Stephen White, Author . Dutton $25.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-525-94859-9

Bestseller White's 13th Alan Gregory thriller gets off to a fast start with the psychologist's discovery of the corpse of his social worker colleague Hannah Green at their shared offices in Boulder, Colo. But the case that propels the narrative is that of "another little girl [who] has disappeared on Christmas night in Boulder." The echoes of the JonBenet Ramsey murder are unmistakable (if never mentioned explicitly), but this time the "little girl" is a teenager, Mallory Miller—and she may simply have run away. Her entire family is dysfunctional: her schizophrenic mother, for example, moved to Las Vegas to indulge her obsession for attending other people's weddings. Then others begin to disappear: Diane, another colleague of Alan and Hannah, who was in Las Vegas searching for Mallory's mother; Bob, one of Gregory's patients with an obsessive interest in Mallory's disappearance; and the mysterious man who lives next door to Mallory. The events are all linked, of course, and Gregory doggedly pursues their connections while juggling his many professional and family responsibilities. The novel wallows too deeply in therapy ethics, and the plot isn't nearly compelling enough to justify its complexity, but as usual the author, himself a psychologist, uses his professional knowledge to paint a convincing backdrop of the world of clinical practice. Expect another bestseller. Agent, Lynn Nesbit at Janklow & Nesbit. Author tour. (Mar. 7)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
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