cover image Private Practices

Private Practices

Stephen White. Viking Books, $20 (432pp) ISBN 978-0-670-84673-3

The likable Colorado coterie from Privileged Information supports smug analyst/sleuth Alan Gregory's second outing in this psychological thriller. A deranged husband pushes into Gregory's Boulder, Colo., office with a gun and a hostage, demanding to see his battered wife, Claire Draper, who's in session with Alan's partner, Diane Estevez. The cops save Diane, but not Claire or the hostage, her divorce lawyer. Claire was slated to testify to a grand jury against a Boulder bigwig, and when a blast kills another witness--in front of Alan and his girlfriend, assistant DA Lauren Crowder--Det. Sam Purdy enlists Alan's help on the case. Break-ins at the office and at Diane's home send the two shrinks hunting through their rifled files for clues while Boulder officials slow the investigation. An abused teen unexpectedly links the victims to public officials, blackmailers, unethical therapists and a vacation-home compound in the nearby mountains. White weaves a near-flawless web of evil, and his prose is as smooth and fast as a downhill slalom, with enough twists and jumps to keep it interesting. If only Alan Gregory were less self-satisfied and as easy to like as his friends. 35,000 first printing; ad/promo. (Jan.)