The last few days have been difficult for my family. Here it is, right in the nitty gritty of the holiday season, and I keep sneaking away to read. Usually I'm able to keep a better handle on balancing reading with taking care of everyone living here, but I just wasn't able to do it this time.
Not only is SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST a fun and fast read, it gives you some real food for thought. As the twelfth of Kellerman's Alex Delaware novels, SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST never runs out of steam.
Delaware, like Kellerman, is a child psychologist. While Kellerman has retired to continue writing, Delaware is still very much alive in the psych community, though he seems to concentrate more on helping with police investigations and seeing a few clients that have been recommended to him rather than having an active practice.
The first chapter of SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST does a wonderful job of sucking you in. There's no gradual build up or background to wade through before you get to the fun stuff. (Check out the first two chapters here.) A cop goes into a diner and blows his brains out. No one knows why, or at least no one will admit it. The cop's sister needs answers and looks to Alex Delaware for some closure.
While Alex is trying to find out why a police officer would kill himself so publicly and with no apparent reason, his old buddy Milo Sturgis asks him for some assistance on another case --- a retarded girl, the daughter of an Israeli diplomat, murdered on a school outing.
The case is old, the trail is cold, and pressure is mounting to have it solved. No one knows quite what to make of the case. All they are able to determine is that they're dealing with an extremely arrogant killer who enjoys matching wits with the police, and who has serious problems with people not as physically and mentally able as he is.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST is a most appropriate title for a book that shows you a real twist on Darwin's theory. From detailed descriptions of how IQ tests have been used to deny immigrants the right to enter the United States, to having people with handicaps denied health care, to a host of other examples of the belief of inferiority of those with disabilities, Kellerman gives some amazing background on the thought process that may be behind the murders.
I usually enjoy this series because the books are exciting and I get a real kick out of psychology. But SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST has a little more depth than Kellerman's previous work. Don't get me wrong, there's lots of action; there's little time to breathe as you rush from page to page to see what new twist or turn will throw you off the scent again. But there are also some sections that really make you reflect on your position toward issues regarding the rights of those with difficulties.
If you've been disappointed with Kellerman's last few novels, don't let that get in the way of reading this one. Not only is it his finest since BAD LOVE, but there's a connection to THE BUTCHER'S THEATER, Kellerman's only book outside of the Delaware series. I really love it when books tie together and it is done exceptionally well here.
Full of surprises and easy to read, SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST is one book you shouldn't miss.
Reviewed by Jill Williams on November 3, 1998