As a series of wildfires swoop ever closer to his Boulder office, psychotherapist Alan Gregory’s life threatens to go up in metaphorical flames even before their arrival.
As part of his deep-laid plan of revenge against Alan and his friend, Detective Sam Purdy, Alan’s incarcerated ex-patient Michael McClelland sicced Currie Brown on the oh-so-susceptible Sam. When he realized that Currie planned to kill his own family and Alan’s, Sam reacted in the way every cop dreams of: by staging a fake suicide that would neutralize Currie's threat for keeps and telling Alan what he’d done. One night the two conspirators, meeting over a comatose accident victim at Community Hospital, review their actions and assure themselves that they’re safe. But that very conversation puts them back in the hot seat when the accident victim, threatened by a variety of police charges himself, makes a complete recovery, checks out of the hospital, comes after Alan with what he’s learned, and vows to bring down Sam in order to keep himself out of jail. Meantime, Alan’s begun to treat Amanda Bobbie, who insists she wants his advice about a friend who’s about to go broke, then reveals that she’s a paid-companion-with-benefits to said friend, who begins to sound an awful lot like somebody Alan knows. The two plot lines take quite a while to get established, but once they do, the pressure on Alan mounts relentlessly until a stunning coincidence sends the unrelated two stories crashing together.
White (Dead Time, 2008, etc.) makes it clear that Alan’s 19th appearance is his penultimate case; the next case will be his swan song. Judging from the risks he takes this time, fans won’t want to miss the sequel.