Jonathan Kellerman was a child psychologist before becoming a full-time novelist. He is married to the writer Faye Kellerman and they live in Los Angeles with their four children.
Kellerman devises a psychologically complex, highly satisfying plot in this latest mystery (after Time Bomb ) to feature child psychologist Alex Delaware, although we wait too long for the best parts and although Delaware, his love life on hold, seems less emotionally present than in previous cases. Harvard-bound, 18-year-old heiress Melissa Dickinson, whom Delaware had successfully treated for anxiety 10 years earlier, calls him with concerns about leaving her wealthy mother, an agoraphobe. Years before Melissa's birth, Gina Dickinson Ramp had been disfigured by acid thrown for never-revealed reasons by a former lover, now out of prison and back in town. Widowed for many years, recently remarried and making progress in her own intensive therapy with a noted husband-and-wife team of behaviorial psychologists, Gina is still fragile. When she disappears, Melissa enlists Delaware's help and that of his friend, Milo Sturgis, on leave from the LAPD (for having slugged, on TV, a homophobic superior). Kellerman deftly handles the strings of his plot, keeping in question the plight of Gina and the identities of those wishing her ill, until final events make what came before seem inevitable. A brief reunion with his former lover Robin will leave readers hoping for a reconciliation in Delaware's next appearance. 150,000 first printing; major ad/promo. (Jan.)