Manner of Death

Manner of Death

4.0 13
by Stephen White

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The past resurfaces in ways that are as intimate as they are frightening when Dr. Alan Gregory and Dr. Sawyer Sackett-a woman he once loved-are plunged into the private nightmare of a killer who knows about the terrifying power of mind games.


The past resurfaces in ways that are as intimate as they are frightening when Dr. Alan Gregory and Dr. Sawyer Sackett-a woman he once loved-are plunged into the private nightmare of a killer who knows about the terrifying power of mind games.

Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Albert L. LeCount
Death List Ever make a move that's come back to haunt you later in life? Ever take a relatively innocuous step one day that ended up spelling tragedy on another; one that possibly resulted in the deaths of numerous colleagues and friends? Well, we certainly hope not -- but that's the frightening premise of Manner of Death, the latest spellbinding psychological romp from New York Times bestselling novelist Stephen White (Critical Conditions) and his character Dr. Alan Gregory.

Although Alan never really considered himself a close friend of Dr. Arnold Dresser, the two did endure their psychology residency together at the University of Colorado way back in 1982; Dresser would always send a friendly Christmas card along each year, and even though Alan never really returned the sentiment, Dresser continued to at least feign an interest in staying somewhat in touch. So when Dresser -- an avid, although not a risk-taking, hiker -- fell to his death during a relatively simple ascent, Alan felt that he really ought to attend the funeral to pay his respects. Little did he suspect that shortly afterward his world would be turned completely upside down.

Following the funeral, Alan and Lauren -- whom Stephen White enthusiasts will recognize as Gregory's tough yet lovable, MS-plagued attorney spouse -- decide to head up the mountains for a visit to their favorite out-of-the-way restaurant. But Alan and Lauren aren't alone on these backwater trails. While the couple is anxiously awaiting the delivery of their tasty nachos, an enigmatic woman approaches their table. She introduces herself as Dr. A. J. Simes, an ex-FBI agent and current private investigator who claims to be working for Arnold Dresser's distressed mother, who fears that her son's death was not an accident at all but a premeditated act of murder. Simes proceeds to alert Alan that over the past decade, numerous members of his psychiatry unit at the University of Colorado have died suspicious deaths. According to Simes, only two members are, in fact, still alive -- Alan and a woman named Dr. Sawyer Sackett, with whom, we soon discover, Alan was involved in a brief but extremely intimate relationship.

Following the initial shock, Lauren is quick to question Simes's credibility. If such is the case, why are we being told by a private investigator other than the FBI? "Manner of death," is Simes's quick and confident response. Apparently, each of Alan's colleagues died in vastly different ways (one was killed in a drive-by shooting, another was horribly burned in a tanning bed accident, another died in a plane crash, etc.). Since FBI profilers believe that most serial murderers exhibit killing trends, to them this situation is nothing more than a series of horrible coincidences.

That's the setup for White's gripping story about hidden identities, shocking truths, love, friendship, and death. White tells his tale with remarkable clarity and skill and really builds the tension well. His characters are very human and three-dimensional as each makes mistakes and exhibits very plausible emotions and concerns in the face of an unknown adversary. The reader is regularly forced to the edge of his or her seat -- this trend increases dramatically during the final 100 pages. One reason is the plotting; not only do our characters not know who their killer is or why he's attempting to end their lives; for a while they don't even know if there really is a killer at all. This situation allows the very human traits of carelessness and denial to raise their ugly and, in this case, potentially deadly heads.

Even if the reader has never read an Alan Gregory thriller before, Manner of Death comes highly recommended. Don't fret -- this was the reviewer's first crack at one too; chances are it won't be his last either.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The invigorating twists and turns of practicing psychologist White's (Privileged Information) new Alan Gregory thriller drag readers over rugged Colorado terrain, past a gauntlet of eccentric characters spawned by the Rocky Mountain lifestyle, through the most intimate details of the protagonists' lives, leaving them gasping at the switchback ending of this chilling stalker novel. Attending the funeral of a former colleague, Boulder psychologist Alan learns from two quirky ex-FBI agents that this is the latest in a string of clueless murders targeting the entire group of students, supervisors and staff who shared Alan's clinical psychology residency some years earlier. Only Alan and his former lover, Dr. Sawyer Sackett, now survive, and they are undoubtedly next on the killer's hit list. Alan's wife, Lauren, a prosecuting attorney afflicted with multiple sclerosis, is threatened as well, but throws her considerable skills fully into the fray. Alan's friend on the Boulder police force, Detective Sam Purdy, provides police clout, FBI equalizing and protection for Lauren. The pros go after former patients, but Alan and Sawyer snoop best, tracing a lead involving legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper and some truly disturbed suspects. White conveys his love for Colorado and his profession while delivering an evaluation of the mental health industry. Martinet shrinks and caring analysts get equal billing, while both the promise and limitations of psychology are cleanly spelled out. A newly honed sense of humor adds zip to White's prose without detracting a mite from the menace and gore.
Kirkus Reviews
Dr. Alan Gregory, the Boulder psychologist whose previous six cases (Critical Conditions) have all introduced him to murderers, becomes a killer's target himself. The news comes when Gregory travels to Denver for his old school acquaintance Dr. Arnold Dresser's funeral. A pair of retired FBI agents hired by Dresser's mother lay out an elaborate pattern of accidents stretching back 10 years, all involving members of the 1982 Orange Unit on Eight East of the University of Colorado's Health Sciences Center. Long before Dresser froze to death after a mountain-climbing accident, Gregory's supervising psychiatrist died in a plane crash; his fellow residents have fallen victim to malfunctioning tanning beds, disappeared from cruise ships, and been slain in drive-by shootings. And now, the ex-Feebies tell him, it's his turn, since he and Dr. Sawyer Sackett Faire are the only surviving alumni of the 1982 Orange Unit. Gregory's terror is mixed with guilt and fascination, since he can't forget the torrid affair he and the beautiful, unapproachable Sawyer carried on during their residency. Now, when he does see her again, after replaying his memories of their earlier romance in unsparing detail, henll not only be able (under the direst possible circumstances) to get naked with her once more but will even find out secrets she was carrying around 17 years ago, though not before the killer booby-traps the renovation at Gregory's house, tampers with his furnace, and sends his wife, ADA Lauren Crowder, and their dog to the hospital. The murderer, Gregory feverishly realizes, could be anybody connected with Eight Eastnthe ex-patient reborn as a CNN anchor, the chess-playing schizophrenic Gregorywas forced to release, the man who offered to trade the identity of real-life airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper for his ticket off the floornand that wide set of choices is just the problem with this action-filled, unfocused suspenser. White is so good at pumping up menace that some readers will forgive the loose ends and high-energy, low-rationality windup. Not all of them, though.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Alan Gregory Series, #7
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.11(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Jonathan Kellerman
A complex, engrossing page-turner.

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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Manner of Death 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first Stephen White book I read and I loved it. The story had me at the edge of my seat for 4 days as I read it. The only thing I didn't like as the ending felt rushed. Other than that the book was great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stephen always writes so well! His intrapersonal comments are so humorous and the way he builds the plot keeps the reader engaged. Sawyer was a great compliment to Alan and the chemistry between them was superb. I would highly recommend this book
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first stephen white book i read and i agree it was a great book but the ending did feel a little rushed..i do plan to read more of his books, i already ordered one....loved the book though i couldnt put it down!