Dr. Death (Alex Delaware Series #14)

Dr. Death (Alex Delaware Series #14)

by Jonathan Kellerman

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Who killed the killer? In this brilliant and startling psychological thriller, Jonathan Kellerman, perennial bestselling author, gives a sharp and timely twist to homicide's central question.

Someone has murdered euthanasia champion Dr. Eldon Mate—a self-styled Dr. Death responsible for scores of assisted suicides. In a burst of bloody irony, the killer chooses to dispatch the doctor in the back of Mate's own suicide van, hooking him up to the killing apparatus dubbed "the Humanitron"—and adding some butchering touches of his own. The case is assigned to veteran LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis, who turns, once again, to his friend Dr. Alex Delaware. But working this case raises a conflict of interest for Alex so profound that he can't even discuss it with Milo. The tension that develops between cop and psychologist further complicates an already baffling and complex murder investigation—one whose suspects include the families of Dr. Mate's "travelers," Mate's own son, and a psychopathic killer who relishes the geometry of death.

Dr. Death is a rich brew of unforgettable characters, labyrinthine plotting, page-turning prose, and the unique insights into the darkest corners of the human mind that have earned Jonathan Kellerman international accolades as the master of psychological suspense.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345508522
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/20/2008
Series: Alex Delaware Series , #14
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 473
Sales rank: 125,050
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Kellerman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than three dozen bestselling crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher’s Theater, Billy Straight, The Conspiracy Club, Twisted, and True Detectives. With his wife, bestselling novelist Faye Kellerman, he co-authored Double Homicide and Capital Crimes. With his son, bestselling novelist Jesse Kellerman, he co-authored the first book of a new series, The Golem of Hollywood. He is also the author of two children’s books and numerous nonfiction works, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children and 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.


Beverly Hills, California

Date of Birth:

August 9, 1949

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A. in psychology, University of California-Los Angeles; Ph.D., University of Southern California, 1974

Read an Excerpt

Irony can be a rich dessert, so when the contents of the van were publicized, some people gorged. The ones who'd believed Eldon H. Mate to be the Angel of Death.

Those who'd considered him Mercy Personified grieved.

I viewed it through a different lens, had my own worries.

Mate was murdered in the very early hours of a sour-smelling, fog-laden
Monday in September. No earthquakes or wars interceded by sundown, so the death merited a lead story on the evening news. Newspaper headlines in the
Times and the Daily News followed on Tuesday. TV dropped the story within twenty-four hours, but recaps ran in the Wednesday papers. In total, four days of coverage, the maximum in short-attention-span L.A. unless the corpse is that of a princess or the killer can afford lawyers who yearn for Oscars.

No easy solve on this one; no breaks of any kind. Milo had been doing his job long enough not to expect otherwise.

He'd had an easy summer, catching a quartet of lovingly stupid homicides during July and August—one domestic violence taken to the horrible extreme and three brain-dead drunks shooting other inebriates in squalid Westside bars. Four murderers hanging around long enough to be caught. It kept his solve rate high, made it a bit—but not much—easier to be the only openly gay detective in LAPD.

"Knew I was due," he said. It was the Sunday after the murder when he phoned me at the house. Mate's corpse had been cold for six days and the press had moved on.

That suited Milo just fine. Like any artist, he craved solitude. He'd played his part by not giving the press anything to work with. Orders from the brass. One thing he and the brass could agree on: reporters were almost always the enemy.

What the papers HAD printed was squeezed out of clip-file biographies, the inevitable ethical debates, old photos, old quotes. Beyond the fact that
Mate had been hooked up to his own killing machine, only the sketchiest details had been released:

Van parked on a remote section of Mulholland Drive, discovery by hikers just after dawn.


I knew more because Milo told me.

The call came in at 8 P.M., just as Robin and I had finished dinner. I was out the door, holding on to the straining leash of Spike, our little French bulldog. Pooch and I both looking forward to a night walk up the glen. Spike loved the dark because pointing at scurrying sounds let him pretend he was a noble hunter. I enjoyed getting out because I worked with people all day and solitude was always welcome.

Robin answered the phone, caught me in time, ended up doing dog-duty as I
returned to my study.

"Mate's yours?" I said, surprised because he hadn't told me sooner. Suddenly edgy because that added a whole new layer of complexity to my week.

"Who else merits such blessing?"

I laughed softly, feeling my shoulders humping, rings of tension around my neck. The moment I'd heard about Mate I'd worried. Deliberated for a long time, finally made a call that hadn't been returned. I'd dropped the issue because there'd been no good reason not to. It really WASN'T any of my business. Now, with Milo involved, all that had changed.

I kept the worries to myself. His call had nothing to do with my problem.
Coincidence—one of those nasty little overlaps. Or maybe there really are only a hundred people in the world.

His reason for getting in touch was simple: the dreaded W word: whodunit. A
case with enough psychopathology to make me potentially useful.

Also I was his friend, one of the few people left in whom he could confide.

The psychopathology part was fine with me. What bothered me was the friendship component. Things I knew but didn't tell him. COULDN'T tell him.

Table of Contents

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Dr. Death (Alex Delaware Series #14) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was once a die-hard Kellerman fan, and my interest started waning with 'Monster' but I figured I'd give him another chance. In 'Dr. Death', Kellerman's writing style has changed, and not for the better, with corny analogies throughout and none of the comfortable prose that made his earlier books so great. The story itself had potential, but got lost in too many characters which seem to have been drawn in because Kellerman himself lost interest in his own story. I will probably give him one more shot with the next book, and I hope he regains some of what made his earlier stuff worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading last year's 'Monster', I was surprisingly disappointed with my favorite author. However, 'Dr. Death' is the usual page-turner with richly developed characters and suspense to the end. This time around, Alex works more closely with Milo on the case. Their dialogue and interaction are as enjoyable as trying to figure out the killer's identity. Just wish Robin wasn't so one dimensional - again, she remains in the background with minimal dialogue. My only complaint is I have to wait another year for Alex Delaware's next adventure.
CynDaVaz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the better Alex Delaware books I've listened to in a *long* time. I think my favorite one so far had been the second one - the others that followed were mediocre ... until this one. John Rubinstein did an excellent job narrating this book. Well done, Mr. Kellerman.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Good psychological angle and good detective angle. Again a little curious about how prevalent serial killers really are. The mercy killing theme fairly well handled, but maybe a little biased against it. Some gratuitous moral philosophy--too absolutist.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The author has a wonderful imagination for crime and punishment, and his characters just seem to come to life. The descriptive personality of this book brings out the pure morbidity of the crime at hand for Dr. Alex Delaware and Det. Milo Sturgis to solve, and in the process they get to know the infamous Dr. Death and his assailant. Walk along with them as they catch the killer of a suicide doctor.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dr. Eldon Mate, also known as 'Dr. Death', is not a very popular guy. With his 'humanitron', he assists those who wish to die achieve their goals in a 'humane and dignified manner'...even if sometimes he leaves the bodies in cheap hotel rooms for someone else to deal with. Most would consider it a very good day when Mate's body is found brutally butchered inside his own van, hooked up to the 'humanitron'. It is far too obvious to Detective Milo Sturgis and his long-time confidant, Dr. Alex Delaware, that Mate didn't die in the most humane way. Nor did he 'off himself' with his own machine. Their ensuing investigation leads them down many paths...chasing numerous suspects and trying to figure out just as many motives. As a long-time fan of Kellerman's 'Alex Delaware' series, this reader has analyzed the reasons 'Dr. Death', and Kellerman's previous novel, 'Monster', don't live up to Kellerman's obvious potential. Kellerman's earlier books were written about his particular field of expertise...child psychology. In those previous works, his passion shone through with precision and excitement, inherent in his deft portrayal of his characters and his plotlines. He gave Delaware a personal interest in the outcome of his patient's lives, and he took an active interest in the goings-on of the victims. In more recent novels, Kellerman has drifted away from his 'comfort zone' and into areas already deluged with mediocre stories...most of them better plotted, and passionate, at least. While 'Dr. Death' has its moments, with some well-spoken phrases and vivid scenes, his stories seem to lack any real emotion or depth. It's hard to justify his character's involvement in the crime investigations...even though Kellerman displays Delaware as a type of 'consultant' to the case. Delaware has no real reason for being there nor following through on his own hunches, etc. Where once passion was Kellerman's motivation, he's now just some guy sitting at his computer typing up stories. The message in 'Dr. Death' may be socially relevant to our times, but tends to become a bit preachy in spots. The child characters seem mere cardboard cut-outs, gratuitous and out of place. Kellerman disappoints with this latest story. It barely held my interest long enough to find out whodunit.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I never wanted was putting it down!!!! A super read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The one thing I hated about this book, was putting it down!!!! It had all the classic trademark 'Kellerman twists', that Monster was sorely lacking. I loved it!!!! This leaves me aching for another Alex Delaware adventure!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a little hesitant to read this book after Monster which was such a disappointment. However, in Dr. Death, Alex Delaware is back at his finest. I got this book as a Xmas present and couldn't put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great reading experience awaits you with this one. Action keeps you going, surprises abound and content has depth. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and put it with my other Kellerman books. Haven't been disappointed yet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Tony Award-winner John Rubinstein has read the audio book versions of each of Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels. 'Performed' might be a more appropriate word than 'read' as his deliveries are riveting. (Need we say that Kellerman, a master of the psychological thriller, writes can't-put-down tales?) There's a diabolical twist in this story as the man some have described as a killer is killed - Dr. Eldon Mate, a proponent of euthanasia, is murdered in the back of his own vehicle, attached to the mechanism he has used to assist others in ending their lives. Of course, the LAPD seeks assistance from Dr. Alex Delaware who has a few qualms of his own regarding the case. Rife with menacing characters and psychological detail, 'Dr. Death' is Kellerman at the peak of his authorial prowess. In the case of the audiobook Rubinstein's emotionally intense voice is frosting on this devil's food cake.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked thee part where Alex and Milo were pretending to be Scottish after they had argued.
Guest More than 1 year ago
great storyline, with many twists, one of his greatest books