cover image The Clinic

The Clinic

Jonathan Kellerman. Bantam Books, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-553-08922-6

Kellerman is at his page-turning best in his latest Alex Delaware adventure (after The Web), an investigation into the savage stabbing murder of Hope Devane, a psychology professor and celebrity author. The LAPD, unable to solve the case after three months, reassigns it to Lieutenant Milo Sturgis. Milo calls on his friend Alex, a compassionate, astute psychologist, for insight into the victim, who had a seemingly routine academic career and marriage until writing a pop-psych relationship book. Delving beneath the veneer of Hope's life, Alex uncovers possible enemies: a man with whom she clashed on a TV talk show; students brought before her committee on sexual harassment; patients at a beleaguered women's health clinic where she volunteered. Further questions are raised about the victim's relationships with her doctoral supervisee Casey Locking; about the fertility specialist, from whom she received hefty consultation fees; about her sex life; about a shadowy link to an organized crime figure and the murder of a Las Vegas call girl. Each new avenue of investigation leads Alex and Milo to a dead end until they reach back into Hope Devane's childhood, which reveals links to the present that provide the shocking answer to the puzzle. Kellerman may not be a great stylist, but his serpentine plot and cast of mysterious characters grip the reader to the final page. Major ad/promo. (Jan.)