Manner of Death

( 12 )

Overview

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.

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
Compelling.
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.
Chicago Tribune
Compelling.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451197030
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Series: Dr. Alan Gregory Series , #7
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 271,790
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 6.78 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen White
Stephen White is a clinical psychologist and a New York Times bestselling author of eighteen previous crime novels, including The Siege and The Last Lie. He lives in Colorado.

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 4.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2000

    Just a really great book.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    LIBRARY

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2012

    Great book!

    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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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2003

    Great book

    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!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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