Harm's Way

( 7 )

Overview

In this novel of "fascinating psychological suspense" (San Francisco Chronicle), Dr. Alan Gregory follows a trail of harrowing secrets, naked violence, and hidden shame into the haunted heart of a friend he thought he knew. And now, what Alan still doesn't know might kill him.

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Overview

In this novel of "fascinating psychological suspense" (San Francisco Chronicle), Dr. Alan Gregory follows a trail of harrowing secrets, naked violence, and hidden shame into the haunted heart of a friend he thought he knew. And now, what Alan still doesn't know might kill him.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The extravagantly showy murder of a very private man opens White's engrossing fourth story about Colorado psychologist Alan Gregory (following Higher Authority). Alan's friend and neighbor, Peter Arvin, a skilled woodworker and solo mountain climber, is found tortured and bleeding to death on top of a grand piano on the stage of the Boulder Theatre. After Peter dies at the hospital where his wife, Adrienne, is a urologist, police detective Sam Purdy asks Alan to work up an informal profile of the killer to see whether it matches that of the person being sought for a similar murder in Denver. Complying with Adrienne's desire to be able to tell her young son, Jason, more about his father, Alan also investigates Peter's past. These linked efforts, soon complicated by a third theater murder in a nearby town, call on the full reach of Alan's professional skills and lead him into unexpected territory, psychological and geographic. He visits Jackson, Wyo., to find out from Peter's family about a forest fire Peter experienced as a young man, and he encounters danger at the construction site of a Colorado casino where more murders are discovered. All the while, he observes the relationships of others-Peter and Adrienne's unique marriage; the attraction of the woman cop in charge of the Denver murder to Sam Purdy; his own attraction to Jason Arvin's young nanny-through the lens of his love for his new ( and second) wife, Lauren, an assistant DA who makes some cogent observations of her own about the crimes. White, a psychologist, informs this intricate tale with convincing emotion. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Is there a serial killer staging grisly murders in northern Colorado theaters, or was the murderer of Alan Gregory's neighbor, Peter Arvin, mimicking a recent Denver killing? Boulder detective and friend Sam Purdy asks clinical psychologist Gregory to profile the murderer(s), while the widow urges Gregory to find out about Arvin's life before he met her. The trail leads from Arvin's family to a college pal and a casino construction site in a growing gambling town near Boulder, where the rising body count defies forensic resolution. At risk of his life, Gregory and his assistant D.A. wife help Purdy unravel the web of consequences of a single past decision. In White's fourth thriller, Gregory once again takes center stage, after a supporting role in Higher Authority (LJ 10/1/94). This highly recommended title is skillfully plotted with a cast of finely drawn characters and a strong sense of place.-V. Louise Saylor, Eastern Washington Univ. Lib., Cheney
Kirkus Reviews
After a brief semi-hiatus (Higher Authority, 1994), in which his lawyer wife was featured, improbable sleuthing headshrink Alan Gregory returns.

Not that the premise isn't admirably serpentine and sexually kinky: Gregory's pal Peter Arvin, a master carpenter, is found murdered, lashed to a piano on the stage of an old Boulder, Colorado, theater, stabbed 16 times. The cops have found semen stains in the theater's seats, and surmise, after a similar killing in another town, that they've got a serial killer on their hands. The motive is elusive, however, so Gregory finds himself recruited to develop a psychological profile of the murderer. Trouble is that the two killings bear few real similarities, apart from the spilled seed. Once again, White offers plenty of red herrings, compounded here by Arvin's traumatic past (he was involved in the death of a young hiker caught in a brushfire), his affair with his son's nanny, and a suspicious business relationship with an old friend. Meanwhile, Gregory gets help from his devoted wife, who suffers from MS, and from a police buddy, Sam Purdy. Initial single-killer theories soon give way to a deliciously sick, Helter Skelter explanation that has the murders being conducted by a troupe of bloodthirsty performance artists, but the author lets that one go in favor of plot convolutions that wend in more pedestrian directions: Everything seems to hinge on the circumstances surrounding that brushfire. There is some good fun along the way, including a memorable cement-mixer chase scene and a few extra murders, but White spends far too much time filtering the investigation through Gregory's nebbishy perspective for matters to get properly thrilling. Then there's the ceaseless shilling for the virtues of Western landscape, plus an annoying interweaving of the play Miss Saigon with the book's story.

Not a huge disappointment for Gregory fans, but certainly a test of their patience.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451183682
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/28/1997
  • Series: Dr. Alan Gregory Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 322,294
  • Product dimensions: 6.76 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 1.16 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen White

Stephen White is a clinical psychologist and New York Times bestselling author of thirteen previous novels, including The Best Revenge and Missing Persons.

Biography

Anyone who has ever tried his or her hand at writing has surely heard the sage advice "write what you know." Stephen White has most-assuredly taken that bit of wisdom to heart in creating his thrilling series of Alan Gregory novels. A clinical psychologist, White has crafted a character with a similar background that has also benefited from his fifteen years of professional practice.

White has been keeping fans of psychological thrillers on the edges of their seats ever since he published his first novel Privileged Information in 1991. The book introduced his literary alter ego Dr. Alan Gregory and made ample use of everything he'd gleaned while working as a practicing psychologist. "There are two benefits of my previous experience as a psychologist that I consider invaluable to my life as a writer," White revealed in an interview on his web site (www.authorstephenwhite.com). "The first is that my work gave me a chance to observe and study the infinite varieties of motivation that human beings have for their behavior. The other is that being a psychotherapist exposed me to dialogue in its purest form. For eight to ten hours a day over a period of fifteen years I had the privilege of sitting and listening to a wide variety of people just talk. I can't imagine a better training ground for writing dialogue."

As for how similar he truly is to his most-famous creation beyond their shared profession, White says, "The similarities don't exactly end there but there's no need to exaggerate them, either. Although neither of us is a model of mental health, his neuroses are different than mine. And he has advantages that I never had as a psychotherapist. First, he has the benefit of all my years of experience. And second, I get to think about his lines as long as I'd like. Real patients never offer that luxury." The resulting debut novel won rave reviews from the likes of The New York Daily News, Publisher's Weekly, and The Library Journal and established White as a writer to watch.

White followed Privileged Information with over a dozen additional installments of the Alan Gregory adventures. The latest may very well be the most exciting and psychologically provocative episode yet. In Kill Me, a happily-married extreme sports enthusiast and patient of Gregory's makes a deal with a clandestine organization called Death Angels Inc. that may very well bring his life to an untimely end. As always, Dr. Alan Gregory is present, but he plays more of a background role than he does in most of White's other novels. Still, fans of White's previous work will surely be captivated by the novel that Booklist has deemed "Bizarre, thrilling, and oh so much fun" and fellow bestselling writer Michael Connelly (Blood Work, The Closers) asserts is "his best yet."

In any event, White has no immediate plans of abandoning Gregory to write a non-series novel. "My series is commercially successful, thanks to all of you," he says. "As important for me as the commercial success is, the fact [is] that the series is also creatively flexible.... [I] anticipate staying with the series as long as the readers are interested..." If that's the case, then readers can expect the Dr. Alan Gregory to have a long and psychologically healthy life.

Good To Know

Contrary to the rumor mill, the Stephen White who created Alan Gregory is not the same Stephen White who has written a series of books about...ahem ... Barney the Purple Dinosaur. However, White admits that he has occasionally signed the other Stephen White's Barney books when asked to.

For those who are wondering what ever happened to the seemingly long-lost book Saints and Sinners, which was excerpted in Private Practices, you may have already read it without even realizing. Shortly before publication, the title Saints and Sinners was changed to Higher Authority. Some interesting outtakes from our interview with White:

"Jonathan Kellerman and I were colleagues in the early 1980's before either of us were novelists. At a time when our nascent field was very small, we were both psychologists specializing in the psychological aspects of childhood cancer. Jon was at Los Angeles Childrens Hospital. I was at The Children's Hospital in Denver."

"My brother is a better writer than I am."

"One of my first jobs was as a tour guide at Universal Studios. I lasted five weeks. That's two weeks longer than I lasted as a creative writing major during my freshman year at the University of California."

"I worked at Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1971-72, running the upstairs café, waiting tables, and occasionally doing some cooking. Two of my bosses were Alice Waters and Jeremiah Tower. They both cook better than I write. Jeremiah actually writes better than I cook."

"I learned to fly an airplane before I learned to drive a car".

"I'm a lucky man. I've spent much of my adult life in two terrific, rewarding careers. In the first, as a clinical psychologist, I spent eight to twelve hours a day in a room with one other person. In the second, as a writer, I spend a similar number of hours a day in a room with no other person, though sometimes I'm blessed with the company of a dog or two."

"A primary difference between the two experiences? As a psychotherapist, only one other person -- my patient -- typically observed my work. Virtually no one ever critiqued it. As a novelist, literally millions of people observe my work, and most feel no compunction whatsoever about critiquing it. Being a writer is a lovely thing. But adapting to the reality of being read has been a constant source of wonder for me."

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    1. Hometown:
      Colorado
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 20, 1951
    2. Place of Birth:
      Long Island, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., UC Berkeley, 1972; M.A., University of Colorado, Boulder, 1975; Ph.D., 1979
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 9, 2011

    Well moving & thought provoking

    I started reading this series from the beginning. Found this one the most interesting so far, read it in about 6 hrs. Interesting how the character develops of the neighbor Dr. Gregory thought he knew. Psychological aspects of profiling and serial killers are thoughtfully presented. Recommend for mystery series buffs.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2010

    Not very exciting

    I am still pretty new to the Stephen White books. I am always searching for a series to read. I read the first two in the series, skipped the third (it doesn't really revolve around Gregory or a story I care about), and am currently here.
    I've been interested in seeing how Alan Gregory evolves. He came across pretty soft in the first two books, but is getting a bit of a skin. White likes to support his books with strong female roles. These women come across strong, but annoying and brash. I can't figure why Alan is friends with them, I can hardly stand to read about them.
    This book is highly centered around theater. Nothing wrong with that, but not very exciting. That is the central theme around this book, "not very exciting". The other books took quite a while to pick up. I thought about not finishing this book, but then it seemed to pick up a bit. That quickly stopped, however. All semi-answers and teases are so drawn out, you don't even care when you encounter a twist. I honestly didn't see the ending coming (who did it all), but it wasn't exciting. We are never even told why the killer was at the location where they are caught. Set that aside and the ending is still a bore.
    I'm going to try some more of his books, but I really need something to root for in this series. Also, I don't see how it's going to credible for many stories - a non-forensic psych keeps getting involved in all of these murders.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    Edge of your seat

    Lots of surprises and turns in this book. Thriller. Written very well.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2000

    Keep with it, it really gets good.

    I couldn't get into this book at first. It took me 2 weeks to get past the first 150 pages. I almost gave up on it. I stuck it out because I love White's work and it was worth it! If you can get through the first 150 pages you won't regret it. The book picked up some steam and took me along on a fast-paced ride. You'll enjoy it. Read Priviledge Information first if this is your first White book, it gives some background on the characters,and therefore you'll enjoy it more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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