The suspense-filled curtain-raiser, the discovery of the Boulder District Attorney’s corpse, provides one of the few quiet moments in clinical psychologist Alan Gregory’s latest bomb-enriched thriller.
Until somebody bashed him to death while his bedridden wife lay helpless upstairs, Royal Peterson was the boss of Alan’s wife Lauren Crowder, who’s just about to come off maternity leave to resume her normal life as an ADA with multiple sclerosis when the news comes in. It’s followed by still more shocking news from Alan’s old friend, police detective Sam Purdy: The prime suspect is Sam’s partner Lucy Tanner, whose fingerprints have turned up on the murder weapon. In the meantime, however, Alan’s on the verge of the biggest shock of all. His new patient, unlikable Naomi Bigg, keeps hinting that her son, outraged at the slap on the wrist the criminal-justice system gave his sister Marin’s rapist and the heavy prison term meted out to his father when he tried to take the law into his own hands, has joined forces with his mysterious pal Ramp, still seeking revenge for his mother’s killing by a paroled murderer, to get back at all the functionaries who betrayed Marin Bigg and Denise Ramp. Could those functionaries have included Roy Peterson—and could they include Lauren herself? Alan’s got precious little time to consider the moral quiddities of breaking doctor-patient confidentiality to disclose the existence of a powerful new suspect in the Peterson case, because Ramp’s about to go ballistic with a series of explosions that will send the case screaming out of the mystery category into the trajectory of the greased-lightning thriller—until the disturbingly quiet coda that bookends the tale reveals the final nasty secret.
Though there’s no time to linger over most of the rapidly sketched characters, White (The Program, 2001, etc.) runs the whole gamut from whodunit to duck-and-cover.