The Museum of Desire (Alex Delaware Series #35)

The Museum of Desire (Alex Delaware Series #35)

by Jonathan Kellerman

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Psychologist Alex Delaware and detective Milo Sturgis struggle to make sense of a seemingly inexplicable massacre in this electrifying psychological thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense.

LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis has solved a lot of murder cases. On many of them—the ones he calls “different”—he taps the brain of brilliant psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware. But neither Alex nor Milo are prepared for what they find on an early morning call to a deserted mansion in Bel Air. This one’s beyond different. This is predation, premeditation, and cruelty on a whole new level.

Four people have been slaughtered and left displayed bizarrely and horrifically in a stretch limousine. Confounding the investigation, none of the victims seems to have any connection to any other, and a variety of methods have been used to dispatch them. As Alex and Milo make their way through blind alleys and mazes baited with misdirection, they encounter a crime so vicious that it stretches the definitions of evil.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780525618539
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Series: Alex Delaware Series , #35
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 58
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Jonathan Kellerman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than forty crime novels, including the Alex Delaware series, The Butcher's TheaterBilly StraightThe Conspiracy ClubTwistedTrue Detectives, and The Murderer's Daughter. 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 A Measure of DarknessCrime SceneThe Golem of Hollywood, and The Golem of Paris. 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 the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, and has been nominated for a Shamus Award. Jonathan and Faye Kellerman live in California and New Mexico.


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

When it comes to murder, nighttime’s the right time. So when Milo calls me, I often find myself driving to crime scenes on dark L.A. streets.

This time, the phone rang just after nine a.m. Lovely Sunday in May. Robin and I and Blanche, our little French bulldog, had taken a leisurely two-mile walk followed by a pancake breakfast.

Robin was washing, I was drying, Blanche’s sausage body was prone on the kitchen floor as she snored and let out periodic dream squeaks. My phone, on vibrate, bounced on the kitchen counter. Milo’s number on the screen.

I said, “What’s up, Big Guy?”

Detective II Moses Reed said, “Actually it’s me, Doc. He asked me to phone you.”

“Busy, huh?”

“We’re all busy. This is utterly horrible.”

Reed’s a terse young man; it takes a lot to get him using adverbs.

I sat down and listened as he explained, images tumbling into my brain. Robin turned from the sink, pretty eyebrows arching. I shook my head and mouthed Sorry, and said, “Where, Moe?”

“Private road called Ascot Lane, off Benedict Canyon. Easy to miss, kind of like your street, but this one’s more like a big driveway, only goes to one house.”

He sighed. “Half mile north of the Beverly Hills border.” But for a couple thousand feet, someone else’s problem. I said, “Give me half an hour.”

“Whenever you get here, Doc. No one’s leaving for a while.”

In the movies when detectives encounter terrible things they frequently banter and tell tasteless jokes. That may be because screenwriters or the people who pay them are emotionally shallow. Or the scribes haven’t taken the time to hang out with real detectives.

I’ve found that the men and women who work homicide tend to be thoughtful, analytic, and sensitive. Despite a certain gruffness, that certainly applies to Milo.

My best friend has closed over three hundred fifty murders and he’s never lost his empathy or his sense of outrage. Notifying families still rips at him. He eats too much, sleeps poorly, and often neglects himself while working two, three days in a row.

Once you stop caring, you’re useless.

Milo leads by example so the same approach is taken by the three younger D’s who work with him when he can pry them away from other assignments.

When he can’t, it’s just him. And sometimes me. Rules are often bent. Milo was a gay soldier when gay soldiers didn’t exist, a gay cop when LAPD was still raiding gay bars. Things have changed but he continues to disdain stupid regulations and often overlooks social niceties in a paramilitary organization that prizes conformity.

Murder solve rates have dropped but his rate remains the highest in the department so the brass looks the other way.

This morning the sense of anxious gloom I’ve seen so many times at murders—stiff posture, tight faces, sharp but defeated eyes—extended to the two halfback-sized uniformed officers blocking the entrance to Ascot Lane from Benedict Canyon.

They’d been given my personal info and the Seville’s tags but checked my I.D. anyway, before the bigger one said, “Go on in, Doctor,” in a defeated voice.

To get to them, I’d nosed past half a dozen journalists stationed on Benedict as they tried to rush the Seville before being shooed by another pair of cops.

Different emotional climate for members of the press: a heightened energy bordering on ebullience. Misfortune is the mother’s milk of journalism but with the exception of war correspondents, those who suckle the teats of tragedy are rarely forced to confront evil directly.

I’d kept the Seville’s windows open and as I climbed the road, a bee-swarm of words followed me.

“Who’s he?”

“Vintage Caddy?”

“Are you the owner?”

“Sir! Sir! Do you rent out your house for parties? How much do you get? In view of this, was it worth it? He the owner, Officers? Yes? No? Aw, c’mon, the public has a right to know—if he’s not the owner, how come he gets in?”

If I’d said anything it would’ve been, “I get in because it’s bad and strange.”

I drove through a wrought-iron gate propped open by two bricks and began to climb. Halfway up, another cop waved me on. The road ended at a flat acre or so of brown dirt crowded with vehicles. Four white coroner’s vans, a scarlet fire department ambulance, half a dozen patrol cars, two blue-and-white Scientific Division vans, a bronze Chevy Impala I knew to be Milo’s unmarked, two black Ford LTDs, and a gray Mustang. I wondered who’d scored the sports car.

Like a lot attendant at a county fair, a fourth uniform waved me to the far-right end of the dirt. When I got out, she said, “Walk around there, Dr. Delaware,” and tried to smile but failed.

I said, “Tough scene.”

“You have no idea.”

The path she’d designated took me along the right side of the massive house that fronted the expanse of soil. A semicircular drive of cracked brick girded the house. What you’d expect to see at a grand English manor, which was what this pile of faux-stone was striving to be.

Strange-looking place, thirty-plus feet high, graceless and blocky with a double-width entry fronted by curvaceous gold-painted iron over glass.

But for the lack of gardens and a pair of strange turret-like projections erupting from either end of the pretend-slate roof, one of those country homes featured on genteel PBS dramas. The kind of place where plummy-voiced tweedy people gather to natter, get soused on mah-tinis, and labor to make their way through all seven deadly sins.

Long walk to the back. At the end of my trek, I reached crime scene tape stretched across the drive. No one guarding the tape. I ducked under.

Given the dimensions of the frontage and the house, the rear of the property was surprisingly skimpy, much of it taken up by an empty Olympic-sized pool and a massive domed pavilion set up with cheap-looking outdoor furniture. At the far end, a wall of pines constricted the space further.

Another uniformed duo saw me and approached. Recheck of my I.D.

“Past the pool, Doctor.”

Needless direction; on the far-left side of the property was a crime scene tent big enough for a circus.

I headed for the main event.

The tent’s floodlit interior smelled of people. Lots of them, suited and gloved and masked, worked silently but for the rasp and clop of equipment cases being opened and shut and the snick-snick of cameras.

Everyone knowing their role, like a colony of ants swarming a giant larva.

The object of all the attention was as white and fat as a larva. A stretch Lincoln Town Car, its blunt snout pointed toward the house. Oversized red-wall tires, chrome reversed hubcaps, a strip of LED lighting running just under the roofline.

Party wagon.

The doors I could see were wide open but the interior was blocked by squatting techs.

Four heads rose above the roof on the other side of the car.

To the far right was Moe Reed, ruddy, baby-faced, blond, unreasonably muscled. Next to him stood a taller, freckled young man with a red spiky do: Sean Binchy. Leftmost was a handsome, ponytailed woman of forty with knife-edged features and piercing dark eyes aimed at the forensics symphony. Alicia Bogomil had tinted the ends of her hair platinum blond. Feeling secure in her new position as Detective I.

To the left of the three was the tallest man.

Bulky, slope-shouldered, full-faced and jowly, with pallid skin ravaged by youthful acne, a high-bridged nose, and a curiously sensitive mouth that tended to purse. His hair was coal black except where white had seeped from temple to sideburn. What Lieutenant Milo Bernard Sturgis calls his skunk stripes.

He saw me and walked around the limo. Brown suit, brown shirt, limp black tie, gray desert boots. The only splash of color, conspicuously green eyes brighter than the morning.

We go way back but this wasn’t the time and place for a handshake. I said, “Hey.”

He said, “Big production, huh? First responders got here at six twenty-seven, fourteen minutes after the 911 call. Place is vacant, used as a party house, most recent party was a rave-type deal that started eleven p.m. Friday night and stretched to Saturday around three. The cleaning service didn’t send a guy until this morning and that’s who found it. He says he phoned it in right away. After throwing up. He’s in the FD van, getting looked at. Said his chest and tummy hurt. Addict with a long sheet, so who knows what’s going on.”

“He interests you?”

“Not as the main offender but I wanna have a chat with him once he’s cleared by the EMTs.”

I said, “Criminals clean up rich people’s houses.”

“Apparently. This prince calls himself Eno, full name’s Enos Verdell Walters. For the most part, his pedigree’s not violent. Weed, meth, crack, and all the crap that finances weed, meth, and crack: shoplifting, theft, forgery, fraud. But there was a knife ADW a while back, he cut some guy up pretty viciously.”

“You researched him right away.”

“Nothing else to do while the science majors do their thing.”

Customer Reviews

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The Museum of Desire (B&N Exclusive Edition) (Alex Delaware Series #35) 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Boysie 17 days ago
This is the Kellerman I remember- great characters and smooth storytelling.
Johanna Grant 19 days ago
Thoughly enjoyed this book (have read the entire series, so I'm definitely a Kellerman fan). What I appreciate most is his "word craft"; he brings the characters and setting to life with just the right amount of detail. A good part of this story is built on previous relationships, which makes it all the more enjoyable for a series fan, but will lose depth of context for new readers. Start with book #1 if you can.
Shaun Sowle 21 days ago
Really enjoyed Kellerman's latest Alex/Milo mystery. Hard to put down and read it in a couple of days. Typical of his books which I enjoy.
Lisa Ridenour 15 days ago
much beloved Alex & Milo...solid story as always
Lester McConville 17 days ago
Another hit in the Delaware series!
diane92345 22 days ago
The Museum of Desire is the 35th entry in the Alex Delaware series. It is an excellent thriller that is highly recommended! It’s just after 6 a.m. on a Sunday, when ex-con Eno is walking up a long driveway to a mansion above Benedict Canyon. Eno cleans houses for a minimal living. But he is daydreaming of advancing his career with some holdups as soon as he can get a hoodie and a gun. The mansion is a party house and he dreads the red plastic cups and used condoms he expects to find there. Then he sees the stretch limo parked in the backyard. Thinking to find someone inside sleeping it off, he knocks. When there is no answer, he opens the driver door. He finds the chauffeur dead and covered in blood from the waist down. Gagging, he slams the door and opens the rear door. Three more bodies await him also awash in blood. He slams that door and promptly loses his breakfast on the ground. Time for even cop-shy Eno to call 911. Lieutenant Milo Sturgis, a LAPD lead detective, is called to the scene. He, in turn, calls his friend and colleague, Dr. Alex Delaware. Alex, a clinical psychologist who frequently helps the LAPD, says the scene appears staged. Together, they investigate the seemingly unrelated victims’ background. All were last seen on Friday but were killed late Saturday. Where were they for the missing hours? How were the victims selected? What does the posed scenario represent? And who did the crime? Alex and Milo investigate in the Museum of Desire. I confess I have read all the books in the Alex Delaware series and loved most of them. At this point Milo and Alex feel like family members that I am eager to catch up with on the single annual holiday dinner. However, enough backstory is included in this book—but not too much—that it can easily be read as a standalone. Compared to other books in the series, and most thrillers I have read recently, the murder and especially the motive is both darkly perverted and very unique. I adore that the book explains the underlying psychology of both the victims and the suspects. Unraveling the mystery was challenging too. Overall, the Museum of Desire is an original and engrossing peak into a usually hidden world. It’s also one of the best in the series so far. 5 stars and another of my favorites this year! Thanks to Ballantine Books, Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
Sydney Kuzma 16 hours ago
Not his best!
Mary Maloney 3 days ago
JoAnn Thorp 5 days ago
This was not your usual good Kellerman book. Sorry I wasted my money and time. Actually only read 1/2 of it. Way too many characters, too much nonsense in-between that could have made the book 100 pages at the most. I would hesitate to buy another one of his books. And he used to be one of my favorite authors!
ShakespeareLover 5 days ago
The writing is vintage Kellerman but the plot is not. Disjointed and choppy and filled with non-sequitors and deus ex machina. The story is barely enjoyable at the beginning and totally confusing by the end. Bizarre entry in an otherwise stellar series. It gets two stars only because I enjoy the characters.
Emily Olszak 5 days ago
And then it seemed to fall off a cliff! Too much ridiculous conversation descriptions and too litle story development. Mr. Kellerman please take your time and think through a complete story next time. The last few books in this series have been very disappointing.
Gayle Norris 10 days ago
Robin Carlson 10 days ago
as always, Jonathon kellerman did it again. Story keeps you intrigued, love the relationship between Sturgis and Delaware.
Amy Stone 10 days ago
Another excellent book by Mr. Kellerman.
NovelKim 10 days ago
Years ago I read every book that came out in the Alex Delaware series and than I fell off the truck. Picking up Kellerman’s latest Alex Delaware/Milo Sturgis foray into hideously horrific homicide was a reminder why I left off. Undoubtedly a mastermind of crime drama Kellerman writes about “Hitler-level cruelty...power lust... and manipulating human beings” wrapped into an esoteric plot. It was Chapter 38 before I was able to tie the title to the denouement. Sure I could have googled it, but what fun is that and then I lose bragging rights. Usually quick to fit the puzzled pieces together, I admit to floundering and being lost through parts of the book and rereading didn’t clarify much for me. The murder, mayhem, depravity and copious amounts of blood were off putting and then factor in the Nazi Art aspect and I was “hmmmm, what?” Really lost. But and this is a big but, the writing is just so good and the shorthand “cop-speak” drew me in and made me feel part of the team. Thank you NetGalley and Random House - Ballantine for an advance copy.
Brenda Kraft 10 days ago
eleventhirteenpm 10 days ago
I think I’ve read every Alex Delaware book there is and it’s always exciting to settle into a new one. Alex is a good character. He’s smart, but accessible; charming, but not smarmy; and loyal loyal loyal. He’s a genuinely good person and I always enjoy being in his head. Milo is a delight and it was fantastic seeing Robin and Blanche. Plot wise, this was captivating. There are several moving pieces and as usual, it had me guessing that everyone was guilty. I reveled in the slow reveals and while I wanted more of an epilogue, what I got was extremely satisfying. Overall, reading an AD book like sort of like coming home: comforting and familiar. I think I will always pick these books up. **Huge thanks to Ballantine Books for providing the arc free of charge**
kmjessica 12 days ago
Johnathan Kellerman has done it again. Another great read! This is An Alex Delaware Series book. #35 to be precise Even though this is a book in a series it can be read as a standalone. I love reading about Alex and what bizarre case he and Milo are working on now. I have read every book Kellerman has written and Loved them all. This one is another on the edge of your seat, weird, twisty mysterious read. It takes place in the art world of sorts and also brings up homelessness and other physiological problems in the world. It starts out with a bizarre murder involving multiple people of all different sorts. And the investigation begins. Enjoy! .
LuvSnoop42 16 days ago
I have been reading Kellerman for 30+ years (since high school) and he never disappoints. I love the team of Alex and Milo. I have yet to read a bad entry to the series. This one is very good. The murders were interesting, seemingly unrelated people found dead in a limo. The ending is surprising, which I think is hard to still do after 35 novels with the same characters! A Johnathan Kellerman novel is like visiting old friends who you don't see a lot of. It's great when you do catch up! I just wish Alex and Robin would get married already! Thank you to NetGalley, Johnathan Kellerman and Ballantine Books for this much loved ARC!!
3no7 17 days ago
“The Museum of Desire” opens as a maintenance worker trudges uphill to clean up after a fancy event at a notorious LA party house. He finds something he will not be able to clean up, something utterly horrible. What follows is not the story of the crime but a story of the victims and the search for justice for them. Dr. Alexander Delaware is a consultant who assists with difficult cases when needed. This case is not only difficult, but also downright strange. The victims are posed, almost like a museum diorama; nothing about this crime makes sense. Delaware feels the key to understanding a crime is to learn about the victims. In a first person narrative, he takes readers through the process of finding out about the victims so he can find out who killed them. He reports everything he sees and hears, what he says, and what others say to him. The victims are a diverse group, and Delaware investigates each in detail, documenting ancillary information that may be important later. Kellerman’s detailed descriptions awaken all senses: the sights, colors, sounds, and smells of people and places. Readers experience the setting through exacting images of pretty streets lined with immaculate houses and precise emerald lawns. Little specifics complete each passage for readers: what people are wearing, how furniture is arranged, what photos are displayed. Delaware’s investigation is slow, deliberate, and detailed, with everyday activities interspersed throughout the narrative. Delaware makes connections and establishes timelines. Things change when more bodies show up; the intensity increases. When the meaning of the book’s title is revealed, things take an astonishing turn. “The Museum of Desire” is filled with twists and shocking turns. Even when things seem to be wrapped up, there is more. I received a review copy of “The Museum of Desire” from Jonathan Kellerman, Random House Publishing Group, and Ballantine Books. The writing superb; the plot is unique and weird. The book is gripping and compelling to read.
SharoninAZ 17 days ago
Jonathan Kellerman is back for a 35th offering in his Alex Delaware series. This one starts with a bizarre murder scene. A driver and three passengers are found in a white stretch limo in a gruesome, sexualized, and overly bloody tableau. Detective Milo Sturgis calls on his sidekick Alex Delaware to try to understand the psychology of the murder. First step is to identify the victims which proves to be especially difficult. Once identified, they are even more confused because none of the victims seem to have a single thing in common. They are different ages, different races, come from different socioeconomic backgrounds, etc. Nothing indicates how they would have crossed paths, much less why they would have been murdered. It's hard for me to judge whether this would be a good stand-alone read as I have read all of the series, but I think any mystery lover will enjoy it, even if it is your first introduction to Alex and Milo. I personally liked this novel a lot, especially as it focused more on the murder investigation than on Alex's relationship with his significant other and their dog, which I find boring. For loyal Kellerman readers, there's nothing new here, but it's a strong new entry to the series. I highly recommend it. My thanks to NetGalley and Random House for providing me a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
fredhandbag 18 days ago
The Museum of Desire is the 35th Alex Delaware novel from Jonathan Kellerman. "Milo Sturgis only calls psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware for murder cases that are "different" And this may be one of the worst they've seen. Four people are found dead in a limo at a party house. It looks like they were posed. Everyone at the crime scene is horrified at what they see. During the investigation another couple disappears and then a suspect disappears...And Sturgis and Delaware are desperate to find a killer..." Milo and Alex work the clues and leads like previous books. Many of these feel like it's real time. But the killer comes from a different direction - an unexpected place tied to history. (No spoilers.) You think you might know who it is and why but then Kellerman gives us and big twist and we see it differently. Glad to see Robin, Alex's partner, taking an active role in helping the guys out and actually finding an early lead. And what an insane ending - wow! Kellerman is a psychologist and really delves into the motivation of murder in his books. If you like to see inside the mind of the killer, you should read his Alex Delaware series. The Museum of Desire is a great addition to the series.
Hundt 18 days ago
Lieutenant Milo Sturgis has solved a lot of murder cases. On many of them—the ones he calls “different”—he taps the brain of brilliant psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware. But neither Alex nor Milo are prepared for what they find on an early morning call to a deserted mansion in Bel Air. This one’s beyond different...’ One of my favorites parts about reading books in a series is watching the character development throughout each book, and I like the rapport between Dr. Alex Delaware and Detective Milo Sturgis, which has me wondering if their early days of investigating crimes together were always this seamless or were there bumps along the way. THE MUSEUM OF DESIRE is the thirty-fifth novel in the Alex Delaware Series, though it is the first that I have read, I am looking forward to canvassing my local library and used bookstores in search of books one through thirty-four. If you like not-so-bloody-heavy-on-the-bizarre-murder-mysteries, then I think you will like this book. Is it an electrifying-pulse-throbbing-psychological-thrill-ride-a-minute??????? No, but I enjoyed the bloody hell out of it! THE MUSEUM OF DESIRE, read easily as a stand-alone, however, based on the last few pages it’s evident that new readers like myself diving into this (or any) series from the newest release (#35), or somewhere in the middle, are missing out on a much bigger story - only to be found in the previous books - and I for one am looking forward to catching up starting with book one WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS. Thank you, NetGalley and Ballantine Books, for loaning me an advance eBook of THE MUSEUM OF DESIRE in exchange for an honest review.
Craig1954 18 days ago
Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. If you enjoy Alex Cross stories then you will like this one. Alex is not challenged very much this time with most of the leg work being done by his friend Lt. Milo Sturgis. I had difficulty keeping the individuals straight in this story There were too many and the interactions between them got very confusing. As always, well written, but is the series getting a little stale and predictable?
tradeoff 19 days ago
By this point in Kellerman' s justly popular series featuring psychologist Alex Delaware,, occasional expert consultant to the LAPD, and Milo Sturges, the gay homicide detective with the prodigious appetite and the tender heart beneath the bluff exterior, has become as comfortable and predictable as a series this durable can be. The only surprise Is the plot and the trappings surrounding it, from the gothic mansion where the crime is discovered to the duplicitous mechanisms by which motive, method and means are revealed. It's a tidy package but nothing new to see or learn inside it.