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1 Beaverton Mystery- A to Z

Therapy: An Alex Delaware Novel

by

Therapy: An Alex Delaware Novel Cover

 

 

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

A few years ago a psychopath burned down my house.

The night it happened, I was out to dinner with the woman whod designed the house and lived in it with me. We were driving up Beverly Glen when the sirens cut through the darkness, ululating, like coyote death wails.

The noise died quickly, indicating a nearby disaster, but there was no reason to assume the worst. Unless youre the worst kind of fatalist, you think: “Something lousy happened to some poor devil.”

That night, I learned different.

Since then, the Klaxon of an ambulance or a fire truck in my neighborhood sets off something inside me—a crimp of shoulder, a catch of breath, an arrhythmic flutter of the plum-colored thing in my chest.

Pavlov was right.

Im trained as a clinical psychologist, could do something about it but have chosen not to. Sometimes anxiety makes me feel alive.

When the sirens shrieked, Milo and I were having dinner at an Italian place at the top of the Glen. It was ten-thirty on a cool June night. The restaurant closes at eleven, but we were the last patrons, and the waiter was looking tired. The woman I was now seeing was teaching a night course in abnormal psychology at the U., and Milos partner, Rick Silverman, was busy at the Cedars-Sinai ER trying to salvage the five most seriously injured victims of a ten-car pileup on the Santa Monica Freeway.

Milo had just closed the file on a robbery-turned-to-multiple- homicide at a liquor store on Pico Boulevard. The solve had taken more persistence than brainwork. He was in a position to pick his cases, and no new ones had crossed his desk.

Id finally finished testifying at the seemingly endless child-custody hearings waged by a famous director and his famous actress wife. Id begun the consult with some optimism. The director had once been an actor, and both he and his ex knew how to perform. Now, three years later, two kids whod started out in pretty good shape were basket cases living in France.

Milo and I chewed our way through focaccia and baby artichoke salad, orrechiati stuffed with spinach, veal pounded to paper. Neither of us felt like talking. A bottle of decent white wine smoothed the silence. Both of us were strangely content; life wasnt fair, but wed done our jobs well.

When sirens came, I kept my eyes on my plate. Milo stopped eating. The napkin hed tucked in his shirt collar was spotted with spinach and olive oil.

“Dont worry,” he said. “Not a fire.”

“Whos worrying?”

He pushed hair off his forehead, picked up his fork and knife, speared, chewed, swallowed.

I said, “How can you tell?”

“That its not a big-red? Trust me, Alex. Its a black-and-white. I know the frequency.”

A second cruiser wailed by. Then a third.

He pulled his tiny blue cell phone out of his pocket and punched a button. A preset number rang.

I raised my eyebrows.

“Just curious,” he said. His connection went through, and he told the phone, “This is Lieutenant Sturgis. What call just went out in the vicinity of upper Beverly Glen? Yeah, near Mulholland.” He waited, green eyes dimmed to near brown in the miserly light of the restaurant. Under the spotted napkin was a baby blue polo shirt that really didnt work well with his pallid complexion. His acne pits were flagrant, his jowls gravid as freshly filled wineskins. Long white sideburns frizzed his big face, a pair of skunkish stripes that seemed to sprout artificially from his black hair. Hes a gay policeman and my best friend.

“That so,” he said. “Any detective assigned, yet? Okay, listen, I happen to be right near there, can make it over in ten—no make that fifteen—make it twenty minutes. Yeah, yeah, sure.”

He snapped the little phone shut. “Double homicide, two bodies in a car. Being this close, I figured I should have a look. The crime scenes still being secured, and the techs havent gotten there, so we can still have dessert. How are you with cannoli?”

We split the check, and he offered to drive me home, but neither of us took that seriously.

“In that case,” he said, “well take the Seville.”

I drove quickly. The crime scene was on the west side of the intersection between the Glen and Mulholland, up a skinny, decomposed, granite road marked private that climbed through sycamore-crowned hillside.

A police cruiser was stationed at the mouth of the road. Staked to a tree several feet up was a for sale sign bearing the logo of a Westside Realtor. Milo flashed the badge to the uniform in the car, and we drove through.

At the top of the road was a house behind high, night-blackened hedges. Two more black-and-whites kept us ten yards back. We parked and continued on foot. The sky was purplish, the air still bitter with the smolder of two early-summer brush fires, one up near Camarillo, the other past Tujunga. Both had just been vanquished. One had been set by a fireman.

Behind the hedges was stout wooden fencing. Double gates had been left open. The bodies slumped in a red Mustang convertible parked on a semicircular flagstone driveway. The house behind the drive was a vacant mansion, a big neo-Spanish thing that was probably cheerful peach in the daylight. At this hour, it was putty gray.

The driveway bordered a half acre of front yard, shaded by more sycamores—giant ones. The house looked newish and was ruined by too many weird-shaped windows, but someone had been smart enough to spare the trees.

The top was down on the little red car. I stood back and watched as Milo approached, careful to stay behind the tape. He did nothing but stare. Moments later, a pair of crime-scene techs walked onto the property lugging cases on a dolly. They talked to him briefly, then slipped under the tape.

He walked back to the Seville. “Looks like gunshot wounds to both heads, a guy and a girl, young. Hes in the drivers seat, shes next to him. His flys open, and his shirts half-unbuttoned. Her shirts clean off, tossed in the backseat along with her bra. Under the shirt she wore black leggings. Theyre rolled down to her ankles, and her legs are spread.”

“Lovers lane thing?” I said.

“Empty house,” he said. “Good neighborhood. Probably a nice view from the backyard. Seize the night and all that? Sure.”

“If they knew about the house, they could be locals.”

“He looked clean-cut, well dressed. Yeah, Id say local is also a decent bet.”

“I wonder why the gate was left open.”

“Or maybe it wasnt, and one of them has some connection to the house and a gate-clicker. For all we know, one of their families built the place. Crime Scene will do their thing, hopefully theyll find IDs in the pockets. The cars plates are being run right now.”

I said, “Any gun in sight?”

“A murder-suicide thing? Not likely.”

He rubbed his face. His hand lingered at his mouth, tugged down his lower lip and let it snap back up.

“What?” I said.

“Two head-shots plus, Alex. Someone jammed what looks to be a short spear or a crossbow bolt into the girls torso. Here.” He touched a spot under his breastbone. “From what I could see the damn thing went clear through her and is lodged in the seat. The impact jolted her body, shes lying funny.”

“A spear.”

“She was skewered, Alex. A bullet to the brain wasnt enough.”

“Overkill,” I said. “A message. Were they actually making love or were they positioned sexually?”

He flashed a frightening smile. “Now were veering into your territory.”

Product Details

ISBN:
9780345452603
Author:
Kellerman, Jonathan
Publisher:
Ballantine Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
Police
Subject:
College students
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
Thrillers
Subject:
Los angeles (calif.)
Subject:
Mystery fiction
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Popular Fiction-Suspense
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Mass market paperback
Series:
Alex Delaware Novels
Publication Date:
March 29, 2005
Binding:
MASS MARKET
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
6.88x4.26x1.09 in. .53 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Contemporary Thrillers
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

Therapy: An Alex Delaware Novel Used Mass Market
0 stars - 0 reviews
$3.95 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Ballantine Books - English 9780345452603 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Therapy, Jonathan Kellerman's fine entertainment, is a modern, Los Angeles, post-9/11 tale, but it's still Agatha Christie at heart — and that's the great thing. Its heroes are Alex Delaware, the sleuthing psychologist, and Milo Sturgis, the butch gay cop; there are no crazy chases here, and no stock characters either. There is only noir for 2004, which so far is rather a noir year." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review" by , "This one's more methodical than suspenseful and the final shoot-out and revelations feel tacked on, but fans won't mind as Alex and Milo eventually wrap everything up nicely, and Kellerman provides intriguing details of Alex's new love interest."
"Review" by , "Kellerman shrewdly manages to bring everything together by the end; there's even a nifty surprise. And, of course, it's all neatly delivered in Delaware's urbane yet casual voice. Thumbs up yet again for the ever-popular Kellerman."
"Review" by , "Mr. Kellerman's Therapy is...thick with coincidence....Mr. Kellerman packs in the descriptive detail that is one of his hallmarks and one of the incidental attractions in his fiction."
"Review" by , "Kellerman is in familiar territory, masterfully mixing the worlds of crime and psychology in a whodunit that's as much about the why as the who....The dialogue is snappy, descriptions are crisp and the characters and relationships ring true."
"Review" by , "[Kellerman's] craftsmanship — excellent almost from the beginning — gets better and better....If he is not yet on your 'must read' list, Therapy will be the work that will carve his name in stone. Highly recommended."
"Synopsis" by , Psychologist Alex Delaware's investigation into a sadistic double slaying leads to a corrupt multimillion dollar scheme made up of equal parts madness and menace.
"Synopsis" by , Jonathan Kellerman has made the psychological thriller his own gripping province with his bestselling series of Alex Delaware novels. Now, Delawares new adventure leads the sleuthing psychologist on a harrowing exploration into the realm he knows best: the human psyche, in all its complexity, mystery, and terrifying propensity for darkness.

“Been a while since I had me a nice little whodunit,” homicide detective Milo Sturgis tells Alex Delaware. But theres definitely nothing nice about the brutal tableau behind the yellow crime-scene tape. On a lonely lovers lane in the hills of Los Angeles, a young couple lies murdered in a car. Each bears a single gunshot wound to the head. The female victim has also been impaled by a metal spike. And that savage stroke of psychopathic fury tells Milo this case will call for more than standard police procedure. As he explains to Delaware, “Now were veering into your territory.”

It is dark territory, indeed. The dead woman remains unidentified and seemingly unknown to everyone. But her companion has a name: Gavin Quick—and his troubled past eventually landed him on a therapists couch. Its there, on familiar turf, that Delaware hopes to find vital clues. And that means going head-to-head with Dr. Mary Lou Koppel, a popular celebrity psychologist who fiercely guards the privacy of her clients . . . dead or alive.

But when theres another gruesomely familiar murder, Delaware surmises that his investigation has struck a nerve. As he trolls the twisted wreckage of Quicks tormented last days, what he finds isnt madness, but the cold-blooded method behind it. And as he follows a chain of greed, corruption, and betrayal snaking hideously through the profession he thought he knew, hell discover territory where even he never dreamed of treading.

As provocative as it is suspenseful, Therapy is premier Kellerman that finds the award-winning author firing on all creative cylinders—and carrying readers on an electrifying ride to a place only he can take them, for an experience they wont soon forget.

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