Picks and Pans Review: Devil's Waltz

updated 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/22/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Jonathan Kellerman

Cassie Jones is a doctor's nightmare. For the past several months the toddler has been rushed to the emergency room of a Los Angeles hospital with increasingly alarming ailments, none of which her physicians can diagnose. Enter Dr. Alex Delaware, child psychologist and amateur detective, to explore the chilling possibility that somebody—probably a very closely related somebody—is purposely causing Cassie's illnesses.

As in previous best-sellers by Kellerman, a California child psychologist turned mystery writer, most of the clues here lie in the psyche. Delaware delicately tries to tease them out, without alienating the child's apparently devoted family.

Despite the intriguing premise, the novel packs little punch. Part of the problem may be that unlike many past Kellerman protagonists who were traumatized as children, Cassie still is a child and not terribly verbal. Another weakness is the subplot concerning financial skulduggery at the hospital, which the author uses to effect an unsatisfyingly deus ex machina ending. After eight novels in nine years, Kellerman seems to be suffering a case of burnout. (Bantam, $22.95)

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