My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is more like 2.5 stars than 3 but I rounded up since it wasn’t badly written, it just wasn’t my thing. I’ve read others by Stephen White. I’m a sucker for people writing mysteries with protagonists sharing their same professional field. Alan Gregory, a psychologist, who, along with his cop friend, Sam, often get sucked into mysteries.
It opens well with several things happening. One Mallory Miller, a teenaged girl, has disappeared from her house over the Christmas holiday without leaving tracks in the snow and everyone in Boulder is reminded of another disappearance of a little girl a few years earlier (it dances around the Ramsey case without actually naming it and actually I didn’t like that. It seemed somehow insensitive but that might be me being too sensitive). Then Hannah Grant, another psychologist in Alan’s group is found dead with head injuries in another therapist’s office, Mary, who is out on maternity leave. Hannah is found by Alan and his friend and fellow therapist, Diane.
After the detectives treat Alan and especially Diane badly, Alan takes an interest. He quickly learns that Hannah had seen Mallory as a patient and had spoken to Diane about the case as part of her own therapy. Alan had been a therapist, briefly, with Mallory’s parents Bill and Rachel as Rachel is a paranoid schizophrenic who feels compelled to attend wedding after wedding, at great expense.
And once we learn this part the book stalls badly. I did set it aside several times to read other things at this point. It just goes back and forth over Diane wanting to find Rachel to see if Mallory was there (without ever explaining why the hell the cops aren’t looking in Vegas for the wedding-loving mom) and Alan dealing with Bob a man with a schizoid personality who seems to have a sudden interest in Mallory’s case. He starts wondering if Bob had something to do with it.
Finally around page 200, Diane goes to Vegas and is kidnapped and at the same time, Bob hands Alan a box filled with a ‘story’ he wrote that explains the Mallory case and then he too disappears. Raoul, Diane’s husband goes to Vegas to find her while Alan tries to get Sam to help him in Boulder. It gets pretty good at this point and moves along fast at last. It’s told in first person so we get the Vegas stuff in a series of phone calls. Unfortunately in the latter point, it’s no longer phone calls and it’s referred to in past tense because Raoul, too, disappears off the grid but it’s info the reader needs to we know at least Raoul gets out alive.
The ending disappointed in so much as there was literally no way of figuring out this mystery because of information never revealed anywhere until the big reveal. So over all it hovers between so-so and good. It’s okay. I just didn’t find the psychotherapy sessions that make up the first two hundred pages all that exciting.
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