When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware Series #1)

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In the first Alex Delaware novel, Dr. Morton Handler practiced a strange brand of psychiatry. Among his specialties were fraud, extortion, and sexual manipulation. Handler paid for his sins when he was brutally murdered in his luxurious Pacific Palisades apartment. The police have no leads, but they do have one possible witness: seven-year-old Melody Quinn.

It's psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware's job to try to unlock the terrible secret buried ...
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When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware Series #1)

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In the first Alex Delaware novel, Dr. Morton Handler practiced a strange brand of psychiatry. Among his specialties were fraud, extortion, and sexual manipulation. Handler paid for his sins when he was brutally murdered in his luxurious Pacific Palisades apartment. The police have no leads, but they do have one possible witness: seven-year-old Melody Quinn.

It's psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware's job to try to unlock the terrible secret buried in Melody's memory. But as the sinister shadows in the girl's mind begin to take shape, Alex discovers that the mystery touches a shocking incident in his own past.

This connection is only the beginning, a single link in a forty-year-old conspiracy. And behind it lies an unspeakable evil that Alex Delaware must expose before it claims another innocent victim: Melody Quinn.
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Editorial Reviews

John Gross
Dr. Kellerman, it would appear, knows whereof he writes, and ''When the Bough Breaks'' marks an assured and more than promising debut. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At 33, burnt-out child psychologist Alex Davenport is persuaded to look into the murder of a psychiatrist that may have been witnessed by a little girl who won't talk about it. The murder trail leads to evidence of a group of child molesters. PW stated that Kellerman, a child psychologist himself, writes ``with authority and humor, sensitivity and more than considerable skill.'' (May)
From the Publisher
“Suspenseful . . . neatly spun, fascinating.”—Philadelphia Daily News
“Grab yourself a copy soon!”—Los Angeles Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553569612
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Series: Alex Delaware Series, #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.89 (h) x 1.26 (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 & 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





It was shaping up as a beautiful morning. The last thing I wanted to hear about was murder.

A cool Pacific current had swept its way across the coastline for two days running, propelling the pollution to Pasadena. My house is nestled in the foothills just north of Bel Air, situated atop an old bridle path that snakes its way around Beverly Glen, where opulence gives way to self-conscious funk. It’s a neighborhood of Porsches and coyotes, bad sewers and sequestered streams.

The place itself is eighteen hundred square feet of silvered redwood, weathered shingles and tinted glass. In the suburbs it might be a shack; up here in the hills it’s a rural retreat—nothing fancy, but lots of terraces, decks, pleasing angles and visual surprises. The house had been designed by and for a Hungarian artist who went broke trying to peddle oversized polychromatic triangles to the galleries on La Cienega. Art’s loss had been my gain by way of L.A. probate court. On a good day—like today—the place came with an ocean view, a cerulean patch that peeked timidly above the Palisades.

I had slept alone with the windows open—burglars and neoMansonites be damned—and awoke at ten, naked, covers thrown to the floor in the midst of some forgotten dream. Feeling lazy and sated, I propped myself on my elbows, drew up the covers and stared at the caramel layers of sunlight streaming through French doors. What finally got me up was the invasion of a housefly who alternated between searching my sheets for carrion and dive-bombing my head.

I shuffled to the bathroom and began filling a tub, then made my way to the kitchen to scavenge, tak- ing the fly with me. I put up coffee, and the fly and I shared an onion bagel. Ten-twenty on a Monday morning with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Oh, blessed decadence.

It had been almost half a year since my premature retirement and I was still amazed at how easy it was to make the transition from compulsive overachiever to self-indulgent bum. Obviously I’d had it in me from the beginning.

I returned to the bathroom, sat on the rim of the tub munching and drew up a vague plan for the day: a leisurely soak, a cursory scan of the morning paper, perhaps a jog down the canyon and back, a shower, a visit to—

The doorbell jarred me out of my reverie.

I tied a towel around my waist and walked to the front entry in time to see Milo let himself in.

“It was unlocked,” he said, closing the door hard and tossing the Times on the sofa. He stared at me and I drew the towel tighter.

“Good morning, nature boy.”

I motioned him in.

“You really should lock the door, my friend. I’ve got files at the station that illustrate nicely what happens to people who don’t.”

“Good morning, Milo.”

I padded into the kitchen and poured two cups of coffee. Milo followed me like a lumbering shadow, opened the refrigerator and took out a plate of cold pizza that I had no recollection of ever owning. He tailed me back to the living room, collapsed on my old leather sofa—an artifact of the abandoned office on Wilshire—balanced the plate on his thigh and stretched out his legs.

I turned off the bathwater and settled opposite him on a camelskin ottoman.

Milo is a big man—six-two, two-twenty—with a big man’s way of going loose and dangly when he gets off his feet. This morning he looked like an oversized rag doll slumped against the cushions—a doll with a broad, pleasant face, almost boyish except for the acne pits that peppered the skin, and the tired eyes. The eyes were startlingly green and rimmed with red, topped by shaggy dark brows and a Kennedyesque shock of thick black hair. His nose was large and high-bridged, his lips full, childishly soft. Sideburns five years out of date trailed down the scarred cheeks.

As usual he wore ersatz Brooks Brothers: olive-green gabardine suit, yellow button-down, mint and gold rep stripe tie, oxblood wing tips. The total effect was as preppy as W. C. Fields in red skivvies.

He ignored me and concentrated on the pizza.

“So glad you could make it for breakfast.”

When his plate was empty he asked, “So, how are you doing, pal?”

“I was doing great. What can I do for you, Milo?”

“Who says I want you to do anything?” He brushed crumbs from his lap to the rug. “Maybe this is a social call.”

“You waltzing in, unannounced, with that bloodhound look all over your face isn’t a social call.”

“Such intuitive powers.” He ran his hands over his face, as if washing without water. “I need a favor,” he said.

“Take the car. I won’t be needing it until late afternoon.”

“No, it’s not that this time. I need your professional services.”

That gave me pause.

“You’re out of my age range,” I said. “Besides, I’m out of the profession.”

“I’m not kidding, Alex. I’ve got one of your colleagues lying on a slab at the morgue. Fellow by the name of Morton Handler.”

I knew the name, not the face.

“Handler’s a psychiatrist.”

“Psychiatrist, psychologist. Minor semantic distinction at this point. What he is, is dead. Throat slashed, a little bit of evisceration tossed in. Along with a lady friend—same treatment for her but worse—sexual mutilation, nose sliced off. The place where it happened—his place—was an abattoir.”

Abattoir. Milo’s master’s degree in American Lit asserting itself.

I put down my coffee cup.

“Okay, Milo. I’ve lost my appetite. Now tell me what all of that has to do with me.”

He went on as if he hadn’t heard me.

“I got called on it at five a.m. I’ve been knee-deep in blood and crud since then. It stunk in there—people smell bad when they die. I’m not talking decay, this is the stench that sets in before decay. I thought I was used to it. Every so often I catch another whiff and it gets me right here.” He poked himself in the belly. “Five in the morning. I left an irritated lover in bed. My head feels ready to implode. Gobs of flesh at five in the morning. Jesus.”

He stood and looked out the window, gazing out over the tops of pines and eucalyptus. From where I sat I could see smoke rising in indolent swirls from a distant fireplace.

“It’s really nice up here, Alex. Does it ever bore you, being in paradise with nothing to do?”

“Not a hint of ennui.”

“Yeah. I guess not. You don’t want to hear any more about Handler and the girl.”

“Stop playing passive-aggressive, Milo, and spit it out.”

He turned and looked down at me. The big, ugly face showed new signs of fatigue.

“I’m depressed, Alex.” He held out his empty cup like some overgrown, slack-jawed Oliver Twist. “Which is why I’ll tolerate more of this disgusting swill.”

I took the cup and got him a refill. He gulped it audibly.

“We’ve got a possible witness. A kid who lives in the same building. She’s pretty confused, not sure what she saw. I took one look at her and thought of you. You could talk to her, maybe try a little hypnosis to enhance her memory.”

“Don’t you have Behavioral Sciences for that?”

He reached into his coat pocket and took out a handful of Polaroids. “Look at these beauties.”

I gave the pictures a second’s glance. What I saw turned my stomach. I returned them quickly.

“For God’s sake, don’t show me stuff like that!”

“Some mess, huh? Blood and crud.” He drained his cup, lifting it high to catch every last drop. “Behavioral Science is cut down to one guy who’s kept busy weeding weirdos out of the department. Next priority is counseling the weirdos who slip through. If I put in an application for this kind of thing I’ll get a request to fill out another application form. They don’t want to do it. On top of that, they don’t know anything about kids. You do.”

“I don’t know anything about homicide.”

“Forget homicide. That’s my problem. Talk to a seven-year-old.”

I hesitated. He held out his hands. The palms were white, well-scrubbed.

“Hey, I’m not expecting a total freebie. I’ll buy you lunch. There’s a fair-to-middling Italian place with surprisingly good gnocchi not far from the . . .”

“Not far from the abattoir?” I grimaced. “No thanks. Anyway, I can’t be bought for noodles.”

“So what can I offer you by way of a bribe—you’ve got everything—the house in the hills, the fancy car, the Ralph Lauren gear with jogging shoes to match. Christ, you’ve got retirement at thirty-three and a goddamn perpetual tan. Just talking about it is getting me pissed.”

“Yes, but am I happy?”

“I suspect so.”

“You’re right.” I thought of the grisly photos. “And I’m certainly not in need of a free pass to the Grand Guignol.”

“You know,” he said, “I’ll bet underneath all of that mellow is a bored young man.”


“Crap nothing. How long has it been, six months?”

“Five and a half.”

“Five and a half, then. When I met you—correct that, soon after I met you, you were a vibrant guy, high energy, lots of opinions. Your mind was working. Now all I hear about is hot tubs, how fast you run your goddamned mile, the different kinds of sunset you can see from your deck—to use your jargon, it’s regression. Cutesy-poo short pants, roller-skating, water play. Like half the people in this city, you’re functioning on a six-year-old level.”

I laughed.

“And you’re making me this offer—to get involved in blood and crud—as a form of occupational therapy.”

“Alex, you can break your ass trying to achieve Nirvana Through Inertia, but it won’t work. It’s like that Woody Allen line—you mellow too much, you ripen and rot.”

I slapped my bare chest.

“No signs of decay yet.”

“It’s internal, comes from within, breaks through when you’re least expecting it.”

“Thank you, Doctor Sturgis.”

He gave me a disgusted look, went into the kitchen and returned with his mouth buried in a pear.


“You’re welcome.”

“All right, Alex, forget it. I’ve got this dead psychiatrist and this Gutierrez girl hacked up. I’ve got a seven-year-old who thinks she might have seen or heard something except she’s too damned scared to make any sense of it. I ask you for two hours of your time—and time is one thing you’ve got plenty of—and I get bullshit.”

“Hold on. I didn’t say I wouldn’t do it. You have to give me time to assimilate this. I just woke up and you barge in and drop double homicide on me.”

He shot his wrist out from under his shirt cuff and peered at his Timex. “Ten thirty-seven. Poor baby.” He glared at me and chomped into the pear, getting juice on his chin.

“Anyway, you might recall that the last time I had anything to do with police business it was traumatic.”

“Hickle was a fluke. And you were a victim—of sorts. I’m not interested in getting you involved in this. Just an hour or two talking to a little kid. Like I said, some hypnosis if it looks right. Then we eat gnocchi. I return to my place and try to reclaim my amour, you’re free to go back to Spaceout Castle here. Finis. In a week we get together for a pure social time—a little sashimi down in Japtown. Okay?”

“What did the kid actually see?” I asked and watched my relaxing day fly out the window.

“Shadows, voices, two guys, maybe three. But who really knows? She’s a little kid, she’s totally traumatized. The mother’s just as scared and she impresses me as a lady who was no nuclear physicist in the first place. I didn’t know how to approach her, Alex. I tried to be nice, go easy. It would have been helpful to have a juvie officer there, but there aren’t too many of those any more. The department would rather keep three dozen pencil-pushing deputy chiefs around.”

He gnawed the pear down to the core.

“Shadows, voices. That’s it. You’re the language specialist, right? You know how to communicate with the little ones. If you can get her to open up, great. If she comes forth with anything resembling an I.D., fantastic. If not, them’s the breaks and at least we tried.”

Language specialist. It had been a while since I’d used the phrase—back in the aftermath of the Hickle affair, when I’d found myself suddenly spinning out of control, the faces of Stuart Hickle and all the kids he’d harmed marching through my head. Milo had taken me drinking. At about two in the morning he had wondered out loud why the kids had let it go on for so long.

“They didn’t talk because nobody knew how to listen,” I’d said. “They thought it was their fault, anyway.”

“Yeah?” He looked up, bleary-eyed, gripping his stein with both hands. “I hear stuff like that from the juvie gals.”

“That’s the way they think when they’re little, egocentric. Like they’re the center of the world. Mommy slips, breaks a leg, they blame themselves.”

“How long does it last?”

“In some people it never goes away. For the rest of us it’s a gradual process. By eight or nine we see things more clearly—but at any age an adult can manipulate kids, convince them it’s their fault.”

“Assholes,” muttered Milo. “So how do you get their heads straight?”

“You have to know how kids think at different ages. Developmental stages. You talk their language—you become a language specialist.”

“That’s what you do?”

“That’s what I do.”

A few minutes later he asked: “You think guilt is bad?”

“Not necessarily. It’s part of what holds us together. Too much, though, can cripple.”

He nodded. “Yeah, I like that. Shrinks always seem to be saying guilt is a no-no. Your approach I can buy. I tell you, we could use a lot more guilt—the world’s full of fucked-up savages.”

At that moment he got no argument from me.

We talked a bit more. The alcohol tugged at our consciousness and we started to laugh, then cry. The bartender stopped polishing his glasses and stared.

It had been a low—a seriously low—period in my life and I remembered who’d been there to help me through it.

I watched Milo nibble at the last specks of pear with curiously small, sharp teeth.

“Two hours?” I asked.

“At the most.”

“Give me an hour or so to get ready, clear up some business.”

Having convinced me to help him didn’t seem to cheer him up. He nodded and exhaled wearily.

“All right. I’ll give a run down to the station and do my business.” Another consultation of the Timex. “Noon?”


He walked to the door, opened it, stepped out on the balcony and tossed the pear core over the railing and into the greenery below. Starting down the stairs he stopped mid-landing and looked up at me. The sun’s glare hit his ravaged face and turned it into a pale mask. For a moment I was afraid he was going to get sentimental.

I needn’t have worried.

“Listen, Alex, as long as you’re staying here can I borrow the Caddy? That,” he pointed accusingly at the ancient Fiat, “is giving out. Now it’s the starter.”

“Bull, you just love my car.” I went into the house, got the spare keys and threw them at him.

He fielded them like Dusty Baker, unlocked the Seville and squirmed in, adjusting the seat to accommodate his long legs. The engine started immediately, purring with vigor. Looking like a sixteen-year-old going to his first prom in Daddy’s wheels, he cruised down the hill.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 96 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 97 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excited to read the rest of this series.

    This book starts out a little slow, but only because it gives some background information on the main character so that you can understand him a little better. Then it jumps right into a great story with an interesting ending. It was a little hard to follow towards the end because of the different characters involved, but it comes together nicely.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 11, 2012

    It tells the beginning ...

    I have always enjoyed Jonathan Kellerman's books featureing Alex Delaware. I recently decided to read all the older stories, from Book #1 on. This is the book that actually introduces us to Alex and Milo. I especially enjoyed this book and will read the second and third books in the series soon.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted April 18, 2004

    Great Book by a Great Author!

    If you have never read a book by Jonathan Kellerman, this is a great place to start. His characters, Alex and Milo are superbly developed and really make you want to root for them in their discovery of some devastating facts that lead to an even more devestating discovery. Pick up this book today, I couldn't put it down!!!

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    Good book. Well written. Some dark topics.

    Good book that is great especially if you like to read from a psychologist's perspective. Love the way the mystery unfolds in the end. Some dark content that I don't like reading about: child abuse, rape, etc. Some readers might not be bothered by it as the author didn't go into great detail. I would consider reading more of his books as he is a good writer and I love psychology.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012


    The story line is interesting and the characters are fairly well developed. But when Alex goes off on his own investigation, Mr. Kellerman begins to make his story sound a lot less logical. The end of the story, in particular, is quite unbelievable, and happens so quickly as to make one think Mr. Kellerman had a word limit! This is the only novel of Mr. Kellerman's I've read and I enjoyed most of it. Considering it was his 1st to write, and expecting improvement, I'll be reading another!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great first book to get you addicted to Alex Delaware.

    This is a great first book to get you addicted to Alex Delaware. There is a lot of explaining, who Alex Delaware is, what made him what he is, but it isn't done in a boring way, but it is detailed. But it is well worth it...the books are GREAT. These are books that i eagerly look forward to.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    When the Bough Breaks

    Dr. Alex Delaware is a child psychologist who has seen enough violence and evil done to children to burn him out and break him down at the age of thirty-three. Now retired, he has plenty of money to live on while he ponders the question of what to do with his life. That is until his friend, a police detective, Milo Sturgis asks him for help on his latest case.
    Alex's interest is piqued by the case, but doesn't plan to get overly involved, just help out. Then he met Melody Quinn, the seven-year-old, lone witness to the double murder. She and her mother live in the same apartment building as the psychiatrist and his girlfriend that were murdered and she is the only one that can help with this case now as Milo has no other leads.
    As he gets Melody to trust him and open up, Alex realizes there is more to this case than just a double murder. He digs deeper and deeper until he opens the door to secrets that several 'well to do' people would rather keep closed.and would do anything to keep it that way.
    Intense, traumatic, and suspenseful, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat.

    Reviewed by Ashley Wintters for Suspense Magazine

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

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    Alex Delaware & Milo Sturgis first brake out of their fabulous series.

    I really enjoyed this story. It was great to see how Alex and Milo start off from their basic crime solving tactics. I admit that I didn't start reading the series from order but it was still excellent. Like the rest of the stories. Alex & Milo never lose their wits nor my interest.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    First in a long series

    I love Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus series, and I'm hoping to love Jonathan's Alex Delaware as well. This first book was not as compelling as I hoped, but I'll continue on for at least a few books hoping they don't disappoint. I've even branching out to the books their children are writing. What a prolific literary family!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 14, 2010

    If this book is what it takes to win an Edgar for Best First Mystery and to kick-start what is now a 25 book sereis, what does that say about us, the readers?

    For a book that says almost nothing about anything, it is decently written. The little it does say about anything is to keep your hyperactive kids off prescribed drugs unless absolutely necessary. Other than that, which I already knew, I would have been better off spending my time doing almost anything else.

    Our new Post-Modern Detective, a burnt out ex-karate enthusiast with a 2-hour refresher in which he gets the cr-- kicked out of him by an old instructor, escapes death, not once, not twice, not three times, but four times, five, if one counts his being rescued just in the nick of time.

    First, our hero is attacked by the biggest dog this side of King Kong. Our hero dives for a pitchfork and saves himself intact albeit for a bite of his arm, described as not really bad, but severe enough to render it almost useless in a fight, into which, of course, our hero soon gets himself.

    That's ONE!

    The killer, an already successful one, puts a gun to our hero's head, and our hero escapes, in what I suppose is meant to be an exciting car-motorcycle chase. The bad guy dies. Well, of course. Our hero is so well trained at this stuff.

    That's TWO!

    Then, our hero with the bad arm fights someone substantially bigger and at least somewhat trained. The author tells us, "He was strong and skilled." But, of course, our well-trained hero wins that battle as well, bad arm and all.

    That's THREE!

    Then, a real bad guy-killer has a gun on him. He gets away from that one as well.

    That's FOUR!

    But, our hero doesn't quite get away from number four. The bad guy is huge, gets to our hero and begins choking him to death. No way our hero can get away. But, wait! The author arrives with the cavalry just in the nick of time.

    Maybe, that's not really number FIVE since our hero was saved from a certain death by another person, but it's close enough.

    We readers can console ourselves with the knowledge that the hero is a man of principle, at least that's what the author keeps telling us.

    But, the hero's buddy, a homicide detective, admits in the last pages that he has murdered in cold blood one of the villains. He has done so because he believed the murderer was a man of power, wealth and influence and would get away with his horrid crimes only to commit them again.

    When our hero, our man of principle, hears the cop's confession, he says "Okay."


    Though I don't remember anything about having read this book when it was first published 25 years ago, I am sure that I did since I do remember having read 2 or 3 of the earlier Alex Delaware books, and it is my nature to start at the beginning. But this re-beginning is surely the end.

    This book's low quality has finally driven me back to my own, too long neglected novel. I assure you, my 'hero," if there is one, won't beat up or otherwise get physical with the bad guys or the big dogs. He oe she will just be a more normal human being.

    1 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

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    This book was decent. There is almost a little too much going on at one time, so can be hard to follow. I would reccomend this book though. It is very thrilling, and worth your time and/or money.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Great First book by Kellerman

    The first book in the series that builds information as you go along. Alex is asked to provide assistance in solving the crimes, which seem to be interconnected. Milo uses Alex to get information about those that are suspect in their truth telling.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2004

    Not Bad for a First Attempt

    After 'Over the Edge', this is the second book by Mr Kellerman that I have just read. Not bad for a first try, though it also shows the author was still rather immature in his plot-creating skills. At times it felt like reading a strange medley of pulpfiction thriller plus the story of a medieval detective mixed with the straightforward confessions of a top lover who never ever disappoints a gal in bed and has the most immaculate woman in the world for a partner. On top of this all, put Milo and a required knowledge of psychopharmacology. Nonetheless, one has to be lenient in their opinion when reviewing a first book . . .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2015

    more from this reviewer


    Jonathan Kellerman is a good enough writer to keep the suspense going to the end. I like that he writes with authority as a child psychologist as well. I found the book, as well as another one of his, "Killer", not animal friendly therefore anyone who is sensitive to animals as am I will not find his books of interest. That is why I will no longer read his books. Other than not being animal friendly Kellerman writes a very good mystery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Waste of time for me

    Not impressed. Should have been 100 pages not 300+

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Dr. Delaware is great!

    I really like the Jonathan Kellerman series with protagonist Dr. Delaware. There is lots of psychological insight into people. I have started at the beginning with this book, series #1, and plan to read all books in chronological order.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2013

    A great mystery.

    Jonathan Kellerman is an author I just recently found. I am now an avid reader of his other Alex Delaware mysteries. I highly recommend these books for anyone who likes a good mystery you have a hard time putting down.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Great start to the series.

    I liked the part where Milo was scolding Alex for not locking his door.

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  • Posted March 29, 2013

    Nice Read

    It has a decent storyline and original characters. Didn't expect a couple of the turns it made. Nice book to sit down and read over a weekend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2013

    Publish dates


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