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Self-Defense (Alex Delaware #9)

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,881 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
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. A juror at the agonizing trial of a serial killer, Lucy survived the trauma only to be tormented by a recurring nightmare: a young child in the forest at night, watching ...more
Paperback, 511 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published January 1st 1994)
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The Golden Compass by Philip PullmanWicked by Gregory MaguireThe Reader by Bernhard SchlinkHigh Fidelity by Nick HornbyBlindness by José Saramago
Best Books of 1995
225th out of 227 books — 99 voters
Billy Straight by Jonathan KellermanWhen the Bough Breaks by Jonathan KellermanSacred and Profane by Faye KellermanMonster by Jonathan KellermanThe Burnt House by Faye Kellerman
The Best Of The Kellerman Novels
30th out of 42 books — 19 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Tk Good
Dec 25, 2010 Tk Good rated it liked it
I love Kellerman but this wasn't one of my favorites. The plot was weak and predictable and the story too long, I skipped most of the end when they're interviewing the bad guys, just didn't seem relevant. What I loved was the dialogue of old man Lowell - I don't think I've ever read anything so creatively cruel come out of a character's mouth. Ever. You have to admire someone who can come up with it! Really genius stuff.
Aug 24, 2015 Alisha rated it really liked it
Shelves: comfort-food
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*
As usual, Jonathan Kellerman writes a potent tale with his lead detective/psychologist sleuth team. Alex Delaware, renowned retired psychologist, is enlisted by his best friend, detective Milo Sturgis, to help recover a potentially hidden murder from the memory of Lucy Lowell. It's nice to see Delaware in personal clinical setting again, delving into intense emotional sessions to uncover a morbid mystery. Suspense is here as always, and some of the characters such as Lucy's father, are unearthly ...more
Aug 23, 2016 Susan rated it really liked it
The book was a good page turner. Described scenes from all my hangouts in California, especially Paradise Cove and the Sand Dollar. Good storyline, like able characters.
May 14, 2015 Gabe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well like the other books from this author, this one won't disappoint you if you enjoy psychanalyse combined with murder investigation, which is this author speciality.

Starting with what seems like a tormenting dream, a fuzzy nightmare inflicting a young woman's life and sleep patterns, it unfolds under our eyes a intricate case of a missing person that may turn to be a murder in the end.

With no official police investigation, just with our protagonist dedication and devotion to help his patient
Marc Wambolt
May 03, 2010 Marc Wambolt rated it liked it
I liked the beginning of this book. I was intrigued by the idea that the main character, Alex Delaware, was a clinical psychologist and a patient of his had just been on a jury that convicted a serial killer. Now she was having recurring dreams of seeing two men carrying a young woman into the forest. It had potential, but bogged down at one point and I think it would have been a better book if he had taken out about 100 pages. I did like it, but I only give it 3 stars.
Aug 30, 2014 Lynda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries, suspense
Concerned Detective Milo Sturgis directed a confused, fearful Lucy Lowell to his friend Dr. Alex Delaware for consultation. Lucy suffered from bad dreams after a stint as a juror in an intense trial of a serial killer. Unsure of the validity of her dreams about a murder and suspicions about her mental stability, Alex investigated the clues derived from the dreams. He discovered the complicated trail involved a splintered family, a retreat for artists, greed and jealousy - key components in a cov ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Joyce rated it really liked it
Alex Delaware takes on an adult woman as a patient, a rarity. She appears to be self-destructive, yet denies it. He begins to investigate her childhood based on information she reveals while hypnotized. This leads to a cast of characters that becomes a consuming interest for the reader. There are novelists, ex-convicts, Hollywood types and most of all, the siblings and family of the woman. The plot is intricate and absorbing. The writing, once again, excellent.
Jan 26, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery
I picked this up thinking it was new and then couldn't get over the fact that it seemed so familiar. Turns out, it's an oldy! I had read it before and that's why it seemed so much like "some other book I had read".

As always, I do like Jonathan Kellerman's writing style, his characters, and his mix of Alex's detective work vs. therapy work.

Jun 13, 2010 Melody rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery-suspense
Slighltly dissapointed. Jonathon Kellerman is usualy one of my faves but I had a hard time with this one at about page 450 or so. The book started off well but seemed to lose steam as Dr Delaware started his questioning of one of the female characters....I won't say who because I hate spoilers!!

I hope the other books I have by this author are better!!
*Audiobook* Honestly, this book was a little bit meh. The basic premise is that one of Alex Delaware's patients begins to experience a recurring dream that he suspects may be the memory of an actual crime. Delaware is able to connect her memory with a decades old disappearance of a young girl and the chase is on. The story is ripe with dysfunctional families and of course, a conspiracy or two. It wasn't terrible but I had a little trouble getting into this one for some reason. Maybe because the ...more
Feb 11, 2010 mark rated it liked it
Shelves: crime
I listened to this on cd. Well read, easy to listen to. Story told mostly by dialogue. Child psychologist turned detective, Alex Delaware walks into a room, describes it, what his subject is wearing and looks like, then has a conversation. Everything is explained in depositions at the end.
Aug 19, 2009 Nicole added it
Good book! I got it at a yard sale for a quarter, not realizing that it was part of a series. I love Dr. Alex Delaware....not as much as I love Dr. Alex Cross, but that's ok. This one was published in 1995 and it's interesting to see detective work without the use of the Net or cell phones.
aPriL is sometimes feral
I think that this story is very unique - not so much because of a dream that turns out to be a clue to a repressed memory (which totally happens for real, by the way), but because of the revealing look into how it was in the California Art/Movie/Drug scene. Probably still is this way.
Mukta Mohapatra
Feb 12, 2016 Mukta Mohapatra rated it really liked it
Alex doesn't usually have adult patients, but when his best friend Milo asks him to help Lucy, a juror on the recent Boogeyman case, he obliges. Lucy has a recurring nightmare about watching her father and some other men burying a woman in the forest. Little do they know, her nightmare may be a memory.

When Lucy is found with her head in the oven, Alex decides he must take her on as a full time patient. She insists that she would never try to kill herself and someone is trying to killer her.

As us
May 18, 2011 Jill rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: psychogical thriller, mystery, jonathan kellerman
Jonathan Kellerman's early works are just okay. I thought this book was slightly better than the Clinic eventhough the Clinci was newer than this one. It had an intersting storyline about his patient the sleepwalker.
Kim j
Feb 26, 2012 Kim j rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kellermam
I just love Alex & Milo. This series is great & what psych does not delve into dreams? Love it & such a fan. I want more!
Sep 04, 2009 Katie rated it liked it
A good page-turning crime fiction book. The perfect light-reading antidote for some heavier stuff I've been reading recently.
Jan 18, 2009 Julie rated it it was ok
Self-Defense (Alex Delaware) by Jonathan Kellerman (2002)
Jun 10, 2012 Patrick rated it liked it
better than average but feels like standard fare.
Jamie Lloyd
Apr 05, 2011 Jamie Lloyd rated it really liked it
Shelves: alex-delaware
Compound book - 60s girl disappears
Pat Bostwick
dr. alex delaware 1995
Lynn Calvin
ereader ebook
Jan 26, 2016 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book! I liked Lucy and how she came to meet with Alex, experiencing dream that seem to hint at a real event that happened 21 years ago, when she was 4. (view spoiler) ...more
Feb 09, 2015 Kevin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well if you are a Jonathan Kellerman fan I would advise you to skip this book! I had read all of his books feverishly up till this one. This book has traveled with me for 17 years during a marriage, a divorce, 3 jobs, lots of trips, finishing numerous other books, finding other authors I enjoyed, and bottom line took up a huge part of my life. Did you ever have one of those books that stalled you, one that stalemated in your life, and set on your nightstand for years? Well this was the one for m ...more
Jan 03, 2015 Dominique rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-thriller
I am back to reading a crime novel again. A genre that will keep my mind off of the fact I don't understand classic literature anymore. I did not even pick this book myself, because I won it at work (I love a job where you can get books as a reward, it makes me work harder). Despite all that, Jonathan Kellerman's Self-Defence is highly entertaining.

Apparently, he has a whole series of Alex Delaware novels. Delaware is a child psychologist who occasionally works for the LAPD and I just happened t
Kara Jorges
Dec 20, 2012 Kara Jorges rated it liked it
Psychologist Alex Delaware takes on a new patient when a policeman friend refers him to a young woman who served on the jury of a serial murderer’s trial. Lucy Lowell has been having a recurring dream wherein she is four years old, in the woods, watching three men carry a young woman who appears to be sleeping. When Lucy also starts sleepwalking, she goes to visit Dr. Delaware, who begins investigating the events in the dream.

Lucy’s father is M. Bayard Lowell, a celebrated author turned recluse
Kari Ramirez
Feb 04, 2013 Kari Ramirez rated it liked it
This review was first posted on my blog at

Boy, Dr. Delaware is always finding trouble!

For some reason Dr. Delaware's forays into crime solving never bug me the way Kay Scarpetta's do. I don't know why. Maybe it's because you get a good sense that Delaware is going that extra mile for his patients. He really wants to help them, really wants to make their lives better, their problems go away. Plus, I think he's a sucker for a good mystery.

I liked the story quite
Nov 03, 2008 Nanosynergy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kellerman fans.
(Book 9 of author's Alex Delaware/Milo Sturgis series.) This is one of Kellerman's better books in this series. The narrator of this audiobook version, Alexander Adams, is very good. The plot has many twists and turns, as well as a largely interesting cast of dysfunctional characters. Milo Sturgis is further fleshed out through his friendship with Lucy Lowell. He befriends Lucy after she serves as a juror for the trial of a vicious murderer. The trial causes Lucy to develop nightmares. These tur ...more
Apr 21, 2012 Matthew rated it liked it
Good read
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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
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Other Books in the Series

Alex Delaware (1 - 10 of 32 books)
  • When the Bough Breaks (Alex Delaware, #1)
  • 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)
  • The Web (Alex Delaware, #10)
  • The Clinic (Alex Delaware, #11)

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“If you ask me, psychopaths are more talented than the rest of us... but they're still fucking psychopaths.” 47 likes
“Just because others have it worse doesn’t mean you have to suffer in silence.” 13 likes
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