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Spurring on Jeremy's investigation is Dr. Arthur Chess, an enigmatic pathologist who specializes in examining the dead, but harbors a keen fascination with the darker deeds committed by the living. Arthur draws Jeremy into an unexpected friendship, and into the confidence of a cryptic society devoted to matters unknown and unspoken. When he suddenly slips away, Jeremy is left to contend with an onslaught of anonymous clues - and the growing realization that a harrowing game of cat and mouse has been set in motion.
But who besides Jeremy is playing - and who is making the rules? Before the killer strikes again, Jeremy races to connect the disturbing puzzle pieces being fed to him. Yet his search for answers only seems to yield more questions. And deepening the mystery is the undeniable presence of someone watching it all - and guiding Jeremy's investigation from behind the scences. As the game intensifies, Jeremy must decide if a secret ally is setting him on the right path ... or a sadistic enemy is setting him up for afate far beyond even the most twisted imagination.
Polar opposites was the way Jeremy Carrier had always seen it.
In a hospital setting, no two disciplines were less connected than psychology and pathology. As a practitioner of the former, Jeremy prided himself on an open mind; a good psychotherapist worked hard at avoiding stereotypes.
But during all his years of training and clinical work at City Central Hospital, Jeremy had met few pathologists who didn't fit a mold: withdrawn, mumbly types, more comfortable with gobbets of necrosed flesh, the abstract expressionism of cell smears, and the cold-storage ambience of the basement morgue, than with living, breathing patients.
And his fellow psychologists, psychiatrists, and all the other soldiers of the mental health army, were, more often than not, overly delicate souls repelled by the sight of blood.
Not that Jeremy had actually known any pathologists, even after a decade of passing them in the hallways. The social structure of the hospital had regressed to high school sensibilities: Us-Them as religion, a lusty proliferation of castes, cliques, and cabals, endless jockeying for power and turf. Adding to that was the end-means inversion that captures every bureaucracy: the hospital had devolved from a healing place needing funds to treat patients to a large-scale municipal employer requiring patient fees to meet its staff payroll.
All that created a certain asocial flavor.
A confederacy of isolates.
At City Central, like was attracted to like, and only the last-ditch necessities of patient care led to cross-pollination: internists finally admitting defeat and calling in surgeons, gen- eralists taking deep breaths before plunging into the morass of consultation.
What reason could there be for a pathologist to contact a psychologist?
Because of all that--and because life's hellish wrist-flick had turned Jeremy Carrier into a tormented, distracted young man--he was caught off-balance by Arthur Chess's overture.
Perhaps Jeremy's distractibility formed the basis for all that followed.
For nearly a year, Jeremy had seen Arthur once a week, but the two men had never exchanged a word. Yet here was Arthur, settling down opposite Jeremy in the doctors' dining room and asking if Jeremy cared for company.
It was just before 3 p.m., an off-hour for lunch, and the room was nearly empty.
Jeremy said, "Sure," then realized he was anything but.
Arthur nodded and settled his big frame into a small chair. His tray bore two helpings of fried chicken, a hillock of mashed potatoes glazed with gravy, a perfect square of corn bread, a small bowl of succotash, and a sweating can of Coca-Cola.
Staring at the food, Jeremy wondered: Southern roots? He tried to recall if Arthur's voice had ever betrayed Southern inflections, didn't think so. If anything, the old man's baritone was flavored by New England.
Arthur Chess showed no immediate interest in conversation. Spreading a napkin on his lap, he began shearing through the first piece of chicken. He cut quickly and gracefully, using long fingers tipped by broad nails stubbed short. His long white lab coat was snowy-clean but for a disturbing spatter of pinkish stains on the right sleeve. The shirt beneath the coat was a blue pinpoint Oxford spread-collar. Arthur's magenta bow tie hung askew in a way that suggested intention.
Posted July 20, 2013
Posted July 10, 2013
Posted May 11, 2010
Although "The Conspiracy Club" doesn't include an all-time favorite, Alex Delaware, we're introduced to a likeable, young psychologist named Jeremy Carrier. In this story, he is psychologically put through his paces, and once the momentum begins to build, the reader is almost as caught up in the intrigue as the hero.
When we meet Jeremy, he is recovering from the vicious murder of his fiancée, Jocelyn Banks, a nurse at Central City Hospital where he also works. He is typically considered a suspect by the police, and although they later leave him alone because of the lack of evidence, one of the detectives, Steve Hoker, continues to pursue him throughout the novel in an indirect way.
Jeremy has become totally absorbed in his job and is considered a favorite of all who come into contact with him. He has a special healing talent that patients respond to and a charisma that doesn't escape Angelo Rios, a resident physician. She and Jeremy eventually become lovers.
Meanwhile, an older doctor on staff, Arthur Chess, a pathologist and director of a weekly meeting Jeremy attends, approaches Jeremy one day in the doctors' dining room. Chess's overture confuses Jeremy because the older man's manner is unusual, and Jeremy doesn't see the point of their conversation. As time goes on, however Jeremy realizes that Chess is involving him in a clever and elaborate mind game, and the symbolic name of Chess doesn't go unnoticed by the reader. Still, the point of the game eludes Jeremy, although he is caught up in the mystery and is determined to follow it though. He is introduced to Chess's friends at a bizarre late-night supper and then abruptly ignored completely by the older doctor and the rest of the group.
When Chess leaves the hospital temporarily to travel, Jeremy is given strange clues via interoffice correspondence to something that momentarily baffles him. He thinks the messages are coming from Chess, but the fact that he's abroad only confounds the issue. Jeremy is hooked nevertheless. He suspects that Chess's dinner companions may be in on the project and are acting in his behalf. Occational postcards from Chess offer further clues to something hidden.
Finally, the twists and turns expose a symmetry and enlightenment that amaze Jeremy. He connects the dots to reveal an evil side to two other doctors on staff and a vulnerability shared by Chess and his friends. The clues he has received plunge Jeremy deeply into their secrets and his own psyche and ultimately point to a cathartic release for Jeremy.
For readers who enjoy winding through a maze, this book is recommended for the sheer intricacy of it. Once more, Kellerman performs his magic.
Posted April 29, 2009
Posted March 18, 2006
I'm thoroughly disappointed. I expect a lot more out of this prolific writer. I thought I'd be thrilled get to know new characters, but I wasn't. 86 Dr. Carrier and Angela. The story never got off the ground. I finished the book because I hoped that it would get better. It didn't. Bring back the page turners with Alex and Milo!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 4, 2005
As a huge Kellerman fan I was excited to read something with new characters..it turns out that I should have stuck with the usual Kellerman fare. The storyline was mediocre at best and I felt nothing for the characters..I missed Alex and Milo. I look forward to the next Delaware or Petra book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 15, 2005
Contrary to the other reviews shown here, I thought the book was a success... Even though written as a stand-alone book, I would read another about Dr. Jeremy Carrier or Arthur Chess and the CCC. As an avid reader of the Alex Delaware series, I appreciated Kellerman's deviation from the norm.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 20, 2004
I'm not impressed at all with this book. It was extremely slow and boring. Just when you expected something exciting to happen, nothing did. The book did not flow like it should have. I don't think it was completely horrid, but it is definately not on my Favorite Books List. Kellerman didn't begin to develop his characters until at least 50 pages in to the novel. I was expecting more from a book call The Conspiracy Club. To me there wasn't much of a conspiracy. For real conspiracy read The Da Vinci Code or The Rule of Four.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 9, 2004
I was ready not to like this book after reading all these reviews, but decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. I was pleasantly surprised. Although this one is slower paced than the Delaware whodunits, I found this story line more intriguing and interesting. I liked the fact that we learned about the club slowly as part of the story. I liked the characters and thought he did a good job developing them throughout the book. Overall, it's not one of those 'can't put it down', but it's a very satisfying read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 18, 2004
Let me first say that I'm an AVID Kellerman fan & have read all of his novels. As soon as I finish one, I wait expectantly for his next to be published. The quality of the writing in The Conspiracy Club is so inferior.....It's slow, dull, stiff, unsophisticated. A pet peeve: The author used his thesaurus liberally. (IMO, I'm not fond of using obscure words when you can convey your meaning much more clearly & directly.) The writing is mediocre & far beneath what we have come to expect from this fine author. I agree with the reviews below & wish I could have read them before buying this book. Kellerman is usually so good that, out of trust, I pre-ordered this book. Save your money & don't buy it!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 25, 2004
Although the first half of the book is slow-paced, its short chapters were absolutely necessary in order to prevent one from totally giving up on the story! Once past that, the story picks up pace to reward the reader with a novel that is worth exploring to the end.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2004
I was absolutely bored with this novel. I read the last 100 pages in one sitting just so I wouldn't have to open the book again. It seems you're waiting for something to happen and when it does you have one page left in the book. Very DissapointedWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 30, 2004
Contrary to most of the reviews, I enjoyed Kellerman's departure from the norm. The characters are well-developed and I did not think this story dragged. It is not a long novel and Kellerman spaced the twists and turns to my satisfaction. I have not read a complete Alex Delaware novel but will do so after reading this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 18, 2004
The Conspiracy Club took me awhile to get through and I'm a big Kellerman fan--loved the Murder book. Thought the main character in this book a little stiff, but he came through in the end with a twist and his usual white-knuckle suspense!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 5, 2004
I always finish a book with the belief that somewhere 'in there' there is something of value to learn. The basic plot of The Conspiracy Club is an attention-getter --- women being murdered. And yes, the pages will turn. However, until I got to page 225, I was struggling with the decision --- is this a romance, mystery, or medical chronicle? After approximately page 225, the plot does gain momentum. I did not find the story psychologically complex or challenging. I am slightly disappointed with this writing. Specifically, connections to the plot are expressed in shallow, below standard, and insubstantial build-up and depth. There is only a tad of 'breathtaking' moments, and desire for the reader to hurry to the end to find out 'who-done-it.' The characters, even the hero, Dr. Jeremy Carrier, are too laid back. Except for Jeremy, other characters are very inactive in their roles. I did not find the culprit 'hunt chilling' nor do I consider this tome a '21st century Jack the Ripper' --- far from it. A small number of victims, very little involvement of police activity and investigation expressed, and did not see the police represented as 'assumed' heavy investigative factions --- a part that made the story 'not believable.' Many nondescript factors combined to make for weak storytelling --- other than the description of what/where someone ate (for) lunch. The roles of doctors Gwynn Hauser and Dirgrove were left 'flat' with no follow-up; Arthur Chess and compatriots were left flat in most of the story, especially Dr. Chess in his travels and how they connected to the plot. I was left wondering whether the parts of the aforesaid characters add value to the story and am left with the question: 'Are they necessary to the story?' On balance, I did enjoy the read and would read other books by this author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 11, 2004
Having read and loved all of Jonathan Kellerman's books, I was so very disappointed in this one. The characters were so one dimensional. The relationships between the characters were flimsy, dull, and lackluster. The ending was beyond predictable. I'm only glad I borrowed this at the library instead of buying it. I'm all for a new character but don't make him so washed out.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2004
I've read other Jonathan Kellerman novels, most recently 'The Murder Book', that was a great book! This one was very slow getting started and I became a little frustrated towards the middle, itching for something to happen. Once I hit around Chapter 42 or so, things picked up and I couldnt put it back down until it was done. Good but could have been better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 18, 2004
Posted December 21, 2003
I've read most of Kellerman's novels ... and say that this is one of the poorer ones. It doesn't bear any resemblance to the 'Alex Delaware' stories (where So. Calif. and Alex and Milo's adventures are so vividly painted). I couldn't get past half of it before having to 'skim through' the rest of the book. Big waste of time - and I certainly wouldn't recommend it to anyone expecting 'Kellerman's normal type of novel'.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 28, 2003
I have been a longtime fan of his work and have enjoyed every book and looked forward to each new one, but this book was lacking in thrill factor, as well as, being incredibly boring characters. Please bring back Alex and the plots that keep me up all night striving to get to the end. All this book did was force me to keep going hoping for some reminance of the old Kellerman, but to no avail.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.