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If White is to be believed, clinical psychology ranks as a dangerous profession right up there with police work, firefighting, and livery-cab driving. But even if the murderous mayhem that psychologist Alan Gregory stumbles into here strains credulity, it makes for a captivating if convoluted thriller--lighter, swifter, and far more involving than Gregory's debut, in Privileged Information (1991). White, himself a psychologist, starts fast, with the invasion into Gregory's Boulder office of a crazed man holding a gun and a hostage. Within minutes, three people are dead--the gunman, shot by arriving cops, and his two victims: his hostage, who's the divorce attorney for the gunman's estranged wife, and that wife, who'd been in session with Gregory's partner. What seems like a simple case of a divorce gone violent gets complicated when it turns out that the slain wife was to testify at a grand jury--and when Gregory (who narrates) drives his girlfriend, A.D.A. Lauren Crowder, to speak to another grand-jury witness only to have that witness's house explode as Lauren approaches it. To investigate these killings, Gregory hires on as a consultant to a local pathologist, a gumshoeing role that plunks him into a puzzle that--tying into break-ins, blackmail, a plane crash, that grand jury, child porn, and further murders--becomes so complex that White kindly works in a plot recap every few chapters. Even readers dismayed by the dense mesh of plot, though, will relish the superb action scenes and many richly drawn characters--from MS-stricken Lauren to what turns out to be several villains to, above all, Gregory himself, who tells his tale in a mix of bewilderment, self-doubt, and bravado that's simply fetching. Far too busy, but Gregory's eager and ever-appealing analysis of the whacked-out action and its players makes it all worthwhile. Book us for another session, please.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1993
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Viking