Alex Delaware

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alex Delaware
Alex Delaware character
Created byJonathan Kellerman
Portrayed byTed Danson
In-universe information
OccupationForensic psychologist for LAPD
DogsFrench Bulldog; Koi

Alex Delaware is a literary character created by American writer Jonathan Kellerman. The Alex Delaware detective series begins with When the Bough Breaks, published in 1985. Delaware appears in 32 of Kellerman's popular murder mysteries. Kellerman set the series in Los Angeles. Delaware is a forensic psychologist, although Kellerman wrote a back story in which Delaware practiced as a child psychologist.

Delaware has a friend, Milo Sturgis, who is a gay LAPD detective. Delaware helps Sturgis in his investigations, and the detective, who eventually reaches the rank of lieutenant, appears in each book in the series. As the series progresses, Delaware's relationship with Robin Castagna evolves, despite two long separations, during which various other romantic interests are introduced. In some of the more recent books in the series, Detective Petra Connor, introduced in Kellerman's standalone novel Billy Straight, also makes an appearance.

The Post-Modern Detective[edit]

'I tried to create Alex as a good psychologist,' says Kellerman, 'Actually he's much more sensitive than I am. But then, I get to rewrite his dialogue .... When you do therapy as a psychologist you focus on the patient,' [Kellerman] says. 'You keep yourself out of it as much as possible. Basically you sit there and try to get that person to communicate to you. So Alex asks people to talk to him. He doesn't inject a lot of himself in there.'
—Jonathan Kellerman [1]

Alex Delaware (born in 1951) is empathetic and caring with particular emphasis on his concern for children. In Alex Delaware, Kellerman draws a hero who appears to be "a levelheaded, appealingly thoughtful guy".[2] Kellerman also provides Alex Delaware with a side-kick, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, as is customary in the mystery genre. It is also revealed that his mother was a manic-depressive and his father a raging, physically abusive alcoholic. Kellerman also adds a girlfriend, Robin Castagna, and a French bulldog, which serve to emphasize Delaware's empathetic nature. In several novels, Alex and Robin break up. Alex begins dating Dr. Alison Gwynn, also a Ph.D., clinical psychologist, while Robin dates Tim Plachette, a voice coach.[3]

Kellerman's characterization of Delaware is typical of the "Post-Modern Detective" whom Professor Dick Gibson defines as "often an untrained amateur ... often sensitive, caring, thoughtful and socially aware, and he is often from a traditionally noninvolved group."[3] Kellerman characterizes Delaware as "sensitive, socially involved, loving and passionate about his patients and his family relationships and cynical only about 'bad guys.'" Additionally, Kellerman brings a professional "sophistication" to the series.[3][4]

Delaware's friend Milo Sturgis, adds to the portrayal of the post-modern detective. As Gibson explains: "[The] other important male role is Milo, a career policeman, a big shambling bear of a man, but, in a stunning role reversal, he is gay."[3] Milo, Gibson points out, "the gay cop all too often functions as the cavalry. Delaware as amateur Knight Errant often gets into horrendous nightmare difficulties."[3]

In the American Psychology Association Patrick McGuire writes about Kellerman's characterization of Delaware: "Alex Delaware's style is unlike that of the typical hard-nosed private eye. He goes about his work by interacting sympathetically with the people he meets and by quiet, professional observation. Kellerman says an empathetic psychologist is an ideal model for a detective." [1]

Some reviewers, however, have criticized the Delaware novels based on overly intricate plotting, too much description of unnecessary elements, and "formula characters."[5][6]

Plot summaries[edit]

When the Bough Breaks (1985)

Kellerman introduces Alex Delaware, Ph.D., in When the Bough Breaks. Kellerman characterizes Delaware as a successful (albeit retired) child psychologist suffering from burn-out after working on a case of systematic child molestation that culminates when the offender commits suicide in Delaware's office. Detective Milo Sturgis urges Delaware to come out of retirement and interview a seven-year-old child who may have witnessed a crime. Sturgis appoints Delaware as a "special consultant" to the Los Angeles Police Department.[7] Kellerman's timing in this novel coincided with news stories about child abuse in child care facilities.[8] The book was adapted as a 1986 film starring Ted Danson as Alex and Richard Masur as Milo.

Blood Test (1986)

In Blood Test, Alex Delaware acts as a consultant in the divorce and child custody case of Richard Moody, a bipolar and potentially dangerous father of two. At the same time, Delaware is contacted by a former colleague, Dr. Raoul Melendez-Lynch, of the oncology department at Western Pediatric Medical Center. Dr. Raoul Melendez-Lynch asks Delaware to consult with Mr. and Mrs. Swope whose child, Woody, needs treatment for cancer. Before Delaware has the opportunity to visit Woody, he vanishes from the hospital and the parents turn up murdered. Delaware sorts through a maze of clues to find the child.[9] Additionally, Kellerman highlights the issue of established medical treatments and new "cult cures" for children.[8]

Over the Edge (1987)

In Over the Edge, Kellerman presents Delaware's back story as a researcher in the study "Project 160", that involved the treatment of gifted children. As the novel opens, Delaware receives a phone call from Jamey Cadmus, who had been involved in the research project. Jamey has been arrested and accused of being a serial killer who preys on young male prostitutes. Delaware is hired by Cadmus' attorney to investigate. In this novel, Kellerman examines preconceived notions about homosexuality; and he examines how others perceive Delaware because of his friendship with Milo Sturgis. In the course of the investigation, Delaware eliminates the obvious clues and discovers a greater evil than he imagined.[10] Additionally, Kellerman investigates psychological problems resulting from childhood genius.[8]

Silent Partner (1989)

In Silent Partner, Kellerman has Delaware involved in a romantic interlude with a former girlfriend. Delaware's lover apparently commits suicide, and he begins an investigation into her death. His lover's identity becomes the focus of the investigation, as Delaware peels away layer after layer to discover a maze of childhood abuse.[8]

Time Bomb (1990)

Time Bomb highlights a school shooting at a Los Angeles elementary school; although the only fatality is the shooter herself, Holly Lynn Burden. Holly's father contacts Delaware and asks him to perform a psychological autopsy. During the course of the investigation Delaware encounters dysfunctional families and political extremism as he races to unravel the real villain as he pulls together all the threads.[11]

Private Eyes (1992)

In Private Eyes, former patient Melissa Dickinson contacts Delaware with a request to investigate a past crime. Her mother, Gina Dickinson had been the victim of an acid attack before Melissa's birth and subsequently suffered from agoraphobia. Shortly after Delaware contacts Dickinson, she disappears. With the help of Milo Sturgis, Delaware begins an investigation into the disappearance.[12]

Devil's Waltz (1993)

In Devil's Waltz, Delaware is asked to investigate the case of 20-month-old Cassie Jones, who is frequently hospitalized. The investigation leads Delaware to uncover secrets within Western Pediatric Hospital and to a "chilling discovery." When a physician is found murdered, Delaware turns to previous murders for clues to the puzzle.[13]

Bad Love (1994)

In Bad Love, Kellerman presents Delaware with an incident involving an anonymous cassette tape with the sound of a screaming child and chants of "bad love". The phrase refers to a seminar Delaware participated in when employed at Western Pediatrics. As usual, his interview skills provide the clues to keep the sleuthing psychologist moving from locale to locale. The action culminates in a fiery climax, when Delaware's canyon home is destroyed.[14]

Self-Defense (1995)

Thirteen months after the events in Bad Love, Delaware meets a former patient who sat on the jury in a serial killer case. The woman suffers recurring nightmares. Delaware must unravel two puzzles: the young woman's recurring nightmares; and the present-day patient who may be the target of a killer. Unraveling the two strands, Kellerman has Delaware face repressed memories, murder groupies, jailhouse autobiographers, all on the trail of a serial killer.[15]

The Web (1996)

Delaware and his girlfriend Robin travel to an island where Delaware assists a doctor collect and organize his works. A complicated plot, laced with ever-present murder, and a weird experiment gone terribly wrong is woven through the uneven writing, uncharacteristic for Kellerman.[16]

The Clinic (1997)

In The Clinic Kellerman presents Delaware with a cold case of murder, and the victim was a "pop psychology" author named Hope Devane. When Sturgis gets the cold case he calls in pal and psychologist Delaware hoping to find insights to Devane's life. The two uncover an execution style crime, her compartmentalized life, and her link to a second murder victim. However, Delaware's turns his forensic psychology skills toward her childhood where he finds answers, danger, and a killer.[17]

Survival of the Fittest (1997)

In the previous books, Kellerman often used a first person narrative form with Alex Delaware's voice, as well as the more objective third person. Character insights have been limited to those observations made by Delaware. However, in this novel, while the first person is limited to Delaware, there are also multiple presentations of the internal perspective of the character of Daniel Sharavi.[18]

Monster (1999)

In the thirteenth novel of the Delaware series, Kellerman paints an end-of-millennium Los Angeles reminiscent of Kenneth Millar's works, to whom Kellerman dedicates Monster. Delaware and Sturgis investigate a crime that leads them to an inmate in the Starkweather Hospital for the Criminally Insane. As usual the plot twists as Delaware and Sturgis uncover the monster living openly in society.[19] The novel also offers a realistic depiction of a mental disorder caused by psychiatric drugs; and features a character, wrongfully blamed for a multiple murder, who suffers mental illness as a result of psychoactive medication.[20]

Dr. Death (2000)

In Dr. Death, Kellerman opens with a corpse found in the Hollywood Hills area, and Alex Delaware is called in to help. Delaware, teamed up with Sturgis, investigates the grisly death of the victim, a Jack Kevorkian type assisted suicide doctor known as "Dr. Death" the victim. Suspects abound with relatives of Dr. Death's "victims". Detective Petra Connor, who Kellerman introduced in Billy Straight, puts in an appearance and helps Sturgis and Delaware.[21]

Flesh and Blood (2001)

In this novel, Delaware receives a call from a former patient's mother, whose daughter is missing. Delaware last saw her at a bachelor party performing as a stripper. Once again, he finds himself in dangerous situations as he attempts to help Sturgis uncover clues.[2]

The Murder Book (2002)

In The Murder Book, Jonathan Kellerman presents a new and "spellbinding" case for Delaware and Sturgis. Delaware receives a photo album from an unknown source that chronicles a number of murders. Sturgis recognizes the photo of a victim from one of his unsolved crimes two decades earlier. The first part of the novel focuses on Sturgis' early career and a cover-up that's lasted to the present.[22]

A Cold Heart (2003)

In A Cold Heart, Kellerman has Milo Sturgis tell Delaware "I've got a weird one, so naturally I thought of you." Sturgis summons Delaware to an art gallery where a young artist has been murdered and the scene suggests to Delaware the work of a serial killer. Teaming up with Petra Connor and her new partner, Sturgis and Delaware follow the clues to a fanzine writer, and as they track down the clues to the killer, bringing them to the doorstep of Delaware's ex-lover Robin Castagna.[23]

Therapy (2004)

In Therapy, Delaware and Sturgis investigate the death of a double murder on Mulholland Drive that leads to human rights' atrocities in Rwanda. Full of red herrings and clues, Kellerman throws out a plethora of psychological leads for Delaware.[24]

Rage (2005)

In Rage Kellerman presents Delaware with a case of child abduction and murder. Upon his release from prison, the child murderer contacts Delaware, but is murdered himself. Teaming up with Milo Sturgis, Delaware encounter "wayward children, a foster family from hell....and a serial killer who's the exact opposite of the genre's usual madman slasher but just as deadly." Delaware and Sturgis sift the evidence piece by piece in this complicated case.[25]

Gone (2006)

Delaware investigates the kidnapping of two aspiring young actors. When one of the actors is murdered, Delaware and Sturgis follow the clues that show the two were prey to an odd acting coach and an aspiring real estate developer.[26]

Obsession (2007)

A teenage girl whom Delaware had treated for obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child suddenly wants to see him. The girl's aunt—and adoptive mother—has made a stunning deathbed confession. The ensuing investigation triggers murderous steps to cover up a series of old crimes.[26]

Compulsion (2008)

A tipsy young woman seeking aid on a desolate highway disappears into the inky black night. A retired schoolteacher is stabbed to death in broad daylight. Two women are butchered after closing time in a small-town beauty parlor. These and other bizarre acts of cruelty and psychopathology are linked only by the killer's use of luxury vehicles and a baffling lack of motive. The ultimate whodunits, these crimes demand the attention of LAPD detective Milo Sturgis and his collaborator on the crime beat, psychologist Alex Delaware.

Bones (2009)

In Bones, a wealthy teenager gets an unnerving message about something "real dead . . . buried in your marsh." Later, the body of a young piano teacher is found in the swamp. Delaware and Sturgis begin their investigation, as more bones begin to surface from the protected urban swamp. Delaware and Sturgis unearth the details of the young piano teacher's life.[27]

Evidence (2010)

In Evidence, L.A. police lieutenant Milo Sturgis investigates a double homicide at the site of an unfinished, obscenely large mansion. Construction halted on the house two years earlier, and ownership can be traced only to a defunct holding company in Washington, D.C. The male victim is easily identified—Desmond Backer, who worked for an odd little architectural firm—but the female victim's identity isn't immediately apparent. Alex serves as a sounding board while Milo pursues assorted rumors and false leads: the site owners are Arabs, Asians, Muslims; the killings were vengeance; the victims were eco-terrorists; the deaths are linked to the disappearance of a Swedish or Swiss woman years before. Without magic, just steady, inspired police work, including horse-trading with the FBI and skillful interrogations, Milo uncovers the unsavory truth.

Deception (2010)

In Deception, Deputy Chief Weinberg assigns LAPD Lt. Milo Sturgis the particularly sensitive murder case of Elise Freeman, a teacher and tutor at exclusive Windsor Preparatory Academy in Brentwood. Despite Elise's having left a DVD accusing three fellow teachers at the academy of repeated sexual harassment, Sturgis and Delaware have it made clear to them that their investigation is to involve the prestigious academy as little as possible. As the investigation reveals a victim that had a lot to hide and a boyfriend, students, teachers, administrators as well as a Deputy Chief who are all anxious to keep those secrets hidden—and at least one of them is willing to kill again.

Mystery (2011)

In Mystery, Delaware and Sturgis tackle the online dating world, when one of its sexy girls gets her face blown off in real time. Said website sets up sugar daddies with young women ("sweeties") looking for someone to take care of them, but all hell breaks loose when corpses variously mutilated start turning up and a rich family is somehow involved. Some interesting privacy issues in the cyberspace.

Victims (2012)

A serial killer à la Jack the Ripper, with disemboweled victims lined up in ritual precision, where compulsion and obsession mix in an explosive cocktail of violence and gore. A disturbing scenario that involves a former asylum and psychiatric malpractice: it's Alex's habitat indeed, and he knows how to move.

Guilt (2013)

In Guilt, a series of horrifying events occur in quick succession in the same upscale L.A. neighborhood. A backyard renovation unearths an infant's body, buried sixty years ago. And soon thereafter in a nearby park, another disturbingly bizarre discovery is made not far from the body of a young woman shot in the head. Helping LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis to link these eerie incidents is brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But even the good doctor's vast experience with matters both clinical and criminal might not be enough to cut down to the bone of this chilling case—and draw out the disturbing truth.

Killer (2014)

In Killer, Dr. Delaware becomes briefly embroiled in a bizarre custody battle between two sisters; one, a sophisticated, successful doctor, the other, an itinerant groupie. When the former is found murdered and the other disappears with her child, gay LAPD homicide detective Milo Sturgis will need Dr. Delaware's insight, expertise - and instinct - to solve the case.

Motive (2015)

Even hundreds of closed cases to his credit can't keep LAPD lieutenant Milo Sturgis from agonizing over the crimes that don't get solved—and the victims who go without justice. Victims like Katherine Hennepin, a young woman strangled and stabbed in her home. A single suspect with a solid alibi leads to a dead end—one even psychologist Alex Delaware's expert insight can't explain. The only thing to do is move on to the next murder case—because there is always a next one. This time the victim is Ursula Corey, a successful, attractive divorcee who's been gunned down—not a robbery but an execution, a crime that smacks of simple, savage revenge. And along with that theoretical motive come two strong contenders for the role of suspect: the dead woman's business partner/ex-husband and her divorce lawyer/secret lover. But just as Alex and Milo think they're zeroing in on the killer, a bizarre new clue stirs up echoes of the unsolved Hennepin murder. And the discovery of yet another crime scene bearing the same taunting signature raises the specter of a serial killer on a mission, whose twisted method is exceeded only by his manipulative and cunning madness.

Breakdown (2016)

Psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware meets beautiful and emotionally fragile TV actress Zelda Chase when called upon to evaluate her five-year-old son, Ovid. Years later, Alex is unexpectedly reunited with Zelda when she is involuntarily committed after a bizarre psychotic episode. Shortly after Zelda's release, an already sad situation turns tragic when she is discovered dead on the grounds of a palatial Bel Air estate. Having experienced more than enough of L.A.’s dark side to recognize the scent of evil, Alex turns to his friend LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis for help in finding out who ended Zelda's broken life. At the same time, Alex is caught up in another quest: the search for Zelda's missing son. And when other victims vanish from the same upscale neighborhood, worry turns to terror. As Alex struggles to piece together the brief rise and steep fall of a gorgeous, talented actress, he and Milo unveil shattered dreams, the corruption of a family, and a grotesque betrayal of innocence. With each devastating revelation and damning clue, Alex's brilliant mind is challenged as never before—and his determination grows to see a killer caged and the truth set free.

Heartbreak Hotel (2017)

At nearly one hundred years old, Thalia Mars is a far cry from the patients that child psychologist Alex Delaware normally treats. But the charming, witty woman convinces Alex to meet with her in a suite at the Aventura, a luxury hotel with a checkered history. What Thalia wants from Alex are answers to unsettling questions—about guilt, patterns of criminal behavior, victim selection. When Alex asks the reason for her morbid fascination, Thalia promises to tell all during their next session. But when he shows up the following morning, he is met with silence: Thalia is dead in her room. When questions arise about how Thalia perished, Alex and homicide detective Milo Sturgis must peel back the layers of a fascinating but elusive woman's life and embark on one of the most baffling investigations either of them has ever experienced. For Thalia Mars is a victim like no other, an enigma who harbored nearly a century of secrets and whose life and death draw those around her into a vortex of violence.

Night Moves (2018)

Alex is called in to assist with a murder of a faceless victim, with whom the owners of the home the body is found in, the Corvins, are unfamiliar. The investigation uncovers that, aside from the Corvins, the rest of the community is particularly secretive and uncooperative, and unwilling to divulge information to Alex and the LAPD to solve this violent crime. Alex navigates the secrets of this well-to-do enclave of Los Angeles, exploring everything from the greed to shady sexual and deadly secrets, to get to the bottom of this case.


The ISBN is for the first U.S. edition of each Alex Delaware novel:[28]

  • When the Bough Breaks (1985)
    ISBN 0-689-11519-9
  • Blood Test (1986)
    ISBN 0-689-11634-9
  • Over the Edge (1987)
    ISBN 0-689-11635-7
  • Silent Partner (1989)
    ISBN 0-553-05370-1
  • Time Bomb (1990)
    ISBN 0-553-05796-0
  • Private Eyes (1992)
    ISBN 0-553-08013-X
  • Devil's Waltz (1993)
    ISBN 0-553-09205-7
  • Bad Love (1994)
    ISBN 0-553-08919-6
  • Self-Defense (1995)
    ISBN 0-553-08920-X
  • The Web (1996)
    ISBN 0-553-08921-8
  • The Clinic (1997)
    ISBN 0-553-08922-6
  • Survival of the Fittest (1997)
    ISBN 0-345-45884-2
  • Monster (1999)
    ISBN 0-679-45960-X
  • Dr. Death (2000)
    ISBN 0-679-45961-8
  • Flesh and Blood
    (2001) ISBN 0-679-45962-6
  • The Murder Book
    (2002) ISBN 0-345-45253-4
  • A Cold Heart (2003)
    ISBN 0-345-45255-0
  • Therapy (2004)
    ISBN 0-375-43370-8
  • Rage (2005)
    ISBN 0-345-46706-X
  • Gone (2006)
    ISBN 0-345-45261-5
  • Obsession (2007)
    ISBN 978-0-345-45263-4
  • Compulsion (2008)
    ISBN 0-345-45255-0
  • Bones (2009)
    ISBN 978-0-345-49513-6
  • Evidence (2010)
    ISBN 978-0-345-49519-8
  • Deception (2010)
    ISBN 978-0-345-51923-8
  • Mystery (2011)
    ISBN 978-0-345-50569-9
  • Victims (2012)
    ISBN 978-0-345-50571-2
  • Guilt (2013)
    ISBN 978-0-345-50573-6
  • Killer (2014)
  • Motive (2015)
  • Breakdown (2016)
  • Heartbreak Hotel (2017)
  • Night Moves (2018)
    ISBN 978-0525590361
  • The Wedding Guest (2019)
    ISBN 978-0-525-61849-2


The first novel in the series,When the Bough Breaks was adapted as a 1986 film starring Ted Danson as Alex Delaware and Richard Masur as Milo Sturgis.


  1. ^ a b "Boosting Psychology Through Fiction". American Psychology Association Online. June 1998. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  2. ^ a b Maslin, Jane Book of the Times: The Case of the Good Girl Gone Bad The New York Times. 2001-11-22. Retrieved 2009-06-10.
  3. ^ a b c d e Gibson, Dick (1994). "Headshrinker, Gay Cop, Culture Thief:New Role Models in Tony Hillerman and Jonathan Kellerman" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-04-19. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ Maslin, Janet (Nov 11, 2001). "The Case of the Good Girl Turned Bad". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  5. ^ Lehmann-Haupt, Christopher (Jan 13, 1992). "Dr. Delaware to the Rescue Again". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  6. ^ "Rage". American Psychiatric Association. 2005. Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  7. ^ Gross, John (12 March 1985). "Book of The Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  8. ^ a b c d Herbert, Rosemary (10 October 1989). "What Did His Women Want". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Blood Test". Library Journal. 111 (4): 111. 1986.
  10. ^ "Over The Edge". Magill Book Reviews. January 1990.
  11. ^ Gecan, Carolyn E. (04-1991) 'Time Bomb" Library Journal 37 (4):154
  12. ^ Sobczak, AJ (March 1992). "Private Eyes". Magill Book Reviews.
  13. ^ Shaffer, Nancy (April 1993). "Devil's Waltz". Library Journal. 118 (7): 146.
  14. ^ De Haven, Tom (14 Jan 1994). "Bad Love". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  15. ^ Harris, Mark (20 January 1995). "Self- Defense". Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  16. ^ Zipp, Yvonne. "The Web". Christian Science Monitor. 88 (59): 15.
  17. ^ "The Clinic". Random House Inc. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  18. ^ Kleeberg, Michael (November 1998). "Survival of the Fittest". Magill Book Reviews.
  19. ^ Hartlaub, Joe. "Monster". Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  20. ^ Kellerman, Jonathan. Monster. Ballantine Books (1999).
  21. ^ Stankowski, Rebecca House (November 2000). "Dr. Death". Library Journal. 125 (18).
  22. ^ Glaviano, Cliff (May 2003). "The Murder Book". Library Journal. 128 (8): 170.
  23. ^ "A Cold Heart". Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  24. ^ Maslin, Janet (May 20, 2004). "Therapy". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  25. ^ "Rage". Publishers Weekly. 252 (17): 38.
  26. ^ a b "KO's from Kellerman". 1 Sep 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  27. ^ Anderson, Patrick (2008-12-15). "A Fractured World". Washington Post. Retrieved 6 July 2009.
  28. ^ "Library of Congress Online Catalog". The Library of Congress. Retrieved 14 July 2009.