Skip to main content
Displaying 1 of 1
The wedding guest : an Alex Delaware novel
Please select and request a specific volume by clicking one of the icons in the 'Availability' section below.
Author Notes
Jonathan Kellerman is one of the world's most popular authors. He has brought his expertise as a child psychologist to 16 consecutive bestselling novels of suspense, including The Butcher's Theater, Jerusalem, and Billy Straight and 32 previous Alex Delaware novels, translated into two dozen languages. He is also the author of numerous essays, short stories, and scientific articles, two children's books, and three volumes on psychology, including Savage Spawn: Reflections on Violent Children. <p> (Publisher Provided) Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City on August 9, 1949 and raised in Los Angeles. He received a B.A. in Psychology from UCLA and a Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Southern California. At the age of 22, he won the Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction. <p> He has served as Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Psychology at the School of Medicine at USC and as a consultant to the State of California, the U.S. Army and the Superior Court of Los Angeles. He is the founding director of the Psychosocial Program at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. The first books he published were medical texts: Psychological Aspects of Childhood Cancer (1980) and Helping the Fearful Child (1981). <p> His first novel, When the Bough Breaks (1985), was made into a television movie and received the Edgar Allan Poe and Anthony Boucher awards. He has also written many bestselling crime novels featuring the Alex Delaware series, children's books, and nonfiction works. His fiction book, co-authored with son Jesse Kellerman, The Golem of Hollywood, made the New York Times bestseller list in 2014. His recent books include The Murderer's Daughter, Breakdown, and The Wedding Guest. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)
First Chapter or Excerpt
CHAPTER 1 No Regrets. Stupid name for a signature cocktail. Brears had found the recipe online, this tequila-Baileys thing. Seven shots plus the deejay speeding everything up plus the pink wine Leanza had drunk before the ceremony were killing her bladder. When she got to the ladies' room, a line trailed out into the hall. Pathetic little ladies' room, like two stalls, because of what the venue had been before. She took her place at the back. Her bladder felt like it was gonna explode. No Regrets. As if. Last week at the bachelorette in Vegas, Brears was all about regrets. After ten shots of her signature bachelorette cocktail, this rum and some sweet orange thing with bubbles in it. The week before there was a signature bridal shower cocktail, champagne and grapefruit soda and a toothpick with a little plastic bride on top. Everything had to be "bespoke" for Brears, since she'd learned the word, she couldn't stop using it. Once her mom or dad died there'd probably be a signature funeral cocktail. At the bachelorette, Brears was throwing back shots faster than anyone while doing a man-spread on the sofa in the suite and letting out artisan shrimp pizza burps that smelled like the bottom of a fish tank. Then she started talking, looking like she was gonna cry. Plenty of regrets about Garrett, what the eff am I doing? Everyone telling her what a great guy he was, she was doing the right thing. Brears drinks, burps, looks like she's falling asleep but she isn't. Coupla more shots, she's all I love Garrett so so so so much. I think. Then she did cry. But right then the hot-boy strippers came prancing in like ponies. Fireman / cop / cowboy / pool boy. Stripped naked in seconds. Brears had no regrets about them. Leanza was sure Garrett, who really was nice but kind of smart-dumb pathetic, had no clue. His signature cocktail wasn't. Some kind of pale ale made from oats? That is not a cocktail. Leanza's stomach pressed down and moved around weird. Like she'd swallowed a rat and it was chewing on her bladder. The line hadn't budged since she got there. Two old women, had to be friends of Brears's or Garrett's parents, got in line behind her and started talking about what a lovely affair it was. Considering the venue. Did you know? Giggle giggle. Old bitches shouldn't giggle, they sounded like maniac squirrels. Maybe that was the problem with the ladies' room, some grandma not able to get the plumbing going . . . then oh, shit, there was Mom, barely able to walk, her boobs hanging out as she wobbled toward the line and Leanza knew she'd want to have one of those girl-to-girl talks that proved to Mom she was still young . . . oh, God, she was going to explode. Then she remembered. Upstairs, where she and the other bridesmaids had sat in a crowded room and did their hair and makeup--all by themselves, you'd think Brears would share her stylists but no--upstairs there was also a bathroom. Leanza hadn't used it but Teysa had, Leanza remembered because Teysa came back with the bottom of her dress all flipped up in back and Leanza had joked you look like you just took it in the backside and Teysa had laughed and Leanza had fixed her. Problem was, the stairs were all the way on the other side of the building. Probably some office space for when it used to be a strip joint. Could she make it back there without totally exploding? Would she get up there and then find someone else had figured it out first and then she'd have to come back here and go to the end of the line? The only other choice was sneaking out into the back alley and squatting and just doing it. Some dude saw her, his lucky day, the way she felt, she could care less. But the alley was even farther than upstairs and to get there she'd have to run all the way around the building and then out back. No way, it was either stay where it wasn't moving or make a break for the stairs. And in a second Mom would see her. Muttering, "Eff it," she ran. The old ladies behind her said something rude. Eff them, they were lucky they weren't getting sprayed. Barely able to move her legs without leaking, Leanza climbed the shaky, creaky, dirty-looking stairs. What a dump, Brears's idea of creative. Holding her breath and fighting to maintain control, she finally made it to the top and saw the door up ahead and to the right marked Employees Only. No one waiting here, if she was lucky, no one inside. She charged the door. Open! I am Warrior Princess! Without bothering to close the door, she threw herself in. Gross stinky place. No window, a gross stinky closet. One urinal, one stall. Figures. She yanked on the door of the stall, was already pulling down her pantyhose and her thong when she saw the girl. Sitting on top of the lid of a closed toilet, her head dropped, dark hair falling to one side like a curtain. Dressed in a tight red dress and gold do-me sandals with heels as long and skinny as a lead pencil. Leanza hadn't seen her at the ceremony or the dancing, didn't recognize her, probably someone from Garrett's side. Leanza said, "Excuuuse me." The girl didn't answer. Or move. Or do anything. Stupid bitch. How many No Regrets had she tossed back? Eff her, this was a toilet not an armchair, do your stoner thing somewhere else. Leanza took hold of the girl's bare arm. Cold skin. Like not . . . human. She said, "Hey!" really loud. Repeated it. No answer. Cupping the bottom of the girl's chin--it was even colder than the arm--she lifted the drunk bitch's face, ready to slap her awake. Brown eyes as expressionless as plastic buttons stared back at her. The girl's face was a weird gray color. So were her lips, gray with some blue around the edges, hanging loose, you could see some teeth. Dried drool trickled down both sides. Then Leanza saw it: the circle around the girl's neck. Like a horrible red choker necklace but this was no jewelry, this cut into the skin, red and gritty around the edges. Leanza knew she was being stupid but her mouth said, "Hey, c'mon, wake up." She knew because she was the one who'd found her grandmother after the heart attack. Ten years old, a Sunday, walking into Grandma's bedroom wanting to show her a drawing she'd made. Bottle of ginger beer spilled onto the comforter. The same plastic-button eyes. The same gray skin. Gripped by nausea, Leanza backed away from the girl. In the process, she kicked the girl's leg and the girl slid off the lid and down. Flopping as she continued to slide, her head making a weird thumpy noise as it hit the filthy floor. Sliding toward Leanza. Leanza scurried back. Staring at the dead girl, she said, "Eff it," and let her bladder do whatever it felt like. CHAPTER 2 Sometimes Milo briefs me before a crime scene, sometimes he waits until I get there. This time he sent me an email attachment along with an address on Corner Avenue in West L.A. This is for context; get here asap if you can. His call had come in at ten oh five p.m. By ten fifteen, I was dressed and ready to go. Robin was reading in bed. I kissed her, didn't have to explain. Two minutes later, I was cruising south on Beverly Glen. I turned west on Sunset, found the boulevard free and clear until a red light stopped me at Veteran near the northwestern edge of the U.'s campus. Activating my phone, I checked out the attachment. E-vite. Gray lettering over a skin-rash-pink background. The Thing: Brearely and Garrett are finally doing it!!!!! Why You: Hey, they want you there!!!!! The Place: The Aura The Theme: Saints and Sinners The Dress: Everyone needs to be hot! I'd thrown on a navy turtleneck, jeans, and rubber-soled shoes that could tolerate bloodstains, wore my LAPD consultant badge on a chain. Dead bodies and the hubbub they attract call for unobtrusive, not hot. I took Veteran south, drove through Westwood and into West L.A. Corner's not far from the West L.A. station, a stubby, easily overlooked street that paper-cuts Pico Boulevard as it hugs the 405 overpass. The address put the scene north of Pico, on a freeway-deafened strip of abused asphalt. Street lighting was irregular, creating leopard-spot shadows. I passed a scrap yard specializing in English cars, a plumbing supply warehouse, a few auto mechanics, and an unmarked warehouse before reaching the final building, just short of a chain-link dead end. Two-story stucco rectangle painted dark, maybe black, no windows. A crudely painted sign topped a slab metal door. Thunderbolts above assertive lettering. Marquee bulbs rimmed the sign. Some were still working. THE AURA Alley to the left, parking lot to the right, now yellow-taped. Fifty or so vehicles sat behind the tape. Behind them was a generator-fed trailer that chuffed. Open door, a cook in a white tunic: pop-up kitchen. Outside the tape was a smaller grouping of wheels: Milo's unmarked bronze Impala, a white Ford LTD that I recognized as Moe Reed's current ride, another Ford, maroon, that I couldn't identify, a gray Chevy. Four detectives for this one. Plus the eight uniforms who'd arrived in a quartet of black-and-whites. Two of the squad cars were topped by clinking cherry bars. Off to the right, the white vans, crime lab and coroner's, a pair of ominous twins. No coroner's investigator car. Come and gone. Easy identification or none at all. Despite all the squad cars, the only uniform in sight rested her hip against the driver's door of a blinking cruiser. Working her phone, looking serene. As I walked toward her, she gave me a glance. Usually I get stopped and have to show I.D. She said, "Hey, Dr. Delaware." I'd seen her somewhere; the site of someone else's misfortune. I said, "Hi, Officer . . . Stanhope." Her phone screen was filled with kittens wearing funny hats. She clicked without self-consciousness. "Cute, huh? Around the back, Doc, it's pretty crazy." Slowly spreading smile. "Guess that's why you're here." The remaining seven uniforms were walking among the parked cars, copying license plates. Milo watched the process from a rear metal door. His arms were crossed atop the swell of his gut. His height, his bulk, and the scowl on his face fit the image of club bouncer. His droopy brown suit, tragic tie the color of pesto sauce, once-white wash-'n'-wear shirt, and tan desert boots didn't. He lowered his arms. "Thanks for coming. Got a hundred people inside, a whole bunch of them boozed up. The plan is to settle them down, then Moe and Sean and Alicia Bogomil will try to get info. You get what I meant about context." "A wedding?" I said. "I do." He stared at me. Cracked up. I said, "Interesting venue. Looks like a low-rent strip joint." "That's 'cause it once was. Before that it was some kind of church." "Saints and Sinners." "Huh?" "The wedding theme." "Doubtful that's the reason, Alex. I've met the lovely couple, don't see them as that abstract. C'mon, let me show you where the big sin happened." A building-wide passageway carpeted in tomato-red low-pile took us past an open space. Parquet dance floor centering round tables for ten. Paper plates and a single scrawny sunflower on each table. To the left were a long buffet table, three portable bars, a photo booth, and a bank of videogames. Empty red plastic cups dotted the floor along with crumbs and stains. Plastic streamers drooped from the ceiling. Four polyethylene columns attempting to look like plaster segmented the walk space from the party space. The remnants of a strip joint evoking Caligula. The tables in the main room were occupied by sober-faced people dressed for celebration. Most were in their thirties, a few were old enough to be the parents of thirty-year-olds. A rear stage held a deejay setup. Obstructing a clear view of the stage were three chrome stripper poles, one bedecked with plastic sunflowers on unlikely vines. Lacking music and dim lighting, the room had the sad, rancid feel of every after-hours club. A bit of conversational hum drifted toward us, unable to compete with a heavy, gray silence. Detective Moe Reed, with the powerlifter's build and youth of an actual bouncer, stood watch on a third of the tables. Detective Sean Binchy, tall, lanky, and baby-faced under ginger spiked hair, was in charge of the next group. Last was Alicia Bogomil, just turned forty, with gimlet eyes and knife-edged features. The ponytailed long hair I'd seen when I met her was replaced by a no-nonsense bun. Milo and I had encountered Alicia when she worked private security at a hotel where a patient of mine had been murdered. She'd been a real cop in Albuquerque for seven years, moved to California for a romance that didn't work out, was languishing when she helped us with info. She'd mentioned joining LAPD to Milo. I had no idea there'd been follow-through. No reason for me to know; for nearly three months, there hadn't been a murder where Milo felt I'd be useful. As we passed the partygoers, a few looked up. The slumping posture and resigned eyes of passengers stranded in an airport. I said, "How long ago did it happen?" Milo said, "Victim was found at nine fifty, probably an hour before, give or take." He glanced at the crowd. A couple of people looked over hopefully. As Milo continued to walk, their heads drooped. "Meet my new alter ego: Officer Buzzkill." We continued to the end of the walkway, hooked left as if we were exiting through the front door, then he made another left and began trudging up a flight of grimy stairs. I said, "Up to the VIP area?" "Doesn't look like it ever was one, nothing pimped-up about the second floor." "Maybe back in the day this place was a pioneer of income equality." He huffed and began climbing the stairs. At the top, a third left took us down a narrow, low-ceilinged hallway. Four doors, three of them closed. A suited, gloved, and masked crime scene tech squatted near the open door. Beyond her was a small bathroom. Urinal and sink to the left, wooden stall straight ahead. The floor and walls were inlaid with yellowish tiles that had once been white. Cramped, windowless space. A mélange of foul odors. The stall door was propped open. A dark-haired young woman lay facing us on the floor. Late twenties to early thirties, wearing a blood-red, one-shoulder dress that had ridden up to mid-thigh. Pantyhose trailed up to what looked like red bicycle shorts. She was diminished by death but still beautiful, with smooth skin and delicate features. Hints of cream in her skin where the terminal pallor hadn't set in. Excerpted from The Wedding Guest: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
Fiction/Biography Profile
Alex Delaware (Male), Psychologist, Police consultant,
Milo Sturgis (Male), Police lieutenant, Homicide detective, Gay, Alex's best friend; works for the Special Case department;
Young adults
Unidentified bodies
Murder investigations
Los Angeles, California - West (U.S.)
Time Period
2000s -- 21st century
Large Cover Image
Trade Reviews

  New York Times Review

HAVING FUN? FEELIN' GROOVY? A new novel by Lars Kepler will wipe that smile off your face. STALKER (Knopf, $27.95) opens with a gruesome crime scene ("a display of extraordinary brutality," in Neil Smith's blunt translation from the Swedish) and becomes more explicit as it creeps along to its conclusion ("suddenly his head rolls over"). But that's the way it goes with Lars Kepler, a pseudonym for the husband and wife team of Alexandra Coelho Ahndoril and Alexander Ahndoril, who have a taste for the macabre and a surefire recipe for the lurid serial-killer thriller. The essential component of their formula is a worthy villain, someone just like the sieko here, who shoots videos of unsuspecting women to study at his leisure ("He takes his time, enjoys himself"). Once he's whipped himself up into a froth, this merciless madman returns to claim his prey with another horrific murder. The sadistic twist here is that he sends the videos of his future victims to the National Crime headquarters in Stockholm, daring the police to outwit him before he kills again. Margot Silverman, a police expert on serial killers, spree killers and stalkers, is properly worked up by these taunts, which also prods into action Joona Linna, a living legend in crime circles and the heavyweight of the Kepler series. The third member of the team is Erik Maria Bark, a specialist in disaster trauma and an authority in clinical hypnotherapy, who treats us to an impressive example of his skills ("The only thing you're listening to is my voice ... "). This is not a book for anyone on heart medication. Kepler is a virtuoso at delivering scenes of suspense, proving it here with an unnerving sequence in which a woman senses the silent killer who is stalking her. He also loves to drop severed body parts into a story, even when it isn't strictly necessary to advance the plot. But that's the deal with Kepler: If you want the thrills, you've got to expect the chills. PETER ROBINSON writes the kind of mysteries they don't write anymore: smart, civilized whodunits that are intellectually challenging, emotionally engaging and always discreet. Can you imagine a cop who concludes a suspect interview by saying: "Sorry to have bothered you at dinnertime. And I apologize if some of our questions caused you discomfort." That gentlemanly policeman is Alan Banks, a Yorkshire homicide detective who appears in CARELESS LOVE (Morrow/HarperCollins, $26.99), his 25th outing in the series dedicated to his sleuthing. No one expects cops to be au courant with the latest fashions. Nonetheless, Banks knows that a young woman found dead at the scene of an auto accident would not get all dolled up and neglect to take her handbag, and that a man who supposedly fell to his death in a ravine would not have gone for a stroll on Tetchley Moor wearing an expensive suit. The double-sided puzzle, which strikes Banks as "a three-pipe problem," involves, among other things, a sex-trafficking racket. But we also appreciate the well-drawn women, the keen character analysis and, of course, the company of a true gentleman. Wearing red to a wedding reception might seem rude, but wearing red while dead seems downright uncouth. The bride certainly doesn't take it very well when a dead woman in a red dress spoils her big day in THE WEDDING GUEST (Ballantine, $28.99), Jonathan Kellerman's latest mystery featuring Alex Delaware. A child psychologist who is often consulted by the Los Angeles Police Department, Delaware has no children to tend to here, but he does find a lot of childish grownups at the Aura, the former strip joint Brearley and Garrett Burdette whimsically chose for their "Saints and Sinners"-themed party. Although the corpse is admired for her fashion sense - "The dress is Fendi, the shoes are Manolo, and the hair is awesome" - no one seems to know who she is. This means Delaware has a suspect pool of about 100 people, from the mother of the bride ("Botoxed as smooth as a freshly laundered bedsheet") to the busboys. One-on-one interviews are Kellerman's strong suit, so expect some shrewd instant analyses and unwittingly funny observations - like "Destroying a wedding has a personal feeling." "No crazy thoughts allowed," promises the diarist who narrates THE SILENT PATIENT (Celadon, $26.99), a predictable if disturbing first novel by Alex Michaelides. Don't fall for that one; there are plenty of crazy thoughts - and crazier events - in this psychological thriller. The two main characters, both inclined to craziness, are extremely well matched. Alicia Berenson appeared to be a happily married woman when she tied her husband to a chair and shot him five times in the face. Why she did it remains a mystery, because she never spoke again. Theo Faber, her psychotherapist at the institution where she is locked up, seems normal enough at first. And it's obvious that he's giving it his all. But Alicia is a tough nut to crack - "I know all this sounds crazy," she admits in her diary - and therapy increasingly becomes a battle between crazy and crazier. Marilyn STASIO has covered crime fiction for the Book Review since 1988. Her column appears twice a month.

  Publishers Weekly Review

At the start of Edgar winner Kellerman's workmanlike 34th whodunit featuring L.A. psychologist Alex Delaware (after 2018's Night Moves), a guest at a wedding held at a former strip joint is looking for a bathroom when she stumbles across a female corpse. During the subsequent police investigation, none of the wedding attendees admits to knowing the victim, who was drugged with an injection of fentanyl in her neck before being garroted. Alex and his LAPD friend, Lt. Milo Sturgis, follow predictable lines of inquiry, including tracing the strip joint's former owner and determining whether anyone hated the bride or groom enough to ruin the celebration. They eventually identify the victim as 31-year-old Suzanne DaCosta, but she had no known links to the newlyweds. Some possibly related deaths include one that Alex and Milo learn of by pure chance when a Polish expat working in the coroner's office informs them of a murder in her native country, whose m.o. matches that of DaCosta. Kellerman has done better both with plotting and with bringing the reader inside the heads of his characters. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * Psychologist Alex Delaware and detective Milo Sturgis unravel a shocking crime at a raucous wedding reception in this gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling master of suspense.<br> <br> "Jonathan Kellerman's psychology skills and dark imagination are a potent literary mix." --Los Angeles Times <br> <br> LAPD Lieutenant Milo Sturgis is a fine homicide detective, but when he needs to get into the mind of a killer, he leans on the expertise of his best friend, the brilliant psychologist Dr. Alex Delaware. While Sturgis has a knack for piecing together the details of a crime, Delaware can decipher the darkest intents driving the most vicious of perpetrators. And there's no better place for the doctor's analytical skills to shine than a rowdy hall full of young men and women intoxicated on life and lust . . . and suddenly faced with the specter of death.<br> <br> Summoned to a run-down former strip joint, Delaware and Sturgis find themselves crashing a wild Saints and Sinners-themed wedding reception. But they're not the only uninvited guests. A horrified bridesmaid has discovered the body of a young woman, dressed to impress in pricey haute couture and accessorized with a grisly red slash around her neck. What's missing is any means of identification, or a single partygoer who recognizes the victim. The baffled bride is convinced the stranger snuck in to sabotage her big day--and the groom is sure it's all a dreadful mistake. But Delaware and Sturgis have a hundred guests to question, and a sneaking suspicion that the motive for murder is personal. Now they must separate the sinners from the saints, the true from the false, and the secrets from those keeping them. The party's over--and the hunt for whoever killed it is on.<br> <br> "As usual, [Delaware and Sturgis] form a formidable team. Also as usual, the characters here are varied and described with gritty clarity, and the puzzle facing the duo involves a delightful mix of L.A. culture, this time from its dive bars to its much more serious side."-- Booklist
Librarian's View
Displaying 1 of 1