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When Dr. Alan Gregory's good friend Peter Arvin is found bloody and dying on the stage of a Colorado theatre, suspicion soars that he has become the second victim of a killer whose first prey was discovered amid the elaborate scenery of the road company's production of the Broadway show Miss Saigon. Alan is immediately asked to respond to two pleas for help: one from the police, who would like a psychological profile of the murderer, and one from Peter's widow, who is desperate ...
When Dr. Alan Gregory's good friend Peter Arvin is found bloody and dying on the stage of a Colorado theatre, suspicion soars that he has become the second victim of a killer whose first prey was discovered amid the elaborate scenery of the road company's production of the Broadway show Miss Saigon. Alan is immediately asked to respond to two pleas for help: one from the police, who would like a psychological profile of the murderer, and one from Peter's widow, who is desperate to know the meaning of her dead husband's secrets.
As Alan struggles to cope with the complexities of his new marriage and the shattering personal consequences of his friend's murder, provocative clues lead him down a trail that winds from the Front Range of the Rockies to the casinos of the Colorado high country and finally to the grandeur outside Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
His journey takes him deep into Peter's past and inevitably toward the discovery of harrowing truths about the human heart - about the struggle for survival and the quest for forgiveness - that seem always just out of his reach, obscured by the smoke of a long-forgotten fire.
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.
Posted June 9, 2011
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 5, 2010
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.
Posted May 5, 2010
Posted April 25, 2000
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.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 16, 2010
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Posted March 19, 2010
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