 2011

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    Posted October 22, 2009

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    Posted December 29, 2009

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    Posted July 25, 2010

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    Posted June 10, 2013

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    Posted January 25, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

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