Yet another of Dr. Alan Gregory’s ex-patients goes off the rails, threatening the Boulder psychologist, his wife and his best friend with exposure of their darkest secrets.
Years ago, after meteorologist Michael McClelland raped and murdered his sister, Alan Gregory (Kill Me, 2006, etc.) testified in a hearing that sent McClelland to a psychiatric ward at Colorado State Hospital instead of the big house. Now McClelland’s escaped at just the time things are starting to go seriously wrong in his old therapist’s life. He’s already estranged from his wife, MS-stricken deputy DA Lauren Crowder, because of her resistance to his pleas that they have another child and her involvement in the hunt for a missing witness she can’t talk about. Their relationship turns frigid when the witness’s handbag turns up in Alan’s office and a police search ordered by his old buddy Det. Sam Purdy reveals blood on his shoe. The blood, Alan knows, is innocuous enough: It comes from his new patient Kol Cruz’s nosebleed. Actually, he doesn’t know squat. Cruz has disappeared, leaving behind a string of whoppers. McClelland has obviously staked out Alan’s house. The cops offer Lauren protection from whoever might have killed her witness, but they obviously don’t believe a word Alan says. At length, the trails of the two patients, past and present, cross in a way that makes it painfully clear, as Sam points out, that if Alan really is innocent of the spiraling web of criminal conspiracy, somebody’s gone to an awful lot of trouble to make him the patsy. It would be unfair to reveal any of the surprises White detonates down the road with all the craft and patience of a suicide bomber. In a masterful stroke, he even manages to wring additional shock and suspense out of McClelland’s surrender to the authorities.
Not even an anticlimactic ending can wreck Alan’s 15th, and finest, case.