Джонатан Келлерман: Serpentine

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Джонатан Келлерман Serpentine
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Serpentine: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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**Psychologist Alex Delaware and detective Milo Sturgis search for answers to a brutal, decades-old crime in this electrifying psychological thriller from the #1** New York Times **bestselling master of suspense.** LAPD homicide lieutenant Milo Sturgis is a master detective. He has a near-perfect solve rate and he's written his own rulebook. Some of those successes—the toughest ones—have involved his best friend, the brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But Milo doesn't call Alex in unless cases are "different." This murder warrants an immediate call: Milo's independence has been compromised as never before, as the department pressures him to cater to the demands of a mogul. A hard-to-fathom, mega-rich young woman obsessed with reopening the coldest of cases: the decades-old death of the mother she never knew. The facts describe a likely loser: a mysterious woman found with a bullet in her head in a torched Cadillac that has overturned on infamously treacherous Mulholland Drive. No physical evidence, no witnesses, no apparent motive. And a slew of detectives have already worked the case and failed. But as Delaware and Sturgis begin digging, the mist begins to lift. Too many coincidences. Facts turn out to be anything but. And as they soon discover, very real threats lurking in the present. This is Delaware/Sturgis at their best: traversing the beautiful but forbidding place known as Los Angeles and exhuming the past in order to bring a vicious killer to justice.

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Serpentine is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2021 by Jonathan Kellerman

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

Ballantine and the House colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Kellerman, Jonathan, author.

Title: Serpentine: an Alex Delaware novel/Jonathan Kellerman. Description: First edition. | New York: Ballantine Books, [2021] | Series: Alex Delaware

Identifiers: LCCN 2020012952 (print) | LCCN 2020012953 (ebook) | ISBN 9780525618553 (hardcover; acid-free paper) | ISBN 9780525618560 (ebook)

Subjects: LCSH: Delaware, Alex (Fictitious character)—Fiction. | Sturgis, Milo (Fictitious character)—Fiction. | Police—California—Los Angeles—Fiction.

Classification: LCC PS3561.E3865 S47 2021 (print) | LCC PS3561.E3865 (ebook) | DDC 813/.54—dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/​2020012952

LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/​2020012953

Ebook ISBN 9780525618560


Cover design: Scott Biel

Cover art: trekandshoot/Getty Images




Title Page


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38

Chapter 39

Chapter 40

Chapter 41

Chapter 42

Chapter 43

Chapter 44


By Jonathan Kellerman

About the Author


My best friend, a seasoned homicide detective, is a master of discontent.

Some say Milo Sturgis enjoys the cold comfort of a sour mood.

Grumbling, grimacing, and mumbled curses peak during the muddled middle of murder investigations, when promising leads break their promises. He always gets past it; his solve rate is near-perfect. Which is why his bosses tolerate the biliousness, messages ignored, memos tossed in the trash unread.

I’ve come to think of Milo as allergic to obedience, wonder if it’s rooted in his rookie days when gay cops didn’t “exist” in the department and he had to look over his shoulder and write his own rulebook.

But I could be wrong. Temperament’s a strong factor in determining personality so it could just be the way he is. I wonder what his baby pictures look like. Imagine him as one of those infants who look as though they’ve been weaned on sour pickles.

Like a lot of things, we don’t talk about it.

He doesn’t call me in on all of his cases, just the ones he terms “different” once he’s gotten his bearings. This time, he didn’t wait.

I picked up his phone message when I returned from an eight a.m. run up Beverly Glen. “Misery lusts for company, I’m coming over. If it’s a problem, text me.”

I left the door unlocked and headed for the shower. Before I took two steps, the bell rang.

He’d called from the road.


He barreled through, convex gut leading the way, head lowered, bulky shoulders piled up around his neck like a muscular shawl.

A charging bull if a bull could find an aloha shirt that fit.

He took a moment to stoop and pat the head of my little French bulldog, Blanche, murmured, “At least someone’s smiling,” and continued toward the kitchen.

Blanche cocked her head and looked up at me, expecting clarification. When I shrugged and followed him in, she gave a world-weary sigh and padded along.

Milo’s usual thing is to raid the fridge and assemble snacks worthy of construction permits. This time he filled a coffee cup, sat down heavily at the table, and tugged at the aloha shirt as if aerating his torso. The shirt was sky-blue polyester patterned inexplicably with cellos and bagels. He wore it tucked into baggy khaki cargo pants that puddled over scuffed desert boots.

My true love is a master artisan. She’d designed the kitchen to be sunlit from the south, and this morning’s glow was kind to Milo’s pallid, pockmarked face. But nothing could mask the cherry-sized lumps rolling up and down his jawline.

I filled a mug and settled across from him. “Now I’m scared.”

“By what?”

I pointed to his cup. “No food.”

“Sorry for defying your expectations.” His lips curled but the end product wasn’t a smile. “Maybe I had a big breakfast? Maybe I’m showing discretion?”


“That was a shrink okay if I’ve ever heard one—which is fine, I need therapy.”

I said nothing.

He said, “There it is, the old strategic-silence bit…sorry, I’ll dial it down.” He breathed in and out. Pressed mitt-like palms together. “Namaste or whatever. Glad I caught you.” Sip. “Hoping you’re free today.” Sip. “Are you?”

“Appointments from two to five.”

“That’ll work.” He picked up his cup, put it down. “I plead guilty to acute petulance. But it’s called for.”

“Tough case.”

“It should be so simple.” Sausage fingers drummed the table. Another long inhale–exhale. “Okay, here’s the deal. Just got a mega-loser shoved in my face like I’m a goddamn rookie. Thirty-six-year-old unsolved. We’re talking freezer burn.”

“There’s a new cold-case campaign?”

“No, there’s just this. Listen to the chain of command, Alex. An equally rich buddy of Andrea Bauer—remember her?—sits next to a relative of the victim at a rich persons’ thing. Bauer butts in, she’s connected to the cops, can help. Instead of calling me directly, Bauer contacts a state assemblyman. He hands off to the mayor who can’t even clear the goddamn sidewalks of garbage, couple of cops downtown just got typhus at a homeless encampment.”

He pushed his cup to the side. Lowered a fist to the table but stopped short of contact.

“City’s returning to the Dark Ages but Handsome Jack’s got time to personally contact the chief who punts to Deputy Chief Veronique Martz who calls me yesterday just as I’m about to go off-shift. Important meeting, her office, can’t be handled over the phone. I drive eighty-six minutes downtown, cool my heels in her waiting room for another twenty, finally get ushered into her sanctum for the ninety seconds it takes for her to give me the victim’s name and the basics and warn me not to argue.”

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