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Doctor Death (Alex Delaware)
ISBN 0316857521 / 9780316857529 / 0-316-85752-1
Publisher Little, Brown
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Dr Eldon Mate, aka Doctor Death, has been the bane of the Los Angeles DA's existence, the bÍte noir of all opposed to assisted suicide and the angel of mercy to countless "travellers" who have found their reward via Mate's dubious vocation. He's also turned up in the back of his van, attached to his own death-dealing "Humanitron" machine and too far away from most of his blood and a certain external organ.
Enter Milo Sturgis, LA's only openly gay homicide detective and for the 14th time in 15 years (1985's award-winning When the Bough Breaks through to 1999's Monster), enter also his good friend, child psychologist and LAPD consultant Dr Alex Delaware. Unbeknown to Sturgis, however, is a potentially case-stymieing doctor-patient conflict of interest. The mother of one of Delaware's young patients' was the beneficiary (or victim, depending upon your point of view) of Dr Death's services. The father, Richard Doss, is firmly in the latter camp, giving Delaware ample pause for reflection:
After hearing the details of the murder, I felt better. The butchery didn't seem like Richard's style. Though how sure of that could I be? Richard hadn't disclosed any more about himself than he'd wanted to. In control, always in control. One of those people who crowds every room he enters. Maybe that had been part of what led his wife to seek out Eldon Mate.Maybe. But the fact is that there's no shortage of motivated suspects from both within and outside the late doctor's circle of influence. And as usual, Jonathan Kellerman (himself a child psychologist and recognised authority in childhood psychopathology) guides Delaware's engaging first-person narrative with expertise, keeps Detective Sturgis real and rudders his taut story to its satisfying end with sharp, true-to-the-ear dialogue. With Dr Death, Kellerman's legion of Delaware fans will be very well pleased and first-timers will almost certainly join the legion. --Michael Hudson, Amazon.com [via]