He has been called a master of psychological suspense — and he has the degrees to back up that claim. Using his own scientific knowledge, Kellerman explores the dark depths of the human mind. Reading the Jonathan Kellerman books in order is a wonderful foray into the darkest corners of humanity.
Who is Jonathan Kellerman?
Before he became a bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman was a psychotherapist with a specialty in the treatment of children. He didn’t turn to writing fiction full-time until his career was already well-established and he was well-respected in the field.
Even then, he says it was a reluctant decision. But, his deciding factor was that after two decades as a psychologist he was ready to try his hand at being a full-time writer.
Kellerman was born in New York City, but grew up in Los Angeles. He then attended UCLA for his undergraduate and received his PhD in psychology at the age of 24 — just like his popular protagonist Alex Delaware.
Throughout his studies Kellerman worked as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician. At the age of 22, he even won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction. He says he has written compulsively since the age of nine.
But he broke ground as a child psychologist in researching the effects of extreme isolation on children with cancer and changing the care for these children and their families. Even though he gave up his psychology practice with the success of his novels, he remains active in the field. He is a clinical professor of pediatrics and psychology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
Kellerman is also married to Faye Kellerman, a popular crime thriller author in her own right. If you would like to learn more about her career, you can read this article about all the Faye Kellerman books in order. Jonathan Kellerman has collaborated with both his wife and son, Jesse Kellerman, for certain novels.
Jonathan Kellerman Books in Order
Alex Delaware Series
Just like author Jonathan Kellerman, Alex Delaware is a child psychologist. He uses his expertise in the industry to aid LAPD detective Milo Sturgis with difficult, complicated cases.
Like with many thriller novels, each Delaware book contains a case that reaches its conclusion by the end of the novel. However, it is recommended to read these Jonathan Kellerman books in order of publication. This is also the chronological order.
While Delaware’s character remains steadfast throughout the series — his strong morals, empathy, and eye for detail — reading the books in this order will allow you to experience the nuance of the character and plot development. Throughout the course of the series Delaware encounters some of the most horrific cases imaginable. This very obviously affects him.
As well, if you read these books in order, you will better understand the repertoire and relationship between Delaware and Sturgis.
- When the Bough Breaks / Shrunken Heads (1985)
- Blood Test (1986)
- Over the Edge (1987)
- Silent Partner (1989)
- Time Bomb (1990)
- Private Eyes (1991)
- Devil’s Waltz (1992)
- Bad Love (1993)
- Self-Defense (1994)
- The Web (1995)
- The Clinic (1996)
- Survival of the Fittest (1996)
- Monster (1999)
- Dr. Death (2000)
- Flesh and Blood (2001)
- The Murder Book (2002)
- A Cold Heart (2003)
- Therapy (2004)
- Rage (2005)
- Gone (2006)
- Obsession (2007)
- Compulsion (2008)
- Bones (2008)
- Evidence (2009)
- Deception (2010)
- Mystery (2011)
- Victims (2012)
- Guilt (2013)
- Killer (2014)
- Motive (2015)
- Breakdown (2016)
- Heartbreak Hotel (2017)
- Night Moves (2018)
- The Wedding Guest (2019)
- The Museum of Desire (2020)
- Serpentine (2021)
- City of the Dead (2022)
- Unnatural History (Expected: February 7, 2023)
Alex Delaware Graphic Novels
As well, there are two graphic novel adaptations of the Alex Delaware books.
Petra Connor Series
The next series on this list of the Jonathan Kellerman books in order is a spin-off series to Alex Delaware which takes place in the same world. For fans of that series, Petra Connor also features a few cameos of the child psychologist and LAPD consultant.
The series follows the investigations of Petra Connor who is a police officer in Los Angeles within the Hollywood division.
Detective Jacob Lev Series
Jonathan Kellerman writes this series alongside his son Jesse Kellerman. As one might expect with golem featuring in the titles, Detective Jacob Lev is a paranormal mystery series.
The first book introduces Jacob Lev as a burned-out LAPD detective. He has just recently been transferred to a Special Projects department that he never knew existed and his first case is an unidentified severed head on the floor of a house in the Hollywood hills. Lev will then embark on an odyssey around the world during which everything he has ever believed will be called into question.
Clay Edison Series
The next series on our list of the Jonathan Kellerman books in order is another one which he co-authors with his son Jesse Kellerman.
It stars Clay Edison, a coroner whose job is to determine whether the body in front of him is a victim of natural causes or foul play. In the first book of the series Edison’s expertise is called into question when the daughter of the victim is adamant her father is a murder victim. Her determination sets Edison on a hunt through scandal and violence and into the darkest corners of the human soul.
Jonathan Kellerman is also the author of half a dozen standalone novels, two of which he co-wrote with his wife Faye Kellerman. As with all of his fiction writing, these are haunting psychological thrillers.
- The Butcher’s Theater (1988)
- Double Homicide (1993) (With Faye Kellerman)
- The Conspiracy Club (2003)
- Capital Crimes (2006) (With Faye Kellerman)
- True Detectives (2009)
- The Murderer’s Daughter (2016)
Kellerman has also written two short stories that are not part of anthologies. Both of these titles are still in circulation.
Unlike the other titles on this list of the Jonathan Kellerman books in order, this is an illustrated collection of poetry. The intention of this collection, for both parents and children, is to spark the imagination as they treat issues such as conformity and other childhood concerns.
Some of the below books are no longer in print; however, you may be able to find a second-hand copy. The majority of these non-fiction books are centered around child psychology from Jonathan Kellerman’s time as a psychotherapist. The final title on this list is all about one of Kellerman’s hobbies and great passions: Guitars.
- Psychological Aspects of Childhood Cancer (1980) (Out of Print)
- Helping the Fearful Child (1981) (Out of Print)
- Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children (1999)
- The Best American Crime Reporting 2008 (2008)
- With Strings Attached: The Art and Beauty of Vintage Guitars (2008) (Out of Print)
Finally, Jonathan Kellerman has contributed to three anthologies during his career as an author, which are listed below.
- Great Writers and Kids Write Mystery Stories (1996)
- The Best American Mystery Stories (1997)
- Diagnosis Dead (1999)
A Summary of Jonathan Kellerman Books in Order
To take a closer look at some of the Jonathan Kellerman books in order, below you will find summaries for the first 10 Alex Delaware books.
Of the 63 books Kellerman has written, 37 belong to this series. There is also another book forthcoming early next year. This makes Alex Delaware a great place to start exploring Kellerman’s writing; however, Kellerman does not shy away from the dark horrors of psychological thrillers, which will make these books haunting reads.
1. When the Bough Breaks
Dr. Morton Hander practiced a strange brand of psychiatry. Among his specialties were fraud, extortion, and sexual manipulation. Hander paid for his sins when he was brutally murdered in his luxurious Pacific Palisades apartment. The police have no leads, but they do have one possible witness: Seven-year-old Melody Quinn.
It’s psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware’s job to try to unlock the terrible secret buried in Melody’s memory. But as the sinister shadows in the girl’s mind begin to take shape, Alex discovers that the mystery touches a shocking incident in his own past. And behind it lies an unspeakable evil that Alex Delaware must expose before it claims another innocent victim.
The alternate title for When the Bough Breaks is Shrunken Heads.
2. Blood Test
It is a case unlike any psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware has ever encountered. Five-year-old Woody Swope is ill, but his parents refuse to agree to the one treatment that could save him.
Alex sets out to convince Mr. and Mrs. Swope. Only to find that the parents have left the hospital and taken their son with them.
Worse, the sleazy motel where the Swopes were staying is empty — except for an ominous blood stain. They have vanished into the sordid shadows of the city.
Now Alex and his friend, homicide detective Milo Sturgis, have no choice but to push the law to the breaking point. They are forced to enter an amoral underworld where drugs, dreams, and sex are all for sale and fantasies are fulfilled at any price. Even at the cost of a young boy’s life.
3. Over the Edge
When the phone rings in the middle of the night, child psychologist Alex Delaware does not hesitate. Driving through the dream-lit San Fernando Valley, Alex rushes to Jamey Cadmus, the patient he had failed five years before — and who now calls with a bizarre cry for help.
But by the time Alex reaches Canyon Oaks Psychiatric Hospital, Jamey is gone. He surfaces a day later in the hands of the police. But they believe Jamey is the infamous Lavender Slasher, a psychotic serial killer.
Wooed by a high-powered attorney to build a defense, Alex will get a chance to do what he couldn’t five years ago. And when he peers into a family’s troubled history and Jamey’s brilliant, tormented mind, the psychologist puts himself at the heart of a high-profile case. Because Alex knows that in a realm of money, loss, and madness, something terrible pushed Jamey over the edge — or else someone is getting away with murder.
4. Silent Partner
At a party for a controversial Los Angeles sex therapist, Alex Delaware encounters a face from his own past. Sharon Ransom is an exquisite, alluring lover who left him abruptly more than a decade earlier.
Now, Sharon hints that she desperately needs help, but Alex evades her. Then the next day she is dead, an apparent suicide.
Driven by guilt and sadness, Alex plunges into the maze of Sharon’s life. It is a journey that will take him through the pleasure palaces of California’s ultrarich, into the alleyways of the mind, where childhood terrors still hold sway.
5. Time Bomb
By the time psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware reached the school the damage was done. A sniper had opened fire on a crowded playground, but was gunned down before any children were hurt.
While the TV news crews feasted on the scene and Alex began his therapy sessions with the traumatized children, he couldn’t escape the image of a slight teenager clutching an oversized rifle.
What was the identity behind the name and face? A would-be assassin, or just another victim beneath an indifferent California sky?
Intrigued by a request from the sniper’s father to conduct a “psychological autopsy” of his child, Alex begins to uncover a strange pattern. It is a trail of blood.
That’s because in the dead sniper’s past was a dark and vicious plot. And in Alex Delaware’s future is the stuff of grown-up nightmares: The face of real human evil.
6. Private Eyes
The voice belongs to a woman, but Dr. Alex Delaware remembers a little girl. It is eleven years since seven-year-old Melissa Dickinson dialed the hospital help line for comfort — and found it in therapy with Alex Delaware.
Now the lovely young heiress is desperately calling for the psychologist’s help once more. Only this time it looks like Melissa’s deepest childhood nightmare is really coming true.
Twenty years ago, Gina Dickinson, Melissa’s mother, suffered a grisly assault that left the budding actress irreparably scarred and emotionally crippled. Now her acid-wielding assailant is out of prison and back in L.A. So Melissa is terrified that the monster has returned to hurt Gina again.
But before Alex Delaware can even begin to soothe his former patient’s fears, Gina, a recluse for twenty years, disappears. And now, unless Delaware turns crack detective to uncover the truth, Gina Dickinson will be just one more victim of a cold fury that has already spawned madness…and murder.
7. Devil’s Waltz
In one of the most frightening and challenging cases of his career, Dr. Alex Delaware must confront a strange medical mystery involving a child.
Twenty-one-month-old Cassie Jones is the picture of health. But her parents rush her to the emergency room night after night with symptoms no doctor can explain. Cassie’s parents seem genuinely concerned.
Meanwhile, her favorite nurse is a model of devotion. When Delaware is called in to investigate, instinct tells him that one of them could be a monster. Then a physician is brutally murdered.
A shadowy death is revealed. And Alex and his friend, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, have only hours to uncover the link between Cassie’s terrifying condition and these shocking, seemingly unrelated events.
8. Bad Love
It came in a plain brown wrapper, no return address. An audiocassette recording of a horrifying, soul-lacerating scream, followed by the sound of a childlike voice chanting: “Bad love. Bad love. Don’t give me the bad love.”
For Alex Delaware the tape is the first hint that he is about to enter a living nightmare. Others soon follow. There is disquieting laughter echoing over a phone line that suddenly goes dead, and a chilling act of trespass and vandalism.
He has become the target of a carefully orchestrated campaign of vague threats and intimidation. It is rapidly building to a crescendo as harassment turns to terror, mischief to madness.
With the help of his friend, LAPD detective Milo Sturgis, Alex uncovers a series of violent deaths that may follow a diabolical pattern. And if he can’t decipher the twisted logic of the stalker’s mind games, Alex will be the next to die.
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. That’s because a juror at the agonizing trial of a serial killer, Lucy survived the trauma only to be tormented by a recurring nightmare. There is a young child in the forest at night, watching a strange and furtive act.
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.
10. The Web
Three months in paradise, all expenses paid. It’s an invitation Alex Delaware can’t refuse.
Dr. Woodrow Wilson Moreland is a revered scientist and philanthropist on the tiny Pacific island of Aruk. He has invited Alex to his home to help him organize his papers for publication. It is a light workload leaving Alex plenty of time to enjoy a romantic interlude with Robin Castagna.
Quickly, however, secretive houseguests, frightening nocturnal visitors, and the elusive Dr. Moreland himself dim the pleasures of deep blue water and white sand.
The cases Moreland chooses to share seem unconnected. A patient driven to madness by a cruel, unspeakable act; a man who succumbed forty years ago to radiation poisoning after a nuclear blast; a young woman, brutally murdered, whose mutilated body was found on the beach just six months before. But Alex can’t help wondering what the good doctor is trying to tell him…and what Moreland’s real reason for inviting him to Aruk is.
Alex gets a little long-distance help from his friend LAPD detective Milo Sturgis. And as he probes, he comes to believe the answer lies hidden somewhere on Moreland’s vast estate.
Yet when he finally discovers the truth, the revelation will be more shocking than he could have imagined. And it will come too late to stem the tide of violence that threatens guilty and innocent alike on the lovely lost island of Aruk.
Now you know about all the books Jonathan Kellerman has written, and how best to begin your reading journey with his works. If you enjoy psychological suspense and fast-paced page-turners, you will be sure to enjoy reading the Jonathan Kellerman books in order.
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