Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware, #1)” as Want to Read:
When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware #1)

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  46,744 Ratings  ·  528 Reviews
Dr. Morton Handler practiced a strange brand of psychiatry. Among his specialties were fraud, extortion, and sexual manipulation. Handler paid for his sins when he was brutally murdered in his luxurious apartment. The police have no leads, but they do have one possible witness: seven-year-old Melody Quinn. It's psychologist Alex Delaware's job to try to unlock the terrible ...more
Published January 1st 1992 by Time Warner Paperbacks (first published April 1st 1985)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about When the Bough Breaks, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Jim No, not really, there is some mention of what happens in previous stories in subsequent stories, but it won't give any of the key plot points away I…moreNo, not really, there is some mention of what happens in previous stories in subsequent stories, but it won't give any of the key plot points away I don't think. For example one book makes reference to a couple of things happening that I presume happened in a previous story, but it just stated that they happened, not who the killer was or what happened. If you haven't read the book it refers, then the statement itself is pretty meaningless, except you know it must be in another book, because it's not explored or explained.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
May 22, 2016 Brina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75. I have become a fan of Faye Kellerman's Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus mystery series, so I decided to read her husband Jonathan's first book about Dr. Alex Delaware. Even though both series are about detectives, they are different in scope. Whereas Decker has been a cop for 20 years and looking to move up ranks, Delaware is a young, retired child psychologist who befriends a detective named Milo Sturgis and helps out on his cases. Additionally, Rina loves to get involved in Decker's cases, ...more
Bill  Kerwin

This novel—and this series--begins with child psychologist Alex Delaware enjoying a relaxed early retirement, a retirement fueled by burnout and precipitated by a shock. After weeks of interviews with a score of molested children in a particularly vicious pre-school case, Delaware returns to his office to find that their molester Stuart Hickle has killed himself--gun in mouth--on Delaware's own couch. Soon Alex's friend police detective Milo Sturgis coaxes him back for a simple consulting job, i
Dirk Grobbelaar
This wasn't the first Alex Delaware novel I'd read. I had the good fortune of being introduced to Jonathan Kellerman with Monster. And what an introduction it was.

In my experience, the Alex Delaware novels are a bit hit and miss. Some are really good. Some just aren't.
This novel, however, was a winner of the Edgar award, and being a bit of a fan I decided to start the series from scratch. All things considered, and keeping the character development of Alex Delaware in mind, that is probably the
James Thane
Aug 10, 2012 James Thane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime-fiction
This is the first book in Jonathan Kellerman's long-running series featuring Alex Delaware, a child psychologist. Burned out, Alex has retired from his practice at the age of thirty-three after consulting in a particularly unsettling case involving the young victims of a serial pedophile. The children are well on the road to recovery, but Alex is in desperate need of some down time.

But then Dr. Morton Handler, a psychiatrist, is brutally murdered along with his girlfriend in the apartment that t
aPriL does feral sometimes
I love Milo Sturgis. I like Dr. Alex Delaware. Kellerman is a great genre author, and I will recommend him highly to everyone unless you are a cozy reader or hung up on propriety. Alex breaks the rules in the manner of 1970's TV private eyes who were fighting the good fight, like in 'The Rockford Files' or 'Magnum P. I.' He is a star, someone who can do anything, except walk away from criminality. He makes mistakes, but he is one of those individuals who is very smart, athletic and lucky. Despit ...more
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
It's the first book in the long-running series, showing Alex Delaware just six months after his retirement, his mind scarred from trauma. Trying to get things kickstarted for his old bud, Milo (a homosexual homicide detective), enlists in the aid of the child psychologist for an especially troubling case. After following through with the favor of hypnotizing a small child, Alex finds he can't let go and continues forth with the investigation on his own.

It's a great introduction to the series, gi
Larry Bassett
Jan 19, 2014 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Jonathan Kellerman began the Alex Delaware series in 1985 with the 29th book in the series scheduled for publication in early 2014. This review is being written in January 2014. I have a bookshelf of Alex Delaware books as I went on a used book buying binge after I first discovered Kellerman. I read Monster about a year ago. It has taken me a while to get back to him.

I am reading a couple of “serious” books but began casting around for a book that might be a page turner for me, something that
Jane Stewart
3 stars. Slightly above average. Ok as a mystery.

The beginning was very good. I liked the way Alex investigated. Example, Alex needs to talk to a 7 year old girl who saw something. The girl’s mother is ignorant and poor and keeps the daughter on drugs to keep her quiet. Alex talks to the girl’s Doctor who prescribes the drugs. The Doctor won’t stop the drugs, he has a huge ego, he talks down to Alex. Alex befriends the girl. They go to the beach and a merry-go-round. There’s a whole mini story
Oct 16, 2013 X5-494 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read that this was the first Alex Delaware book Jonathan Kellerman had written (or at least published), I was actually looking forward to see how Alex and Milo met and became friends.

I thoroughly failed to realize that the operative word here was “book”. Not “case”. It was the first Alex Delaware book, not the first case for Alex and Milo. Their first case is actually mentioned, or better summarzied, but the story itself is about something different.

Jun 23, 2012 Georgia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Alex Delaware book published (I've read several...all out of sequence) ...and it was very good; great plot, gave me the backstories of why Alex got out of an active therapy practice, and explained more about Milo's struggle being a gay man in the police force. All of this information satisfied my need for a beginning of the series. One thing to remember is the setting is in the mid eighties; the author mentions a tape deck, a 'Vega' (I owned one of those!), and a number of othe ...more
Jan 16, 2009 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The very first Alex Delaware novel. Dr Delaware must unlock the secrets of the case from a child's mind, and it interacts with his own past. This single link in a 40 year conspiracy leads Dr Delaware to uncover unspeakable evil.
Ashley Dawn
Oct 12, 2011 Ashley Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Alex Delaware is a child psychologist who has seen enough violence and evil done to children to burn him out and break him down at the age of thirty-three. Now retired, he has plenty of money to live on while he ponders the question of what to do with his life. That is until his friend, a police detective, Milo Sturgis asks him for help on his latest case.
Alex’s interest is piqued by the case, but doesn’t plan to get overly involved, just help out. Then he met Melody Quinn, the seven-year-ol
Mukta Mohapatra
Jun 07, 2014 Mukta Mohapatra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book because I read similar authors. This is my first Kellerman/Delaware book and I wasn't aware that the Delaware series was as long as the Lucas Davenport series by Sandford.

I liked Alex as a character quite a bit. He is a young doctor who got burned out after treating some horrific molestation victims.

He is pulled back in after Milo recruits his help to solve a double homicide. Like most of the stars in this type of book, Alex gets too involved, goes rogue and tries to solve
Feb 20, 2011 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book started off well, but it lagged in the last third. One reason for the lag, I think, is because the sidekick, Milo, disappeared for a long time to follow his own lead, and when he returned, it was only mentioned in passing. Another reason for the lag was the reliance on expository dialogue by the author; a lot of it. The book was also dated by its mid-80's cliches.

The strongest part of the book was the relationship between Alex and Milo, and since I've told this becomes more integral in
Amanda Patterson
Dec 05, 2009 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alex Delaware was brilliant in the beginning. A child psychologist who went where no crime 'detective' had been before.
Melody Quinn is a seven-year-old witness to crimes committed by a psychiatrist who has manipulated and extorted his patients for years.
Jonathan Kellerman had a beautiful beginning with Alex.
Lisa Maddock
Oct 11, 2009 Lisa Maddock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read everything Kellerman wrote. If you like mysteries and the added element of a character that continues throughout, you'll love these - I really enjoyed them! I think there is a new one out now...
Amberly Reilly
Sep 06, 2014 Amberly Reilly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I've read from this particular author. I enjoy crime thrillers and so I truly thought I would love this series. It was tough to tackle the topics that this first book dredged up. Maybe that's why it made such a "stamp" on my mind reading 'first book outta the gate and this author is willing to push the limits and cover the tough stuff'. Tough stuff indeed. Actually it's more what everyone wants to hush up as quickly as possible. Pedophiles and the lengths they will go to ...more
Mar 28, 2014 Ami rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ami by: Kate (at Booklikes)
I like mystery books -- my childhood was filled with reading Agatha Christie and Famous Five. So mystery detective has always been close to my heart -- even after I found the glory of romance novels. Having said that, I admit that I don't follow a LOT of mystery books. I practically only read a couple of authors: Connelly, Crais, Deaver, Lehane ...

Jonathan Kellerman's "Alex Delaware" has always been that series that stays in my periphery. I know it's there but I am always reluctant to start read
Mar 05, 2013 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alex Delaware is a child psychologist, retired at the age of 34. Must be nice, huh? Except, he gets bored and finds a new zest for life after his friend Detective Milo Sturgis asks him to consult on a case. A prominent psychiatrist and his client/girlfriend have been murdered and a 7-year-old girl is the only witness. Alex’s involvement deepens when he discovers a link to a local home for orphaned and severely disabled children.
With more twists and turns than a theme park ride, Kellerman keeps
Jul 17, 2012 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, 2012
My book group has chosen the 7th book in this series for our next selection. So, of course, I had to start with book one. We'll see if I manage to make it to our actual chosen book. But, if the ones to follow are anything like this one, I shouldn't have any problem. I really enjoyed this one! It was gripping, with a strong, well-woven mystery that made me think, and some great characters. Alex Delaware is an interesting protagonist-- a genuinely good guy, very intelligent, but he has his flaws. ...more
Patricia Kurz
I know this is an oldie, and we cannot judge it by Kellerman's recent work, but really, it was a little too preposterous. ICK ALERT: There are scenes that describe graphic child sexual abuse here. There are words/phrases that would be unspeakable in today's sensitive times. But we cannot slight JK for that -- that was then and this is now.

No, my complaints are about the way the story unfolds. First there is some detective work that combines Milo & Alex, then Milo disappears and Alex is a psy
it was a thrillin' thriller. Remember having read this book many years ago, but when I started again, there was not even a vestige of memory. Thoroughly enjoyed the initial 3/4 of the book, last 50 pages were not that good, as is usual in my case whenever I read a mystery/thriller. The tension builds up, builds up and then goes flat. This is the first of the Alex Delaware series. Alex is a 32 year old jaded child psychologist who is in a deep funk and has retired to enjoy a life of solitude, whe ...more
In Jonathan Kellerman's stellar Alex Delaware mystery series debut, When the Bough Breaks, we were introduced to Alex Delaware, a burned out psychologist. For his first case as a police consultant, it became the toughest one of them yet. When Dr. Morton Handler was killed in his own home, Alex learned what kind of psychologist he was--the devious and sick kind--when he paid for his sins. With no leads, they had one potential witness, a seven-year-old girl named Melody Quinn. It was up for Alex t ...more
Jan 09, 2013 Angeli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been a long-time fan of Jonathan Kellerman ever since I received "Conspiracy Club" from my grandfather-in-law.

The Alex Delaware series was written several years before that, though, and some of the lapses in writing and plausibility are readily apparent compared to Kellerman's later works. However, Kellerman's work in the field as a psychologist really shine through in the Alex Delaware novels, so he truly does play well to his strengths and the old writer adage of "write what you know."

I f
Sep 27, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book in the series Alex Delaware. A psychologist and his girlfriend are brutally murdered and a seven year old child is the only one who has seen some men enter the appartment of the victims. However she appears to be traumatized. Alex Delaware, a wealthy psychologist who is bored with his early retirement, is dragged in the case by a police inspector with whom he has worked before. As the author is a psychologist himself, specialized in child'ren's issues, the story is very credible. Very ...more
Dennis D.
Jul 08, 2009 Dennis D. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: only those completists who want to go back to where the saga all began
This is the first book in the Alex Delaware series. I went back to the beginning here, after having received and read a couple of the later books. (If you've read some of my other reviews, you'll notice that this is a trend with me).

Jonathan Kellerman must have taken a couple of classes at the Kathy Reichs School of Unbelievable Coincidences before coming up with a couple of the plot twists in this one. And the child abuse ring is kind of a tired trope. But overall, this one wasn't awful. It jus
Aug 18, 2009 Shae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I honestly tried to like this book. Someone recc'd it and I thought I would give the series a go. Sadly, I won't be reading the rest of the books. For the first half of the book I kept wondering what Eve Dallas (from JD Robb's In Death series) would do. Then as the book progressed, I started wishing that Eve Dallas was there because some random psychologist was breaking all sorts of laws and doing really horrible things. I actually had to take a few minutes from the book because I was so angry a ...more
The Alex Delaware series is one of the first I read in this genre, probably 15 years ago. Of course, I started in the middle of the series and had yet to get around to the first books.

This was okay. I got a little bogged down in the mystery because a lot of the characters were similar to each other and I sometimes forgot who was being referred to. There was a lot of “the bad guy explains the entire scheme” at the end. However, it was worth it to see how Alex starts working for the police and the
Dec 11, 2012 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are so many long-running mystery/thriller series out there that honestly, I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised by this book and the main character. I enjoyed Alex Delaware and am actually interested in what happens to him and to see where his stories will take me. I also found the character of Milo to be quite intriguing and I am glad he will be coming back in the series.

The story was pretty suspenseful and I liked the twists and turns it took. On to finding the second book
Aug 27, 2014 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eveyone
Recommended to Sheila by: myself
I have always enjoyed Alexs Delaware series so far the ones I have read. Kellerman writes stories with murder, full of suspense and thriller. I have not read the series in order but I am going to continue reading them as I have so many of his books. At times it is a bit gruesome with all the kills however, it is a page turner.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
  • Milk and Honey (Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus, #3)
  • Ashes to Ashes (Kovac and Liska, #1)
  • The Coffin Dancer (Lincoln Rhyme, #2)
  • Chosen Prey (Lucas Davenport, #12)
  • Cruel & Unusual (Kay Scarpetta, #4)
Jonathan Kellerman was born in New York City in 1949 and grew up in Los Angeles. He helped work his way through UCLA as an editorial cartoonist, columnist, editor and freelance musician. As a senior, at the age of 22, he won a Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award for fiction.

Like his fictional protagonist, Alex Delaware, Jonathan received at Ph.D. in psychology at the age of 24, with a specialty in the t
More about Jonathan Kellerman...

Other Books in the Series

Alex Delaware (1 - 10 of 32 books)
  • Blood Test (Alex Delaware, #2)
  • Over the Edge (Alex Delaware, #3)
  • Silent Partner (Alex Delaware, #4)
  • Time Bomb (Alex Delaware, #5)
  • Private Eyes (Alex Delaware, #6)
  • Devil's Waltz (Alex Delaware, #7)
  • Bad Love (Alex Delaware, #8)
  • Self-Defense (Alex Delaware, #9)
  • The Web (Alex Delaware, #10)
  • The Clinic (Alex Delaware, #11)

Share This Book

“Assholes are like weeds, a bitch to get rid of and when you do another one grows back in its place.” 9 likes
“There were nights when I left the sessions physically and emotionally drained after hearing the anguish pour out like blood from a gaping wound. Don’t let anyone ever tell you different – psychotherapy is one of the most taxing endeavors known to mankind; I’ve done all sorts of work, from picking carrots in the scorching sun to sitting on national committees in paneled board rooms, and there’s nothing that compares to confronting human misery hour after hour and bearing the responsibility for easing that misery using only one’s mind and mouth. At its best it’s tremendously uplifting as you watch the patient open up, breathe, let go of the pain. At its worst is like surfing in a cesspool struggling for balance while being slapped with wave after putrid wave.” 8 likes
More quotes…