Friday, January 18, 2013

Guest Review: Line of Fire

Summary:  Clinical psychologist and Boulder resident Alan Gregory is finally beginning to feel settled, hopeful that a long period of upheaval in his private life is behind him. He refocuses his energy on his clinical psychology practice, where a beguiling new patient is challenging his values. The interlude of calm doesn’t last, of course: Alan’s dear friend Diane is showing signs of a long-simmering emotional collapse, and Alan’s greatest fear—the exposure of his most dangerous secret—has become something he can’t ignore.

A new witness has surfaced, causing authorities to reopen their investigation into the suicide death of a woman named J. Winter Brown. When Alan and his equally culpable friend Sam Purdy inadvertently disclose details of their involvement in her death to a desperate drug dealer, any confidence they felt about riding out the new investigation evaporates. The trail that leads back to Alan and Sam, once cold, has turned white-hot.

With his vulnerability mounting daily, Alan begins to fear that his mesmerizing new patient may be the catalyst that can cause everything he treasures—his marriage, family, friendship, and future—to implode. As the authorities close in, the story hurtles toward a conclusion that will set the stage for the most unexpected of outcomes: the final act of the Alan Gregory saga. -- Dutton

I have heard some good things about Stephen White's novels, but I've never read one before. Since I was hesitant to begin reading a series at book nineteen, I thought my dad might be game. So here are his thoughts about LINE OF FIRE:

LINE OF FIRE is the first Stephen White book that I have read. It is the19th book in a series about psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory. White intends to end the series with the 20th book as he explains in a note to the reader at the beginning of the novel.

The story takes place near Boulder, Colorado with a wildfire that’s threatening to destroy several homes serving as the background. White develops a complex story mixing some cases from prior novels with a few new cases with new patients.

Alan’s best friend and cop, Sam Purdy, finds out that Alan’s deputy DA wife, Lauren, may be reopening one of Sam’s old cases. The original case was ruled a suicide but new evidence indicates otherwise. This has potential risks to both Alan and Sam. This situation is further compromised by what a supposedly comatose patient thought he overheard Alan and Sam discussing about the case while in his room. At the same time Alan’s friend and associate, Diane, is on the edge of emotional collapse from two traumatic events from her past coupled with her anxiety from the wildfires and her concern that her husband is having an affair.

Meanwhile, Alan has taken on two new patients, Amanda Bobbie and Ricky Contreras. Amanda challenges all of Alan’s clinical capabilities as she discusses her relationships with a lover and her now deceased brother while Contreras is trying to recover from an automobile accident when he finds out his parents are throwing him out of their house.

White’s characters are complex, imperfect and well developed. There are no pure heroes. The fact that they are all flawed to some extent adds immensely to the storylines. Although it would have been beneficial to have read at least some of the previous installments to become more familiar with the characters, the book clearly stands on its own.

Author Stephen White expertly weaves these varied storylines into a terrific thriller that he somehow brings together at the end. He does however leave enough loose ends to be tied up in the final installment of this long running series. If you enjoy complex thrillers that move along at a fast pace you will enjoy LINE OF FIRE.

Thanks to Booking Pap Pap for his review and thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy a good thriller every now and then. I have a problem reading a book that is later in a series too, if I have not read the previous books. It looks like dad did just fine with this one though. I love his detailed and informative review. You better sign him on as co-blogger before someone else does. Thanks for the review.

bermudaonion said...

Wow, to keep a series going that long and still have the books be interesting is quite a feat. I've never read this author.