The past resurfaces in ways that are as intimate as they are frightening when Dr. Alan Gregory and Dr. Sawyer Sackett-a woman he once loved-are plunged into the private nightmare of a killer who knows about the terrifying power of mind games.
After attending the funeral of a former colleague from his days as an intern, Gregory is accosted (and has a tempting Mexican lunch spoiled) by a pair of edgy ex-FBI agents now working for a high-ticket private security firm. They believe that the colleague's "accidental" death on a hiking trip is really part of an attempt to wipe out everyone who was part of a particular team in a psychiatric unit at the University of Colorado's Health Services Center in Denver in 1982. As members of that team, Gregory--and his former lover, Sawyer Sackett--are among the few remaining survivors and the next likely targets. Overhearing this news causes a waitress to drop two platters of green chili burritos in a messy clatter.
D.B. Cooper becomes an important part of the story as Gregory, his prosecutor wife, Lauren (whose multiple sclerosis leads to some unusual and important observations), their cop friend Sam Purdy, and the two ex-FBI agents zero in on possible suspects--one of whom has an abnormal fascination with the hijacker's life. White spends a tad too much time on Alan's past history with the mysterious Sawyer, but in general his narrative engine runs smoothly and powerfully toward its satisfying and largely unexpected conclusion. Other Gregory books include Critical Conditions, Harm's Way, Higher Authority, Private Practices, and Remote Control. --Dick Adler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Full of great action sequences and thoughtful musings, this novel perpetuates White as one of the great psychological/medical thrill writers of the past 10 years. Not to be missed!
In this installment in what has rapidly become a very popular series, Dr. White reprises all of the characters fans of these books expect to meet again within the covers. White also introduces the legend of D.B Cooper into the storyline, not as a foil or complication, but as an inherent part of the plot and as a possible explanation for the murders and other mysterious deaths that are part of this story.
Oh yes, there are killings galore in this novel. The author makes use of a past love for Alan Gregory and does a masterful job in his use of flashbacks to explain where Alan Gregory was in 1982 (long before he met his wife Lauren, or Sam Purdy or even his first wife). His first love came while he was a psychology intern at the teaching hospital in Denver. It was there that he met Dr. (MD) Sawyer Sackett. The love affair that developed ended badly and Sawyer left without notice or apology. It has taken years for Dr. Gregory to get over her and when we flash back to the present, Alan and his wife are forced to confront the possibility that a former patient may have been killing off all of the staff members who treated him so many years before.
Not too far into this story, Alan is informed that one of his former colleagues has died under suspicious circumstances. Upon further investigation, he becomes aware that there hasn't been just one death among his former interns and residents, but many. In a comical scene in a restaurant, Alan and Lauren meet two former FBI agents who were retained by the most recently deceased Dr. Arnie Dresser's mother to discover if there was foul play. They believe there was and in almost all of the cases. They have plausible explanations, but almost no hard evidence and cannot seem to interest the FBI or local law enforcement agencies because the locales are so far apart and the M.O.s so different.
Throughout this fast paced and gripping thriller, White does an exceptional job of keeping the tension high and the fear factor elevated. Every time Alan or Sawyer leaves home, the hotel, the office or wherever, the reader finds himself wondering if the killer will strike right then and there. Although there are a couple of really close calls, especially for Alan, he must also come to grips with his unresolved feelings for his former lover, Sawyer.
Sawyer is one of those well developed characters that White uses as a foil for Alan Gregory. In her case, the author only provides enough information to keep the reader moving forward. When he finally reveals "her dark secret," I was so stunned, shocked and saddened that I finally understood why she could not and would not get close to Alan back in 1982. White handles that scene very well and with a high degree of empathy and compassion and he does that through the eyes of Dr. Alan Gregory.
In addition to Sawyer Sackett, White also introduces the two former FBI agents, A.J. Simes and Milton Custer. A.J. is also a Ph.d. in Psychology and was a profiler for the FBI before a medical disability forced her retirement. Custer, a former field agent retired after 25 years and became a consultant. Alan's wife Lauren, notices some of the symptoms A.J. is suffering from and tells Alan that A.J. too, is suffering from MS. White shows us her symptoms just as he does Lauren's. Throughout the story, despite her annoying mannerisms, we hope that A.J. and Custer really do have Alan and Lauren's best interests in mind. We hope they really are "the good guys."
Even with new characters, where would an Alan Gregory mystery be without his erstwhile sidekick Sam Purdy? Well, Sam's here, too and this time, suffering the effects of a temporary lay-up due to kidney stones. As he recovers and realizes he's going crazy on sick-leave, he stays by Alan's side as the home teams tries to solve this most vexing of puzzles.
The use of the legend of D.B. Cooper adds a certain 1970s cultural appeal to the entire story and Stephen White provides a plausible possible answer to who the actual skyjacker might have been. Throughout this book, I kept wondering if that little plot gimmick would lead to something and was pleased to see that the author left the answer somewhat ambiguous.
Contrary to what others may have said, MANNER OF DEATH is as good as any of the other Alan Gregory novels to date. Although I started the series out of order, I have never once been disappointed by any of these stories. I hope Dr. Stephen White keeps Alan, Lauren, Sam, Adrienne, Jonas and Emily around for many books in the future. Each time I open one of these novels, I feel like I am visiting with friends and that's what makes these books so enjoyable and comfortable.
While the writing style is good (i.e. Read more