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Kill Me

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"What if you could choose when to die? But once you decide, you can't change your mind. Ever. No matter what. Welcome to the next step in the evolution of suspense fiction. Kill Me is a roller-coaster ride that zeros in on some of the most provocative issues of our time - the human yearning for connection, and the choices we make about how we live, and how we die." Kill Me brings Alan Gregory face-to-face with the most challenging case of his career. A man walks into Dr. Gregory's practice playing a game of cat and mouse, slowly revealing a
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2006-03-02 Hardcover New 2006 FIRST PRINTING STATED w/all numbers. Hardback w/ DJ. You are buying a Book in NEW condition with very light shelf wear to include very light edge ... and corner wear. Read more Show Less

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2006 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Dust jacket shows minimal signs of shelf wear Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 402 p. Dr. Alan Gregory Novels ... (Hardcover). Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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New York, NY 2006 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 402 p. Dr. Alan Gregory Novels (Hardcover). Audience: General/trade. ... Stephen White has written a new breed of thriller. Throw out everything you think you know about twists, turns, and surprises. Get ready for the next big thing. Get ready to meet the Death Angels. We've all been there. A loved one or a dear friend becomes desperately ill or is tragically injured. Someone-maybe even you-says, "If that ever happens to me, I wish someone would just...kill me." What if you could choose when to die? Read more Show Less

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Kill Me

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"What if you could choose when to die? But once you decide, you can't change your mind. Ever. No matter what. Welcome to the next step in the evolution of suspense fiction. Kill Me is a roller-coaster ride that zeros in on some of the most provocative issues of our time - the human yearning for connection, and the choices we make about how we live, and how we die." Kill Me brings Alan Gregory face-to-face with the most challenging case of his career. A man walks into Dr. Gregory's practice playing a game of cat and mouse, slowly revealing a progression of deadly secrets while trying to influence how the game will end. Kill me delivers on all the promise of White's earlier work and then raises the bar in an unforgettably inventive tale of survival and mortality.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
The newest installment in Stephen White's Dr. Alan Gregory series asks the question: If you could choose when to die, would you? After a wealthy entrepreneur -- who has a brother with Lou Gehrig's disease and a friend in a permanently vegetative state after a diving accident -- decides to enlist the services of a shadowy company (a.k.a. the Death Angels) to covertly end his life if his physical and/or mental capacities deteriorate below a certain level, he realizes too late that every second of existence, regardless of its perceived quality, is invaluable.

Colorado psychiatrist Alan Gregory faces his most challenging case ever when "an anonymous rich white guy" schedules sessions with him. The man has become deeply unsettled by an accident that has turned a close friend into a brain-dead husk; determining that he never wants to live like that, he pays the Death Angels a million dollars to give him peace of mind -- then promptly forgets about his policy, until a brain aneurysm threatens his life and he is informed that "the client-derived parameters have been exceeded."

Kill Me is much more than a stay-up-all-night psychological thriller. The novel's deeply introspective themes revolve around profoundly serious topics like death and dying, coping with unforeseen tragedies, grief and healing, etc. But considering the amount of dark plotlines running through the book, Kill Me has a surprisingly uplifting message: While one foot may be in the grave, the other definitely is not. Fans of authors like Stephen King and Dean Koontz will absolutely love this unique and unsettling novel. Kill me if I'm wrong. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Bestseller White (Missing Persons) takes an endlessly debatable question-at what point would a decline in your quality of life cause you to want to end your life?-and leverages it into a clever, absorbing thriller. The anonymous narrator is in his prime, a happily married father of a young girl given to high-risk sports. An assortment of grim fates and a near-escape of his own make him consider the question. A shadowy group called Death Angel Inc. contracts to guarantee that if the life of the "insured" should reach a certain agreed-upon level, they will terminate that life. Fascinated and impressed by the Death Angels' knowledge and reach, he eventually negotiates terms with them. This Faustian bargain doesn't take long to reveal its dark side, and White pays almost equal attention to the philosophical and the physical as his hero has to both approach the conditions that would trigger his contract's death clause yet remain healthy enough to fight back. Some finely scripted action scenes build to a telegraphed ending that weakens the book only slightly. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
White narrates a special introduction that provides the origin of this search into the meaning of life and into quality-of-life issues that could make one's death preferable to continued existence. The listener learns a lot about psychologist Alan Gregory's patient, a live-life-to-the-fullest multimillionaire who enters into a contract with the "Death Angels," a secret death insurance company, to end his life should his health decline below a client-defined threshold. We learn his likes, his loves, everything in his life but his full name. As a brain aneurysm threatens to precipitate action by the Death Angels, he finds a strong reason to live, even a life diminished by threat of imminent stroke and possible loss of brain function. If this seems to describe a book that requires a lot of thought, be assured that there's tons of action, suspense, and intrigue along the way. Well read by Dick Hill, this well-engineered audio is a superior candidate for adult mystery collections; very highly recommended.-Cliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Crime-prone Boulder psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory doesn't have to do anything but listen to one of his most troubled patients: a man sentenced to death by killers he hired himself. After getting rescued from a skiing mishap that could have been much worse and hearing the news that a friend has been turned into a vegetable by a scuba accident, the anonymous narrator, a wealthy med-tech developer, realizes he's never worried what will happen if illness or accident leave him incapacitated, unable to communicate his wish to die if he can't Live-with-a-capital-L, or make sure that wish is honored. A sympathetic friend puts him in touch with a shadowy group he dubs the Death Angels who offer a unique service. For a cool million, they'll ask you enough questions to construct an individualized profile of your likely future wishes, then monitor your health, keep an eye out for accidents and step in without further notice if you cross the quality-of-life line you've drawn yourself. The big advantage to this arrangement, of course, is that you get to make decisions about the end of your life while you're still in the pink of health. The big disadvantage is that once you've made the final payment, your contract with the Death Angels is irrevocable-even if you soon develop an aneurysm that produces symptoms so serious you know the Death Angels are watching, even if in the meantime you've developed an emotional bond to a son you never knew you had that's so vital it's absolutely essential you stay alive at least long enough to find the missing boy and bid him farewell. White, no stranger to suspenseful but wildly implausible plots (Missing Persons, 2005, etc.), wisely front-loads this thriller with aflatly incredible premise that pays off down the road despite a cargo of further improbabilities.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525949305
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/2/2006
  • Series: Dr. Alan Gregory Series , #14
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen White is a clinical psychologist and the New York Times bestselling author of sixteen novels, including Kill Me and Dry Ice. He lives in Colorado.


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 ( "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:
    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:

Read an Excerpt


I was about to downshift.

The motor of the old 911 purred only inches behind my ears, its tenor pulse as familiar to me as the treble of my wife's laugh. I couldn't be a hundred percent sure, but I thought I'd also sensed the telltale progression of airy metallic pings that would be the sign that my first true love was coming down with a little valve clatter.

She'd been prone to it her entire life, but still, damn.

It didn't take long for reality—my peculiar reality—to descend and for damn to morph into it doesn't really matter.

The car and I were old lovers; I'd owned her, or she'd owned me, for almost a third of my forty- two years. Neither of us was a virgin when we got together. She'd been assembled by others' hands way back in 1988 and I didn't fondle her wheel or feather her pedals for the first time until 1993, just shy of my thirtieth birthday.

The Porsche and I were gobbling up concrete in the fast lane of Colorado's Interstate 70 right where it begins to climb dramatically into the Rocky Mountain foothills from the table plateaus below Morrison. After an initial long rising straightaway and then a gentle, almost ninety-degree arc that completes a surgical slice through the spine of a Front Range hogback, the freeway suddenly stops messing around and shouts at drivers to take notice, that they've really, truly entered some legendary hills.

Fat bends in the road hug the contour of the soaring mountain and as those curves begin to meld into an ever sharper incline, under-endowed cars struggle to maintain their speed. Fully laden big rigs drift over toward the right shoulder where they fight the steep rise in elevation with the resolve of tortoises. They're slowing not because they want to, but because the gravitational reality of Colorado's main route into the Rocky Mountains offers them no alternative.

I was coming up on that first long right-angle curve, the one just before the highway transects the hogback. That's the spot where I was about to downshift.

A man standing on the bluff above the Morrison exit near Red Rocks caught my eye. Why? Probably because of all the recent news about the sniper. But this guy was too obvious to seem dangerous, and I didn't see a rifle in his hands. He was a man wearing a baseball cap and a fleece jacket, alone on the side of the road. He was leaning forward and gazing over the westbound lanes, his elbows resting on a fence, his right hand pressing a mobile phone to his ear. For the second or two that I spotted him above me he didn't seem to move a muscle. He was staring down at the traffic, seemingly mesmerized by us all.

He was, I decided, probably a plainclothes cop doing surveillance for the damn I-70 sniper. I downshifted into third as I zoomed past him and shot toward the upcoming climb with a fresh boost of torque and enough raw power and confidence to soar past anybody or anything that might be blocking my path on the curving ascent ahead.

The interstate flattens out for a prolonged stretch prior to the brash incline of Floyd Hill. Buffalo Bill's grave and the Chief Hosa campground come and go. Exits weave off toward the mountain suburbs of Genesee and Evergreen. As I passed those landmarks my wheeled love held eighty, and joyfully toyed with ninety. For me and the German girl with the perfect body and the motor to match, the mountain curves and passes were mere playthings. And that moment, that day, I was trying to let it all be about the driving; I barely noticed any of the scenery flying by. In fact, the only reason I recalled seeing the Evergreen exit at all was because on the overpass I spotted another man standing with yet another cell phone to his ear.

More law enforcement? I wondered. Odd.

For half an eye blink, just before I flashed below him, I could have sworn the man was pointing at my car or gesturing toward me with his free hand, but I wiped the image out of my consciousness by letting myself be consumed for an instant with the juvenile fantasy that the bridge was the finish line and I was an Earnhardt cousin raising a fist skyward at the checkered flag at Daytona.

A third man. A third cell phone.

No overpass the third time.

This man was a little farther down the road, near the top of the hill where Highway 65 joins up with the freeway. A white Escalade was parked on the right shoulder, hood up in the air, emergency blinkers pulsing. The man I spotted—I was looking for guys near the road by then— stood at the rear of the SUV, and he, of course, had a cell phone to his ear. As I passed by I could see him talking, and nodding. His eyes, I thought, seemed to be tracking my red Porsche's progress as his neck rotated to follow me down the road.


First? A simple, huh? Followed by an uh-oh.

Then came the damn.

Could this be it?

Could it?

I've never known what the next section of I-70, the one just west of El Rancho, is called, but I always figured that it had to have a name. It's the kind of stretch of road that over the years should have earned a nefarious handle. Something like the “Death Drop” would have been appropriate.

The girl from Stuttgart and I were cresting the El Rancho hill above that long, steep downhill section of highway. The lanes that stretch out below teeter on the edge of an almost straight ridge as it descends at an acute angle into the rocky canyons along Clear Creek. To the right, off the downhill shoulder of the road, is a cliff. How high is the cliff? Too high. Lots of air. From the concrete lanes drivers can't even see how far they'd soar if they misjudged their way on that side of the interstate.

It's just as well. It isn't a survivable fall.

Experienced truckers find low gears in order to spare their brakes on this stretch of 70, and their crawling rigs almost always clog the right two lanes on the downhill side. The slope is steep enough that inexperienced mountain drivers, and even some experienced ones, see their carefully modulated seventy miles per hour become eighty-five or ninety or even ninety-five before they figure out exactly what effect gravity is having on their control of their cars. I knew from dozens—hell, hundreds—of prior journeys along the route that I could count on a stream of red brake lights flashing on in front of me as drivers fought to harness the sudden increase in speed foisted upon them during their descent.

I also knew that at the bottom of the long downhill a constellation of geographic features and design complications conspired to further confound the drivers who were already struggling with the gravitational challenges of the cruel section of road. Within the space of a few hundred yards at the bottom of the hill, the posted speed limit was suddenly reduced from seventy-five to fifty, Highway 6 merged into I-70, the number of westbound lanes decreased from four to three and then suddenly to two, and—and—a not-so-subtle wall of rough granite a few hundred feet high insisted that the roadway make an abrupt change in course almost ninety degrees to the west. For the half mile or so that came next, the narrowed path hugged the radically curving outlines of Clear Creek. Towering granite walls loomed overhead on both sides.

Despite the upcoming hazards I wasn't foreseeing a need to tap my girl's brakes on the downhill. History told me that the Porsche and I could dodge the trucks and weave past the slower cars regardless of how many lanes were available. The Carrera and I only needed one lane for ourselves, we didn't need all of it, and we needed it only briefly. The posted speed limit was inconsequential to me; taking a highway curve at eighty miles an hour that pedestrian cars took at fifty meant nothing to me and my little fräulein.

We were both designed for it, regardless of what the highway engineers and the Colorado State Patrol might think to the contrary.

I first noticed the flatbed truck when I was in the fast lane about a quarter of the way down the hill below El Rancho. The rig—it had a tall cab and an extended, stake-lined open bed that was filled with neat rows of fifty-gallon metal drums—was in front of me a couple of lanes over, nearing the halfway point of the long descent. It appeared to me that the driver of the truck was making a rookie mistake, moving into the lane adjacent to mine to try to pass a couple of tractor-trailers crawling hub-to-hub in the two far-right lanes. The computer in my head immediately organized the equation: The eighteen-wheelers were in low gear going, maybe, twenty miles per hour. I was doing eighty-five, ninety. The open-bed truck had accelerated to something in the vicinity of thirty- five or forty to pass the bigger trucks. In the left two lanes in front of me, five or six smaller vehicles dotted the highway between me and the converging rigs.

The cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks were cruising downhill at various speeds between sixty and eighty.

The skill of the drivers? I decided that the safest thing for me was to assume that the other drivers sucked.

The algebra wasn't complicated: Would the flatbed truck with the oil drums finish passing the tractor-trailers and vacate its current lane before the cluster of cars and pickups in front of me were forced to squeeze together into the fast lane—the one smack in front of me—to avoid the temporary blockade caused by the three big trucks descending in consort down below? It was going to be close, I decided.

Without any further deliberation my right foot shifted slightly at the ankle, the base of my big toe prepared to find purchase on the brake pedal, my left foot lifted up off the floor and hovered above the pad of the clutch, and the base of the palm of my right hand found the trailing edge of the gear shift, readying for the motion necessary to flick the smooth knob from fourth gear back down into third.

As I eased off on the accelerator and the rpm wound down, I once again heard the unwelcome melody of tinny clatter from the valves.

Got to tune you, baby girl. Got to tune you up.

It's the thinking that we don't try to do but that our magical brains do anyway that distinguishes the human animal from the machines we build. We can teach our machines to solve problems and even to ponder the value of various innovative solutions, but we haven't yet figured out how to teach the machines to recognize novel problems that will ultimately require us to use other machines to help us find solutions. For now, at least, that's still the stuff of humanity.

Unbidden by me, that's exactly what my mind was busy doing in the next few milliseconds as it changed effortlessly from the consideration of the algebra of gravity, variable speeds, crappy drivers, available lanes, and currently present vehicles, into the consideration of the calculus of a problem set that included an entirely novel set of variables: three men on cell phones watching traffic at three different locations on the same small stretch of Colorado interstate, constricted flow on a historically dangerous downhill section of highway, and an open-bed truck that was lined with seemingly innocuous big black drums.

My brain's assessment of those facts was confounded by one brand-new piece of information that it threw into the problem set: Big, rectangular red lights were beaming on each side of the back of the flatbed truck that was transporting the big metal drums.

The truck driver was hitting his brakes.


I reached an instant, terrifying conclusion: The truck wasn't accelerating to pass the two tractor- trailers. It was braking to stay even with them.


My mind chose to take the developing conundrum one step further, instinctively including a seemingly extraneous variable in its calculation: the y variable, the variable that I'd been consciously adding into almost every novel problem set that had crossed my path over the past few days.

The y variable was the small matter of the standing commitment from the Death Angels. How to precisely weight the y variable had been proving to be a tough thing for me to figure, primarily because the people charged with implementing the y variable had proven to be an imaginative bunch. Before I was even consciously aware that I actually had the acute new problem—the driving-down-this-hill and surviving this apparent Death Angels assault problem—I was actively struggling with the chronic dilemma I'd had since Adam left Providence, which was the whole general Death Angel survival problem.

The novel problem? The current assault? I read it this way: Over the last ten minutes or so I had apparently been driving past a series of predetermined checkpoints manned by men with mobile phones who were sending along news of my progress to the driver of the flatbed with the black drums on the back so he could precisely time his descent on this treacherous downhill stretch of Interstate 70.

But why? What do they have planned?

My brain was ready with the answer.

Instantaneously, the whole scenario made such perfect sense that I wasn't even surprised when the first shiny black barrel somehow slid uphill off the truck bed and bounced hard off the concrete ribbon of highway.

Instantly, left foot: clutch.

Right foot: brake.

Right hand: downshift. Fourth to third.

The tach needle jumped. The rpm soared close to the red zone. The 911 flexed and she readied. She knew me well, and she knew I wouldn't have done what I'd done to her unless something important was up.

The second and third barrels seemed to fly off the truck simultaneously a fraction of a second later. A pickup truck a couple of hundred yards in front of me swerved right—too hard—to avoid one of the drums. He overcompensated to the left before severely overcompensating once more back to the right. By then he was up precariously on two wheels, and a split second later the crew-cab Dodge slid left until it careened into the air, launched by the sloped Jersey barrier that separated the uphill lanes from the down. I heard and felt the resulting crash as the flying truck exploded into the vehicle of some unsuspecting driver in the uphill lanes, but I was beyond the conflagration before my eyes could make any sense of it.

I didn't dare take my eyes from the road to check the mirror and the carnage.

Left foot: clutch.

Right foot: brake.

Right hand: downshift. This time into second.

The old girl's engine screamed in protest at the back pressure I was insisting she endure. I wasn't worried about her, though; she wouldn't let me down. She never had.

And hey, there was no valve clatter at those rpm.

In front of me—and not very far in front of me—the barrels continued to tumble off the flatbed in twos and threes. The first ones off were bouncing past me on the highway just as the latest ones were tumbling from the bed of the truck.

A Lexus SUV, desperate to avoid a collision with a flying drum, sideswiped a Nissan sedan fifty yards ahead. Together they kept weaving into and away from each other, their dance completely filling the little space that remained between the three side-by-side trucks and the center highway barricade, effectively obliterating my only easy avenue to escape the tumbling drums.

The barrel that I knew was the one that was destined to hit me—the one that figuratively had my name on it—slid solo off the truck's flatbed, bouncing once, only once, before hanging back up in the air as though it were a guided missile waiting for me to drive into position beneath it.

Which, of course, I was about to do.

That is apparently what fate required of me at that moment.

And that's precisely what I was doing.


Where to start with this guy? This shrink?


Eventually, maybe. Soon, hopefully.

Not the first day, though. Certainly not the first hour.

Not with a stranger. The stakes were way too high.

The first day? The first day—it was a fine autumn day—he'd have to settle for the truth.

Not the whole truth, not nothing-but-the-truth. But the truth.

We'd both have to settle for that.

“You ever get massages?” I asked him.

Yes, that's how I started the first session with him. Un-frigging-believable.

What the hell? I thought. Where on earth did that come from?

“You ever get massages?” Did I really ask him that? I certainly hadn't planned to start out that way, but that's exactly what came dribbling out of my mouth, even before I'd sat down in the chair across from Dr. Alan Gregory.

His eyes narrowed a little in response to my question. Maybe he raised his right shoulder enough that I could have considered it a shrug. Maybe not. I took the combined movements to mean “sure,” but they could just as easily have meant “what difference does it make?” Most likely the gestures constituted a vague editorial about the peculiar manner that I'd chosen to begin the first psychotherapy session of my life.

“I find that they help,” I said. “Massages. I've been getting a couple a week.” As an afterthought, I tagged the word “lately” onto the end of the sentence.

Help with what? He could have asked me, maybe should have asked me. But he didn't. He sat silently, waiting for something. Was he demonstrating patience, or indifference? Time would tell. Time, though, was something I didn't have in abundance. At that moment I was feeling neither patience nor indifference. Were our roles reversed, I know I would have asked the “help-you-with- what” question.

No doubt about it. I would have asked. Yep.

If he had asked I would have told him I meant help with the fact that I was dying, though I wouldn't have told him yet exactly how complicated my dying was turning out to be.

Truth, yes.

Honesty, not quite yet.

“The massage therapist I see? Her name is Cinda. She's good. Very good. Little-known fact: Some massage therapists do the bulk of their work one-handed. They do; it's not like with a baseball pitcher, or a cook, though. A painter, whatever. The dominant hand changes depending on what she's working on, where she's standing. Sometimes it's left, sometimes it's right. But what makes Cinda so good at what she does—truly special—is what she does with the other hand, the one that's not doing the heavy lifting.”

I felt suddenly exhausted. The lassitude came on in an instant and floored me, like I'd been idiotic enough to turn my back to the ocean and had ended up getting flattened by a twelve-foot curl of breaking indolence. If this guy in front of me had been an analytic shrink with a cracked-leather Sigmund chaise and was sitting in front of me dripping old Viennese attitude, I might have stretched out and rolled over onto my side to be contrary. But he was a pedestrian Colorado Ph.D. in a pedestrian old Victorian in downtown Boulder and it was apparent that he'd organized the furniture in his office so that our time together was going to be face-to-face.

I asked, “Do you mind if I put my feet up?”

What was he going to do? Be a jerk, say no? He opened his hands in a be-my-guest gesture. What is this guy, I wondered, a mime? I lifted my heavy legs and rested my beat-up sneakers on the scratched wood of a table that said old, not antique. The change in posture eased my fatigue a little. Every little bit helped.

The dramatic increase in fatigue I was feeling was a new thing. The doctors couldn't explain it. I was still adjusting to it.

Other than his brief introduction in the tiny waiting room—“Hello, I'm Alan Gregory. Please come in” ——he finally spoke his first words to me. He said, “The other hand?”

I'll give him credit for something: He made the short phrase sound somewhat consequential. And he let me know he'd been paying attention.

“I actually think of it as her 'off hand,' not her other hand,” I said. “The working hand is the reason we're there, of course. It's the business hand, and she knows her business. Cinda's intuitive—she finds tightness I don't even know I have. She kneads it. Traces it. Stretches it. Finds the origin of a muscle like she's an explorer looking for the headwater of a river. Then nine times out of ten, she gets the tension to release. What I'm saying is she does the job that needs doing, but she does it mostly with one strong hand at a time. Sometimes the off hand helps—does some of the same work—but most of the time . . . no, not. It's one working hand, and one off hand.”

How did he reply to that little speech? His eyes invited me to go on. That was all. It was a subtle thing, but to me the invitation was as clear as if a calligrapher had penned it on good linen paper, sealed it with wax, and had it handed to me by a liveried messenger.

Thea could do that, too—talk to me in complete sentences using only her eyes.

He and I would talk about Thea later.

Why, I wondered, was I babbling on with this guy about my massage therapist's hands? I still didn't have an answer to that one, but I went with the momentum, mostly because fighting it and doing something else would have required stamina I didn't have.

“Despite how good her working hand does its job, her off hand is the reason I go back to her.” He sent me another invitation with his eyes. Or he repeated the same invitation. I wasn't totally sure which.

The rhythm of the therapy dance was becoming clear: I would appear to lead. He would appear to follow. The reality would, of course, probably turn out to be something altogether different. I reminded myself that I'd decided to be honest with him. Otherwise, what was the point?

I said, “Sometimes she'll just rest it a few inches from where she's working with her business hand. If she's doing my lower back, she might rest her off hand on my hip. If she's working my shoulder, she might rest it on my neck. No real pressure. That's not true, maybe some pressure. A light stroke, a gentle squeeze. But no real work. The other hand is doing the work. Most of the time her off hand doesn't join in—it's not there for that. It's there for ...”

Could he think I'm talking about sex? “I'm not talking about sex. In case you're wondering. When I talk about sex, I'll talk about sex. That's not one of my things—discomfort with sex. This is about something else entirely.” I glanced at his left hand. He wore a ring. “You married?”

He grazed the ring with the soft pad of his thumb. Involuntary? Maybe. He didn't answer me. Or maybe he did. If he did, I missed it.

“I am,” I said. “Sometimes—maybe most of the time—when my wife does things for me they're part of the deal, the marriage deal. She does x, I do y. She makes dinner; I make money. But sometimes she does something for me and I know it's meant to be a gift, something special. Something that's not part of the deal. That's what Cinda's off hand does during the massage; it's the one that says that whatever's going on at that moment isn't just a job, isn't only part of the deal, that she cares a little, that I'm not just another blob of flesh on her table, that it's not all about my muscles yielding to her fingers. That we're not only trading my money for her time.”

I inhaled and exhaled before he replied. He said, “That's important to you?”

His words stopped me. Isn't that a universal truth? Wouldn't it be important to anybody? “Of course,” I said.

Of course.

“Her off hand provides ... tenderness?” he said. “Is that a good word for what you're describing?” I crossed one ankle over the other, and the change in posture offered some temporary relief. “I think about it more as a caress, but 'tenderness' is a good word for it. Yes.”

“And it's the reason you go back to her?”

“Cinda's good at what she does, but plenty of people are good at what they do. Yeah, I guess the truth is that the reason I keep go-ing back to her is because of how she manages her off hand. For the kindness, the tenderness. It's important. Essential even.” I tacked on, “For me.”

The shrink was silent for most of a minute. At first I thought he was waiting for me to start up again, but I saw something in his face that told me that maybe he was working on something. So I waited, too. Finally, he seemed to find whatever he'd been seeking. He said, “And ... you're wondering whether you'll get it here? The tenderness? Whether I'm going to turn out to be all business, or whether I have an off hand, too?”

Actually, that wasn't what I'd been thinking at all.

What I'd been wondering was what it was about this bland little room, and about this unfamiliar, relatively bland man, that had somehow got me babbling about Cinda and the seductiveness of her off hand.

“Maybe,” I said.

He let me digest my response. When he thought I'd had enough time, he added a coda. “You told me your massage therapist's name, but not your wife's.”

It wasn't a question.

Not at all.


I hadn't told him much on the phone when I set up the appointment.

My last name, as common as dirt, revealed nothing. I'd introduced myself using the nickname my oldest friends had hung on me decades before. I'd told Alan Gregory, Ph.D., that I'd gotten the referral to him from a business associate, which was only a bit of a stretch, that I had some things going on in my life that I was eager to discuss—that part was absolutely the truth—and that on the first day I wanted to see him twice, with some time in between. One session—or appointment, or whatever the hell he called it—in the morning, one more mid-afternoon on the same day. That would be ideal.

He initially balked at my request for dual appointments, but relented when I explained that my schedule was in a “difficult phase.” We worked out the times we would meet. Ten in the morning. Then again at two-thirty the same afternoon.

I didn't tell him I'd be flying into the nearby Jefferson County Airport solely for the purpose of seeing him, nor did I tell him that I'd be flying back out the same day as soon as we were done. I didn't moan that it would have been much more convenient to use the Boulder Airport, but that my plane needed just a little bit more runway than the Boulder field had to offer.

Nor did I tell him the two appointments could be considered an audition. In my mind, when you meet somebody new it's always an audition. You don't always know which one of you is auditioning, or for what. But every introduction is an audition.

If this shrink had earned even half his doctorate, I figured he already knew that.

I left his office after the first session that morning without revealing that I'd made a decision that I thought I could work with him. I was worried that if I'd told him he'd passed the test, he would have asked me what the test was.

I didn't know the answer. I only knew he'd passed.

Or he'd have asked why I needed a test.

I didn't know the answer to that, either.

Therapy was already turning out to be more complicated than I'd anticipated.

In between my two appointments with Dr. Gregory, I took a taxi across Boulder to the local Toyota dealership, asked the cabbie to wait a few minutes, and managed—as I knew I would—to get accosted by a salesman before I made it all the way to the front door.

All fake friendliness, the salesman—I pegged him as an ex-frat boy who liked beer more than he liked just about anything else—thrust out his hand and said, “I'm Chuck Richter, and you are ...”

Not in the fucking mood.

His handshake was too firm by half, too robust by a factor of three.

I considered retracing my steps to the waiting cab, sighed, and steeled myself with a promise that this experience would soon be over.

“Chuck?” I said with my most ingratiating smile plastered across my face—the smile I used to use when, before I had more money than I needed, I would be trying to finagle or seduce a first-class upgrade from a clerk at the check-in counter at the airport. Chuck and I made good eye contact, and he reflexively matched my smile with a grin that registered like a fingernail on a chalkboard in my soul.

“Yeah?” he said.

“I need to be out of here in fifteen minutes, thirty tops. When I leave, I want to drive away in a new Prius, any new Prius. 2006? 2007? Doesn't matter. Color? I don't care. Equipment? Whatever you got. Demo? Fine. Here's what I'd like to happen next, right now even. You go to your sales manager and get me a number. If I like the number, I pay cash for the car and I'm on my way in my new Prius in time to make my lunch appointment.

“If you're not back here with a number for me in five minutes, or if the number you bring back makes me think you and your sales manager are trying to take a lot of advantage of me, rather than just a little advantage of me, I'm going to get back into that taxi over there and go to the Honda dealership on Arapahoe and make some salesman just like you the exact same offer on one of their hybrids. You have a single chance to do this deal. No negotiating. Are we clear? You and I? A hundred percent clear?”

Chuck nodded in little narrow jerks. His eyes were wide at the challenge, as though I was a stranger in a bar who'd walked up to him and offered to buy him and his buddies beers and shooters all night long if he'd simply munch down a fresh habanero.

I thought he was wondering if he could pull it off. But maybe, just maybe, I'd misread him and he had more balls than I was giving him credit for and he was wondering how to play things to his advantage with his sales manager.


He nodded again—those same quick little jerks of his wide chin—his eyes still big as nickels. “I'm not screwing with you. One chance to get this right.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Don't screw with me.”

“I wouldn't do that.”

“Yes, you would. But dovn't.”

It took the various players thirty-five minutes to get the paperwork together and finally to give up trying to sell me all the extra crap—extended warranty? You've got to be kidding—that car dealers hawk to pad their profits. While I waited for this form and that form to be prepared, I strolled out and sent the taxi on its way.vv

When I returned, Chuck actually asked me if I had anything I wanted to trade.

I told him I had plenty of cars, but nothing I wanted to sell. I was just making conversation to keep him at bay.

“You a collector? Old cars?” he asked. It was either a lucky guess, or Chuck had the inborn Doppler radar of a born salesman.

“No. I have an old Porsche, but I still drive it. An eighty-eight 911.”

“Wow. What color? Red?”

“Yeah, red.” Two good guesses for Chuck.

“The coup, not the Cabriolet, right?” he said.

I nodded. Chuck was three for three. Note to self: Don't play poker with Chuck. “I bought it in 1993.”

“Shit,” Chuck said. “This Prius ain't no Carrera.”

“More honest words have never been spoken by a car salesman,” I replied.

To get away from Chuck I strolled over to the parts department and picked out a car cover for my new 2006 Prius—the 2007 models hadn't arrived yet. When I got back to Chuck's desk, he was ready for my money. He led me down the hall and I sat obediently in the designated mark's chair in the finance manager's prison cell of an office while I called my banker on my mobile phone and authorized a wire.

In order to pry the keys out of the clutch of Chuck's fist, I actu-ally had to convince him that I didn't want his personal, extra-special new-car orientation any more than I wanted a colonoscopy without anesthesia.

A few minutes later I drove away in the new hybrid and found my way back across downtown Boulder to a flat that was on the second floor of a lovely old house on Pine Street just east of the Hotel Boulderado. I parked the Prius in back, and let myself inside with a key I'd begged from the friend who kept the apartment as a pied-à-terre for the rare occasions he was in Colorado. He owned a company in Boulder with which I'd done a lot of business over the years, and I could tell—when I had asked him if I could use his apartment occasionally—that he thought I had something going on the side. I let him believe it. As long as he didn't gossip about it, his suspicions were fine with me.

I collapsed onto the bed in the flat's only bedroom and fell asleep wondering if I'd live long enough to figure out what the fun graphic display meant on the little screen in the middle of my new car's dash.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 26 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2007

    Thought-provoking thriller is the real deal

    Stephen White never disappoints me with his stories-- they are always well-written, intelligent studies on various psychological issues that are relevant to most people, couched in a thriller motif. With Kill Me, however, Mr. White has really raised the bar for the genre as a whole. From having an anonymous main character --something that would be merely an annoying plot contrivance by lesser authors-- to the completely engrossing story that continually made me think and feel --difficult to sustain in most thrillers-- White has written a surprisingly beautiful story not to be missed. This is one of those rare stories that will actually stay with me for a long time, and I'm so very grateful to the author for offering the gift of such a lyrical, thoughtful work.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    LOVED IT!!

    This was a fascinating read with suspense, action and insight.
    It is a must read! Wish there were more books like this-I couldn't put it down til I finished it. Looking forward to more intense reading from Stephen White

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2007

    A reviewer

    I read this a while ago but just re-read it and thought I would share my opinion. It is honestly one of the 10 best modern thrillers ever written. White is a great writer who has done it yet again. This is his best book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 15, 2009

    Book title and author: kill me by Stephen White Title of review: Number of stars (1 to 5):5

    This book is about a man who makes a wish and he can't take it back. He wishes that he was dead and in the book he is trying to find a loop hole. He goes to therapy twice a week. He doesn't know what to say to the therapist when he goes because he wants to tell him what he wished for but he doesn't want his therapist to think that he is crazy. The question for you is what if you could pick the time and date for you to die but when the time comes you can't change it?

    One of his friends died when they where skiing down a hill about to get on a plane to go home, later in the book he thinks he's dead but he isn't for sure, later after that no one really likes him anymore only like two or three people because they think that he's crazy.

    My opinion about the book is that it's an amazing book. It talk's about losing friend's, adventure, basically it's mostly drama. I mean the book was very interesting like I no when some people get mad who are my age there always like why can't I just die now and I think if they just read this book and relies hey I'm glad I'm not this guy I take it back I'm glad that I'm alive and I can't my own date and time to die. This book is really inspiring to kid's my age. And it really help's because this book can help out with some of the problems that you have in life.

    Just because the book is called kill me doesn't mean that it's talking about people killing each other it's really a heart warming book. After so long he stop's seeing his therapist and start's to get out a little more. Kid's twelve and under should read this book because of the bad language.

    I think everyone should read the book called kill me I mean besides song of the word's the say it's a great book.

    Anaysia Lee

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 4, 2008

    never put it down

    really great story - kept me up all night

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2008

    Too well written

    It is hard to find great writing. It is hard to develop a great theme. When you find the two that should provide a socko work. Mr. White can write very well. His storyline was unique with a surprise ending. Yet, this book was a labor to finish. The hero, a wealthy businessman, contracts with a clandestine company to kill him if his health deteriorates below a selected level. After passing the company's intensive investigation in which he meets the heroine, he is accepted. The one problem is that the commitment is irreversible. No backing out. Well, you can guess what happens. His situation is clouded by the discovery of a son he didn't know he had, a rediscovery of the desire to be with family, etc., etc. All of this is presented in detail, and detail, and detail. That, in the end, was the problem. Several times I thought to put the book down as its attention to facts, its presentation of intricate exchanges between the characters, its psychological analysis, its long path to an end 'well explained' just seemed to make reading it a struggle. While it gained speed as the conclusion approaced I was happy to finally finish. This was less a tale or story than a painting of a picture through excruciating detail. Little was left to the imagination. A little less writing would have improved the work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2007

    Amazing Novel

    This book was quite possibly one of the best I've read in a long time, though I have to disagree with previous statements about the book starting off intense and staying that way. Granted, it did start off intense, but then cooled down a bit. The novel was very Quitin Tarentino esque, in the fact it starts later in the story and goes back to the beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2006

    On a score of 1-10 - I say 11

    Great read by Stephen White. I love all other Alan Gregory books,but, this is the best.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    It's to DIE for!

    This is one of the best books I've ever read and best book that Mr. White has ever written. So different than his other books in the same series. I felt it was superb even though it veered away from Alan Gregory as the main character. I've recommended it over and over!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2006

    Loved It!

    What a great concept this book was. I was very excited to read this when I picked it up in the bookstore about a month ago. It didn't disppoint me either! I would highly recommend this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2006

    The Concept Beyond Thinkable

    This book is by far, one of the best Mr.White has ever written. It's a page flipper that takes you into a concept beyond thinkable. It revokes our heavy thoughts who should be the one to judge when our lives worth living or not what determines that line between life and death, God or ourselves? The book is well written. It's heavy, thrilling,and deep.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2006

    Not up to par

    I love Mr. White as an author and have read all his books. This one was too repititious, but I still love the way he writes.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    He's back again - the man AudioFile has dubbed a Golden Voice and rightly so because Dick Hill's performances never fail to compel, immediately engaging listeners. Hill has said that when there's a change of scene, such as from day to night, 'he makes a subtle shift with his voice to reflect those environmental changes.' This narrator is at his best when there's suspense afoot as with 'Kill Me.' The question asked in this thought provoking novel by Stephen White is what if you could choose the time you will die? For instance, if you were in extreme pain or permanently disabled and you could determine your time of death, would you do it even if your choice is irrevocable? The protagonist in Stephen White's novel is in that position. It took a friend's terminal illness and his own brush with the grim reaper for the man to discover those who will kill you upon command - the Death Angels. However, once you have paid for this final service there's no turning back, and positively no addendums to the agreement. 'Kill Me' is the best to date in White's well received Dr. Alan Gregory series. Listen as a man fights to break the unbreakable - a pact with the Death Angels. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2006

    White Is A Mastermind

    As a psychology student, I have been a fan of Mr. White for some time. 'Kill Me' only furthers my claim that he is one of the best writers today. The novel starts out very fast and doesn't relent until the very end. In classic White fashion the book deals with very sensitive subjects, but they are handled very well. My only gripe is that the ending was a bit predictable but it doesn't hinder what essentially is a fantastic novel.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    thought provoking thriller

    He is a patient of clinical psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory, happily married with a young daughter when he had a near death experience while skiing. He is fortunate to survive as his reflexes kept him alive, but as he explains to his shrink, he ponders an exit strategy struggling to decide the bankruptcy point in which death is superior to life. He signs a contract with the mysterious Death Angel Inc. in which he pays them in consideration for them to kill him when his lifestyle reaches the agreed-upon point of no return. --- When his health deteriorates, he soon learns about the hidden clauses in his contract starting with an incident caused by Death Angel agents that occurs while he drives with a passenger on I-70 in Colorado. His reflexes save their lives, but other drivers are hurt perhaps dead as nothing prohibits collateral damage. --- This thought provoking thriller will leave readers wondering at what point is life not worth living just like the nameless patient did and eventually acted upon to his regret. The fast-paced action story line never slows down yet propels the audience, even the err on the side of life crowd, to consider an exit strategy. Interestingly in what is probably his best work to date, Stephen White¿s hero, Dr. Gregory serves as a support player to the anonymous star of the deep KILL ME. --- Harriet Klausner

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    Posted March 4, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2011

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    Posted December 27, 2011

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