Crime-prone Boulder psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory doesn’t have to do anything but listen to one of his most troubled patients: a man sentenced to death by killers he hired himself.
After getting rescued from a skiing mishap that could have been much worse and hearing the news that a friend has been turned into a vegetable by a scuba accident, the anonymous narrator, a wealthy med-tech developer, realizes he’s never worried what will happen if illness or accident leave him incapacitated, unable to communicate his wish to die if he can’t Live-with-a-capital-L, or make sure that wish is honored. A sympathetic friend puts him in touch with a shadowy group he dubs the Death Angels who offer a unique service. For a cool million, they’ll ask you enough questions to construct an individualized profile of your likely future wishes, then monitor your health, keep an eye out for accidents and step in without further notice if you cross the quality-of-life line you’ve drawn yourself. The big advantage to this arrangement, of course, is that you get to make decisions about the end of your life while you’re still in the pink of health. The big disadvantage is that once you’ve made the final payment, your contract with the Death Angels is irrevocable—even if you soon develop an aneurysm that produces symptoms so serious you know the Death Angels are watching, even if in the meantime you’ve developed an emotional bond to a son you never knew you had that’s so vital it’s absolutely essential you stay alive at least long enough to find the missing boy and bid him farewell.
White, no stranger to suspenseful but wildly implausible plots (Missing Persons, 2005, etc.), wisely front-loads this thriller with a flatly incredible premise that pays off down the road despite a cargo of further improbabilities.