Stephen White, Author . Delacorte $24.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-385-33620-8

Murder, sex and guilt are all on the couch in bestseller White's latest (Cold Case ; Manner of Death ; etc.) featuring ongoing series hero Alan Gregory, a low-key sleuth/psychologist. As always, the author delivers an absorbing mystery, a mix of interesting subplots involving Gregory's sympathetic friends and family, and a paean to the beauty of the Colorado countryside. This time he splits the point of view equally between Gregory and Gregory's best friend, Boulder police detective Sam Purdey. Sam has just had a heart attack and is facing a dreaded rehabilitation regimen when his wife decides to leave him, perhaps permanently. Gregory has his own plateful of domestic difficulties caring for his MS-stricken wife and his toddler daughter while tending to a full caseload of clients who run the gamut from mildly neurotic to full-blown psychotic. An old patient he hasn't seen in a year, the beautiful Gibbs Storey, comes back for therapy and announces that her husband has murdered a former lover, and she's not sure what to do about it. And by the way, she thinks he may have murdered a bunch of other women as well. Gregory decides that, as a therapist, he cannot report the murders to the police, spending pages and pages justifying his decision. He turns to recuperating pal Sam, and the two of them separately follow various threads until all is resolved, just in the nick of time. White is known for his surprise endings, and this one is no exception. Aside from the repetitive and less than convincing ethical considerations, it's an engrossing addition to an excellent series. (Feb. 3)

Reviewed on: 11/24/2003
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
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