Self-Defense (Alex Delaware Series #9)

Self-Defense (Alex Delaware Series #9)

by Jonathan Kellerman


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Dr. Alex Delaware doesn’t see many private patients anymore, but the young woman called Lucy is an exception. So is her dream. Lucy Lowell is referred to Alex by Los Angeles police detective Milo Sturgis. A juror at the agonizing trial of a serial killer, Lucy survived the trauma only to be tormented by a recurring nightmare: a young child in the forest at night, watching a strange and furtive act.
“Exciting . . . loaded with tension and packed with titillating insights.”—The New York Times Book Review
Now Lucy’s dream is starting to disrupt her waking life, and Alex is concerned. The power of the dream, its grip on Lucy’s emotions, suggests to him that it may be more than a nightmare. It may be the repressed childhood memory of something very real. Something like murder.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781568952062
Publisher: Cengage Gale
Publication date: 04/01/1995
Series: Alex Delaware Series , #9
Pages: 556
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (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 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

Chapter 1
She smiled, as usual.
From her chair she had a fine view of the ocean. This morning it was a wrinkled teal sheet gilded with sunrise. A triangle of pelicans reconnoitered overhead. I doubted she’d notice any of it.
She moved around a bit, trying to get comfortable.
“Good morning, Lucy.”
“Good morning, Dr. Delaware.”
Her purse was at her feet, a huge macramé bag with leather straps. She had on a light blue cotton sweater and a pleated pink skirt. Her hair was fawn-colored, sleek, shoulder length with feather bangs. Her slender face was lightly freckled, with great cheekbones and fine features ruled by huge brown eyes. She looked younger than twenty-five.
“So,” she said, shrugging and still smiling.
The smile died. “Today I want to talk about him.”
She covered her mouth, then removed her fingers. “The things he did.”
I nodded.
“No,” she said. “I don’t mean what we’ve already been over. I’m talking about things I haven’t told you.”
“The details.”
She squeezed her lips together. One hand was in her lap, and her fingers began to drum. “You have no idea.”
“I read the trial transcript, Lucy.”
“All of it?”
“All the crime-scene details. Detective Sturgis’s testimony.” Private testimony, too.
“Oh … then I guess you do know.” She glanced at the ocean. “I thought I’d dealt with it, but all of a sudden I can’t get it out of my head.”
“The dreams?”
“No, these are waking thoughts. Images float into my head. When I’m at my desk, watching TV, whatever.”
“Images from the trial?”
“The worst things from the trial—those photo blowups. Or I’ll flash on facial expressions. Carrie Fielding’s parents. Anna Lopez’s husband.” Looking away. “His face. I feel like I’m going through it all over again.”
“It hasn’t been that long, Lucy.”
“Two months isn’t long?”
“Not for what you went through.”
“I suppose,” she said. “The whole time I sat there in that jury box, I felt as if I was living in a toxic waste dump. The grosser the testimony got, the more he enjoyed it. His staring games—those stupid satanic drawings on his hands. As if he was daring us to see how bad he was. Daring us to punish him.”
She gave a sour smile. “We took the dare, all right, didn’t we? I suppose it was an honor to put him away. So why don’t I feel honored?”
“The end result may have been honorable, but getting there—”
She shook her head, as if I’d missed the point. “He defecated on them! In them! After he—the holes he made in them!” Tears filled her eyes.
“Why?” she said.
“I couldn’t even begin to explain someone like him, Lucy.”
“She was silent for a long time. “Everything was a big game for him. In some ways he was just like an overgrown kid, wasn’t he? Turning people into dolls so he could play with them.… Some kids play like that, don’t they?”
“Not normal kids.”
“Do you think he was abused the way he claimed?”
“There’s no evidence he was.”
“Yes,” she said, “but still. How could someone … could he really have been in some kind of altered state, a multiple personality like that psychiatrist claimed?”
“There’s no evidence of that either, Lucy.”
“I know, but what do you think?”
“My guess is that his crazy behavior at the trial was faked for the insanity plea.”
“So you think he was totally rational?”
“I don’t know if rational’s the right word, but he certainly wasn’t psychotic or the prisoner of uncontrollable urges. He chose to do what he did. He liked hurting people.”
She touched a wet cheek. “You don’t think he was sick.”
“Not in the sense of benefiting from a pill or surgery or even psychotherapy.” I handed her a tissue.
“So death’s what’s called for.”
“What’s called for is keeping him away from the rest of us.”
“Well, we did that, all right. The DA said if anyone’s going to get gassed, it’s him.” She gave an angry laugh.”
“Does that trouble you?” I said.
“No … maybe. I don’t know. I mean, if he ever makes it to the gas chamber I’m not going to be standing around watching him asphyxiate. He deserves it, but … I guess it’s the calculated aspect that gets to me. Knowing that on such and such a day, at such and such a time … but would I do anything different? What would be the alternative? Giving him a chance of getting out and doing those things again?”
“Even correct choices can be agonizing.”
“Do you believe in the death penalty?”
I thought for a while, composing my answer. Normally, I avoided injecting my opinions into therapy, but this time evasion would be a mistake. “I’m where you are, Lucy. The idea of someone being calculatedly put to death bothers me, and I’d have trouble pulling the switch. But I can see cases where it might be the best choice.”
“So what does that make us, Dr. Delaware? Hypocrites?”
“No,” I said. “It makes us human.”
“I didn’t jump at gassing him, you know. I was the holdout. The others were really on me to finish up.”
“Was it rough for you?”
“No, they weren’t nasty or anything. Just persistent. Repeating their reasons and staring at me, like I was a stupid kid who’d eventually come around. So I guess I have to wonder if part of it was good old peer pressure.”
“As you said, what would have been the alternative?”
“Guess so.”
“You’re in conflict because you’re a moral person,” I said. “Maybe that’s why the images have started returning.”
She looked confused. “What do you mean?”
“Maybe at this point in time you need to remember exactly what Shwandt did.”
“To convince myself what I did was right?”
That seemed to calm her, but she cried some more. The tissue in her hand was wadded tight, and I handed her another one.
“It all boiled down to sex, didn’t it?” she said, with sudden anger. “He got off on other people’s pain. All that defense testimony about uncontrollable impulses was bull—those poor, poor women, what he made them—God, why am I starting my day talking about this?”
She looked at her watch. “Better be going.”
The clock on the mantel said fifteen minutes to go.
“We’ve got time left.”
“I know, but would you mind if I left a little early? Stuff’s been piling up; my desk is a—” She grimaced and looked away.
“It’s what, Lucy?”
“I was going to say a bloody mess.” Laughter. “The whole experience has warped me, Dr. Delaware.”
I reached over and touched her shoulder. “Give it time.”
“I’m sure you’re right.… Time. I wish there were thirty-four hours in the day.”
“Are you backlogged because of jury duty?”
“No, I cleared the backlog the first week. But my workload seems heavier. They keep shoving stuff at me, as if they’re punishing me.”
“Why would they be punishing you?”
“For taking three months off. The firm was legally obligated to grant me leave, but they weren’t happy about it. When I showed my boss the notice, he told me to get out of it. I didn’t. I thought it was important. I didn’t know what trial I’d be assigned to.”
“Had you known, would you have tried to get out of it?”
She thought. “I don’t know.… Anyway, I’ve got eight new major corporate accounts to clear paper on. Used to be only tax season was like this.”
She shrugged and stood. Behind her, the pelicans began a dive in formation.
When we reached the door, she said, “Have you seen Detective Sturgis lately?”
“I saw him a couple of days ago.”
“How’s he doing?”
“What a nice guy. How does he deal with this kind of stuff constantly?”
“Not every case is like Shwandt.”
“Thank God for that.” Her skirt was in place but she tugged at it, smoothing the thin fabric over hard, narrow hips.
“Are you sure you want to leave early, Lucy? We’ve gotten into some pretty disturbing stuff.”
“I know, but I’ll be fine. Talking about it’s made me feel better.”
We left the house and walked across the footbridge to the front gate. I turned the bolt and we stepped out to Pacific Coast Highway. This far north of the Malibu Colony, coastal traffic was thin—a few commuters from Ventura and produce trucks rattling down from Oxnard. But the vehicles that did pass were speeding and deafening, and I could barely hear her when she thanked me, again.
I watched her get into her little blue Colt. The car fired up and she gave the wheel a quick turn, peeling out, burning rubber.
I went back inside and charted the session.
Fourth session. Once again, talking about Shwandt’s crimes, the trial, the victims, but not the dreams that had brought her to me in the first place.
I’d mentioned them the first time, but she changed the subject abruptly and I backed off. So maybe the dreams had ceased as she got some of the horror out of her system.
I started some coffee, went out to the deck, and watched the pelicans while thinking about her sitting in the jury box for three months.
Ninety days in a toxic dump. All because she didn’t eat meat.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Kellerman at his best.”—USA Today
“Satisfying . . . suspenseful.”—Playboy

Customer Reviews

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Self-Defense (Alex Delaware Series #9) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is another great novel by MR. K... it seems that evertime he gets into a novel I can not put the book down unit I have finished.
Darrol on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Somewhat better motivated book than the last. Still nothing much in the way of psychological insight, not even real dream interpretation. Literary block and pseudo-Nietzchean blather.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was ok not the best not The worst!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't get enough of this series. Always a shock at the end. Fantastic writer.
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PecanTan More than 1 year ago
I love the Alex Delaware Series. I lost contact with the series for a few years, but now that I am back I order about 3 books a month and truly enjoy the reading. I find the story lines to really be page turners. I have given up my favorite television story to continue reading afraid I am going to miss something. If you are a Jonathan Kellerman/Alex Delaware follower this is a must read in the series. It can be read out of sequence but I like following Alex's personal life in a sequencial manner. I do not want to find myself reading about another personal friend and not know how she/he got there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part describing Milo's apperance at the Italian restauraunt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
(Okay. Quick introduction. I based this off 'The Mansion' from DeviantART. It will be very similar to that. This is kind of like those 'choose your own adventure' books. If you don't know what those are, I can't really help in explaining what this is. Basically, it's kinda like RPing with a book. Hope that makes sense. Anywhoo. Enjoy, dear friend!) <p> Deep in a forest, you sleep foolishly in the middle of the most dangerous glades in all of the Earth. You've been homeless for quite some time now, and you've decided that the best way to maintain survival is to cut yourself off from the dangerous streets of Los Angeles. You shift to the left. A howling wind awakens you, and you are surprised to see your own shoes walking away from you. With some hesitation, you lunge outward, giving chase towards your shoes. They continue to withdraw from you, retreating deeper and deeper until you finally emerge into a small clearing in the trees. A looming shadow comes across you and you tremble on the spot in the intimidating presence of a large, gargantuan manor house. Biting your lip, you spot your shoes walking away inside the front door. Knowing that you must retrieve your valuables, you nudge the dark gates open and dare to intrude. <p> You skim up the cobbled steps and approach the large brown doors, slipping them open and looking back before entering. Your last chance to choose to go back closes ominously behind you as you step into the grand foyer of the manor. Suddenly a deep, guttural snarling bellows from behind you. You turn to find the front doors wreathing in flames of a shadow, a hollow creature leaping forth to charge at you. <p> YOU MUST CHOOSE YOUR ESCAPE PATH QUICKLY <p> Left Corridor: 'ides' Result one <p> Upstairs: 'qop' result one