Psychological expertise enlivens this crime thriller involving gifted children

In Over the Edge, the author demonstrates his psychological expertise.

Alex Delaware had left behind his practice as a child psychologist three years earlier. But when he receives a call in the middle of the night about a former patient, he doesn’t hesitate to rush out to the psychiatric hospital where the young man was living. Except that Jamey Cadmus is no longer there. He’s now in the hands of the police, accused of being the notorious Lavender Slasher, who has murdered six boy prostitutes. Alex has his work cut out for him when the high-priced lawyer hired to defend Jamey looks to him for a strong defense.

Six gifted children in an experimental program

In the investigation he launches on Jamey’s behalf, Alex soon finds himself caught up in the murky circumstances surrounding an experimental program at UCLA involving six gifted children. Five of the six had set out on successful careers reflecting their genius-level IQs. Jamey was the glaring exception. And Alex feels bound to understand why. His quest for insight into Jamey’s condition will bring him into conflict with the LAPD and expose him to great peril.


Over the Edge (Alex Delaware #3) by Jonathan Kellerman (1987) 452 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)


Kellerman brings psychological expertise to bear

One of the great virtues of the Alex Delaware novels is the psychological expertise that Jonathan Kellerman brings to his subject. He was a practicing clinical psychologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California School of Medicine from 1974, when he obtained his PhD, until 1990, when he left his practice behind to write full-time.

How Kellerman views cliched TV forensic psychology

Here’s an example of Kellerman’s professional perspective on forensic psychology: “Even the most brilliant psychiatrist or psychologist who abandons scientific rigor to step into the bog of speculation called diminished capacity can be made to look like a complete idiot on the witness stand by a prosecutor of only moderate capabilities.” That’s an insight you’re not likely to encounter on a TV crime series. It’s a pleasure to read a psychological thriller written by someone with authentic psychological expertise.

For additional reading

Over the Edge was the third in Kellerman’s Alex Delaware series. I’ve reviewed the series’s first two books:

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