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Harm's Way

Harm's Way

2.7 7
by Stephen White

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When Alan Gregory, a psychiatrist, finds his friend dead in a Colorado community theater, it looks like the victim knew -- even trusted - his killer. The clues send Gregory on a trail leading to his friend's hidden life.

While he helps police untangle the knots, a string of new murders -- just as ghastly and baffling -- present fresh complications.

"Stephen White


When Alan Gregory, a psychiatrist, finds his friend dead in a Colorado community theater, it looks like the victim knew -- even trusted - his killer. The clues send Gregory on a trail leading to his friend's hidden life.

While he helps police untangle the knots, a string of new murders -- just as ghastly and baffling -- present fresh complications.

"Stephen White keeps on getting better." (The Denver Post)

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.

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Dr. Alan Gregory Series , #4
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.26(w) x 7.12(h) x 1.42(d)

Meet the Author

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

Brief Biography

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

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Harm's Way 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
bravewarrior More than 1 year ago
CD/abridged/Thriller: This was book 18 of the Dr. Alan Gregory series, which I had never heard of. This book read more like a cheesy Patterson book. A bloody body is found dead in a theater and it looks like the killer may actually be a group of people enacting the murder on stage. Some may be watching the murder while masturbating; tho outlandish. Alan is brought to the scene and asked to help the police with a profile. Of course, Alan gets in over his head looking for the murderers. Just....skip it.
Craftydolls More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lots of surprises and turns in this book. Thriller. Written very well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.