BN.com Gift Guide

The Program

( 14 )

Overview

They promised you’d be safe.

They were wrong.

It started with a convicted killer’s first threat of revenge...

“For every precious thing I lose, you lose two.”

DA Kirsten Lord saw her husband gunned down before her eyes. Now Kirsten is living in fear, telling her secrets to psychologist Alan Gregory ... and hiding deep in the Witness ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (164) from $1.99   
  • New (10) from $1.99   
  • Used (154) from $1.99   
The Program

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$7.99
BN.com price
Marketplace
BN.com

All Available Formats & Editions

Overview

They promised you’d be safe.

They were wrong.

It started with a convicted killer’s first threat of revenge...

“For every precious thing I lose, you lose two.”

DA Kirsten Lord saw her husband gunned down before her eyes. Now Kirsten is living in fear, telling her secrets to psychologist Alan Gregory ... and hiding deep in the Witness Protection Program,where every stranger is a threat, every phone call is a menace.

Until she realizes ... The Program is the deadliest place of all.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
Trauma Within the Witness "Destruction" Program
The Program is Stephen White's ninth novel, and it offers a slight but effective departure from the main line of his career. Like his previous eight novels, The Program features White's recurring protagonist, clinical psychologist Alan Gregory. Unlike those earlier books, this one casts Gregory as a supporting player in a larger drama, a drama involving a woman on the run, an assortment of professional hit men, and the unnatural pressures of day-to-day life in the Witness Protection Program.

The woman on the run is Kirsten Lord, a New Orleans-based D.A. who successfully prosecutes a local drug dealer for a series of rapes, then finds herself threatened with violent reprisals. "Remember this," the dealer tells her on the day of his conviction. "Every precious thing I lose, you will lose two." Several weeks later, that grim prophecy begins to come true, as Kirsten's husband is shot to death. Shortly afterward, when an unknown woman nearly succeeds in abducting her daughter, Kirsten enters the Witness Security Program (WITSEC) and attempts to establish a new, anonymous existence in Boulder, Colorado.

White excels at conveying the tension, trauma, and sense of dislocation inherent in shedding the remnants of an old life and beginning a new one. Kirsten Lord (now Peyton Francis) finds herself facing a particularly complex set of circumstances. To begin with, her previous history as an outspoken critic of WITSEC's policies has earned her a number of enemies within the program itself. In addition, her belated efforts to halt the execution of an innocent man -- a man she helped convict -- make her the target of a vicious killer with an undisclosed agenda of his own. Throughout all this, the initial threat that drove her into hiding remains in force, looming relentlessly over the narrative.

The Program recounts, with considerable authority, one woman's struggle to make her way through this minefield of possibilities to a place of potential safety. Along the way, she finds a number of unexpected allies, including Alan Gregory, her program-appointed therapist; Lauren Crowder, Alan's very pregnant wife; and Carl Luppo, a retired Mafia hit man who takes Kirsten under his wing and saves her life on more than one occasion. White handles these various elements with an easy, understated mastery and treats his heroine's dilemma with intelligence, humor, and sympathy. The result is an incisive, psychologically acute thriller that successfully illuminates a little-known corner of the criminal justice system. It clearly represents a large step forward for a gifted, underrated writer.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has recently been published by Subterranean Press .

From the Publisher
“A page-turner!”—Iris Johansen

“You’ll not read a more suspenseful or better-crafted novel this year.”—Plain Dealer, Cleveland

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Once it recovers from a wobbly beginning, this ninth thriller in the bestselling series featuring Boulder, Colo., clinical psychologist Alan Gregory sprints competently along. Peyton Francis, aka Kirsten Lord, was once a New Orleans district attorney. Now she and her nine-year-old daughter are enrolled in the witness protection program, in hiding from Peyton's husband's assassin, who was most likely hired by a Colombian drug lord Peyton put away for life. Given a new ID and moved to Boulder, Peyton is befriended by another witness protection participant, a former mob hitman who, like herself, is referred by the Feds to Dr. Gregory for counseling. Plagued by doubts about the federal marshal entrusted with her safety and tortured by second thoughts about the impending execution of a black man she may have mistakenly sent to death row in Florida, Peyton races against time to stay the Florida execution, and is forced to go into hiding from the very witness protection forces assigned to protect her. The usually sure-handed White is guilty of some artless writing at the novel's start, creating a veritable obstacle course of meandering points of view, including an obscure long-running metaphoric thread linking repressed memories to images of a pod of whales. However, once the narrative drive settles mainly into Peyton's first-person voice, the story comes handily together. Featuring an interesting cast, including a young Texas schoolmarm turned professional hit person, a sinister cabal of federal marshals with hidden agendas and an entrepreneurial assassination broker in Atlanta, the narrative drives to an edge-of-your-seat denouement. Author tour. (Apr.) Forecast: This is not White's best effort, but fans of the series will check in to catch up on Alan Gregory's adventures his wife is pregnant with their first child in this installment. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
After the murder of her husband, Kirsten Lord, a New Orleans district attorney and her nine-year-old daughter are sent into the U.S. Marshal's Witness Security Program (WITSEC) when a local drug dealer and rapist she prosecuted threatens them. She is relocated to Colorado, where she meets with Alex Gregory (White's psychologist hero) because he has been contracted by WITSEC to interview and monitor those in the group. Kirsten's position is tenuous: prior to the events that drove her into the program she was a critic of it, so she receives threats as a result. Another concern involves her best friend, a prosecutor she worked with to convict a man years before who is now scheduled to be executed, but because of new information, they are no longer certain he committed the crime. White's ability to create drama, suspense, and weave plots together in a thrilling d nouement, as well as develop a fine cast, makes this a real treat. Sandra Burr's voice inflections for the various characters add to the entertainment. A good choice for audio collections. Steven J. Mayover, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Sentenced drug dealer Ernesto Castro warns New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Kirstin Lord that for every thing he loses, she will lose twice. A few weeks later, Kirstin goes to meet her spouse Robert at the Galatoire restaurant, but sees the hitman wearing the Saints cap assassinate her husband. Though grieving her loss, Kirstin realizes that Castro said "twice" and worries that her eight-year old daughter Amy will be next.Ironically, Kirstin, a vocal critic of the witness protection program hiding killers from justice, enters the Federal witness security program. She becomes Peyton Francis and Amy becomes Landon, and they relocate to Boulder. Needing psychological help to cope with the upheaval and tragedies of her life she begins to see Dr. Alan Gregory, whose other WITSEC patient is former hitman Carl Luppo, a killer of at least 15-20 people. Carl realizes that something is not right with Peyton's disguise and takes the two females under his personal protection whether it is from Castro or someone more sinister. The Program is an exciting thriller that provides an insightful look into the pros and cons of the witness protection program. Kirstin and Carl are intriguing characters hiding for different reasons. The return of Dr. Gregory is always a reason to rejoice, but in all honesty his role is a secondary catalyst to the fast-paced main plot starring Kirstin. Still, he plays a pivotal role and his sessions with his two patients seem very real, making the story line feel genuine. Best-selling author Stephen White may have written his best novel to date with this tremendous taut tale.
Kirkus Reviews
Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory's latest case shunts him into a supporting role in this tale of a woman's misadventures in WITSEC, the US Marshals' fabled Witness Security Program. Strictly speaking, New Orleans prosecutor Kirsten Lord shouldn't even be in the program, since the only thing she witnessed was the assassination of her husband shortly after Ernesto Castro, the local drug boss she'd just convicted, told her,"Every precious thing I lose, you will lose two"—and even then, she couldn't identify the killer who'd taken the trouble to schedule the hit right before her eyes. Convinced that her daughter is Castro's logical next target, she appeals for help after her do-it-yourself cover upstate is broken to WITSEC, a program she'd formerly and very publicly criticized. The reluctant marshals spirit her off to Boulder, where she settles into a new life as apprentice chef Peyton Francis and joins retired mob enforcer Carl Luppo, a far more typical WITSEC client, as Alan Gregory's patient. One thing leads to another, especially when the kindly, alert Carl is doing the leading, and soon the two patients are secretly sharing information about themselves their minder, Inspector Ronald Kriciak, would really rather they didn't. Unfortunately, Carl isn't the only person Peyton is sharing with, and her ill-advised communications with Andrea Archer, an old friend in Florida's Sarasota County D.A.'s office, drags her back into an ancient crime Andrea is convinced the wrong man is about be executed for—unless Peyton can do something about it. Even more unfortunately, White, normally the consummate professional (Cold Case,2000,etc.), manages to blow this foolproof setup byplanting more unrelated bad guys in the bushes than you'd find in a year's worth of True Detective. It's lucky that Alan Gregory is still around for a key scene at the end. Rising tension undermined by wild coincidence.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440237266
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Series: Dr. Alan Gregory Series , #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 575,262
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.45 (h) x 1.05 (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.

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."

Read More Show Less
    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:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

ALMOST FAT TUESDAY

"Remember this. Every precious thing I lose, you will lose two."

The man was a good target.

Tall, six-five. Wavy blond hair that shined almost red in the filtered February sunlight. Ivory skin that refused to tan. Green eyes that danced to the beat of every melody that radiated from every tavern on every street corner in the always-tawdry Quarter. Even during a crowded lunch hour in the most congested part of New Orleans, you could spot him a block away, his head bobbing above the masses. On the eve of Fat Tuesday the Quarter was flush with tourists, and each of them was flush with anticipation of the debauched revelry that would only accelerate as the Monday before stretched into the Tuesday of, as almost-here became Mardi Gras.

The other man, the one with the gun, knew that in a crowd like this one he would have made a rotten target. He was five-eight with his sneakers on. What hair remained on his head was on the dark side of brown. His creeping baldness didn't matter much to him, though, because the Saints cap he was wearing shielded his scalp from the sun as effectively as the distinctive steel-rimmed Ray-Bans shaded his eyes. The khakis and navy-striped sweater he was wearing had been chosen because they comprised the de facto uniform-of-the-day among the male revelers wandering to join the crowds on Bourbon Street.

The late morning had turned mild, and the man's windbreaker was draped over his right hand and arm, totally disguising the barrel of his Ruger Mark II as well as the additional length of the stubby suppressor. His left hand was shoved deep in the pocket of his khakis. He had been briefed on the tall man's destination in advance and kept his distance as he followed him. At the intersection where Bienville crossed Royal the man with the silenced .22 would begin to close the gap on the man without one. That would give the assassin a little over a block to get close enough to do his job.

The tall, blond man had come from his office near City Hall. His wife had wanted to meet him downtown and accompany him to the restaurant. But he'd declined her offer. He'd made prior arrangements to stop on his way to their lunch date at an antique store on Royal to pick up a nineteenth-century cameo he knew his wife had been coveting. The cameo was a surprise for their anniversary.

The errand on Royal hadn't taken the man long, though, and he was turning the corner from Bienville onto Bourbon ten minutes before he was scheduled to rendezvous with his wife. With an athlete's grace and a large man's strides, he dodged slothful tourists with their to-go cup hurricanes and quickly covered the territory to the entrance of Galatoire's. Briefly he scanned the sidewalk and the teeming street in front of the restaurant. His wife wasn't there. He didn't even consider looking for her inside: Kirsten had a thing about sitting alone in restaurants. He hoped she wouldn't be too late; the line for lunch at one of New Orleans legendary eateries was already growing.

They had been in New Orleans for six years and this would mark the sixth time that they had celebrated their anniversary at Galatoire's. He was the one who insisted on returning year after year. She would have preferred going to a restaurant that actually took reservations. But he prevailed. He was the keeper of the traditions in the family. He was the romantic.

The man with the windbreaker on his arm window-shopped two doors down from Galatoire's, using the storefront glass to reflect the position of his prey. He didn't worry about being spotted. There was no reason that anyone would focus on him. He was a middle-aged guy loitering on Bourbon Street just before lunch hour on the eve of Mardi Gras. One, literally, of thousands. Finally, the beeper in his pocket vibrated. With his fingertip he stilled it and began to scan the street for Kirsten's arrival. His partner up the street had paged him from a cell phone. The page was his signal that she was approaching.

She, too, would have been a good target. Like her husband, Kirsten was tall. And she flaunted it. Two-inch heels took her above six feet, and the skirt of her suit was cut narrowly to accentuate her height. The jacket was tailored to pinch her waist and highlight her hips. Her hair was every bit as blond as her husband's although the sunlight reflected no red. Kirsten was golden, from head to toe.

She carried a small gift box, elaborately wrapped. In it was a key to a suite at the nearby Windsor Court Hotel and a scroll with a wonderfully detailed list that spelled out all the erotic things she planned to do to her husband's lean body between check-in that evening and dawn the next day. She'd had the list drawn on parchment by a friend who was a calligrapher.

The man with the windbreaker spotted Kirsten down the block. As he had been told to expect, she was approaching down Bourbon from Canal. A moment later her husband spotted her, too, but he was reluctant to leave his place in line at Galatoire's. He waved. She waved back. Her smile was electric.

The man with the windbreaker on his arm moved closer to the tall blond man, simultaneously lifting his left hand from his pocket and placing it below the jacket. His right hand was now free. He stuffed it into the pocket of his trousers at the same moment he spotted his partner moving into position behind the woman.

Timing was everything. That's what he'd been told. This wasn't just about the hit; it was also about the timing. Timing was everything.

Kirsten Lord was fifty feet away when the man with the windbreaker stepped into position no more than two yards to the left of her husband, Robert. The position the man took was slightly back from Robert's left shoulder. Kirsten dodged tourists and closed the distance between herself and her husband to twenty feet. Impossibly, her smile seemed to grow brighter.

The man raised his left arm, the one shielded by the windbreaker, so that it extended across his chest. Below the jacket, the barrel of the sound suppressor was now pointing up at a forty-five-degree angle toward his right shoulder.

Kirsten's eyes left her husband's for only an instant, just barely long enough for her to notice the small man with his oddly held windbreaker. She met the man's eyes as they danced from her to Robert and back. She noticed the awkward way he was holding his arm, perceived the evil in his grin, and in a flash, she processed the peril that the man presented. The bright smile she was wearing for her husband left her face as though she'd been slapped. The gaily-decorated box flew from her hand. Instinctively, her tongue found the roof of her mouth and the beginnings of a horrified "No" left her lips just as the man in the Saints cap pivoted his hand and wrist at the elbow so that his silenced weapon emerged from below his jacket.

Out toward Robert Lord's head.

With the voices from the throngs on the street mixing with the music coming from the myriad clubs mixing with the rest of Kirsten Lord's plaintive "NOOOOO," the hushed shots from the silenced pistol were barely discernible, even to Kirsten. She thought they sounded more like arrows than bullets. Another witness later described them as two drumbeats.

Both shots found their marks. The first slug entered Robert's head just below his ear, the second higher, in his cranium. The load in the Ruger was .22 caliber. The slugs possessed neither the mass nor the velocity to find their way back out of Robert Lord's head after they pierced his skull. No grisly hunks of cranial bone cascaded against the plate glass of Galatoire's front window. No bloody gray matter fouled the clothes of the locals and tourists standing in line for lunch. Instead, the two slugs banged around inside Robert Lord's head, mixing the contents of his skull the way a ball bearing blends the contents of a can of spray paint.

The hit was supposed to be clean. And it was.

The timing was supposed to be perfect. And it was.

Kirsten fell to her knees at Robert's side just as his legs were collapsing below him. One of the two shell casings was still dancing on the concrete, finally coming to rest near the crook of Robert's neck. Kirsten seemed oblivious to any danger she might be in. No one around her seemed to be aware that her husband had just been shot. She no longer recalls what she said to the strangers who stared down at her with shock and pity on their faces.

When she looked up to identify the shooter, to confront the shooter, to accept the next bullet, he was gone. There was no way she would have known it, but by then his Saints cap was off his head, his pager was down a sewer, his sunglasses were off his eyes and he was around the corner, walking placidly down Bienville toward Dauphine. That's where the third member of the team was waiting with a car.

The band in the bar on the corner was playing some better-than-average Zydeco, and he decided that the longer he was in New Orleans the more he liked it.

His instructions had been to make sure that the lady saw the hit. He knew he'd done well.

She'd seen the hit. No doubt about it.

Chapter Two

"Remember this," he'd said, pointing at me over the defense table. "Every precious thing I lose, you will lose two."

Less than a month after they slid my husband Robert's body into the only empty slot left in his family's tomb in the Garden District's Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans, I packed up my daughter and moved what remained of our life north to a little town called Slaughter, which was bisected by Highway 19 about halfway between Baton Rouge and the Mississippi state line.

We made the move in the middle of the night. In homage to my paranoia I'd driven all the way to Picayune, Mississippi, before I backtracked into Louisiana and charged north to Slaughter. My old boss in New Orleans, the district attorney, had arranged for a Louisiana State Trooper to tail my car all the way to Picayune and then all the way back as far as Baton Rouge. I bought the trooper a cup of coffee at a truck stop outside Baton Rouge, and he finished two pieces of pie, one apple, one lemon meringue, before I allowed myself to be convinced that we had not been followed.

Somewhere between the outskirts of Baton Rouge and the town limits of Slaughter, I stopped calling myself Kirsten Lord and started calling myself Katherine Shaw. I chose the name at my husband's funeral. The inspiration? The name was written in pencil inside the prayer book that was in front of me in the pew at the church. "Katherine Shaw" it read. The name was written in a child's hand, neatly, in pencil, and I prayed that the Katherine Shaw who'd sat in that pew and sung the hymns in that church and who had spoken the prayers wouldn't mind that we now shared her name as we had shared that holy book.

Trying to make the urgent move to a new town a game to my ever-cool daughter, I'd allowed her to choose her own new name, too. Her class in school had been studying the Olympic Games in Sydney, so my daughter was now Matilda. I wasn't fond of the name but consoled myself with my glee that her class hadn't been studying the Nagano Games or Salt Lake City.

Together, Matilda and I danced off to Slaughter. . . “You'll come a-waltzing Matilda with me. . . ."

When I agreed to go into what I told myself was temporary hiding under the protection of the State of Louisiana, one of the reasons I'd chosen to move to Slaughter for our new home was because it was the kind of town where strangers were noticed. Where unfamiliar cars earned a second glance. Despite my still raw grief over Robert's death I did everything I could to befriend our neighbors and I quickly became known as the mother who watched her daughter enter school each morning and who was waiting outside the door ten minutes before the end of classes each afternoon. The routine I followed didn't vary despite the fact that the upstairs window of the house that I was renting had a pretty good view of the front door of the school. For my state of mind those days, a pretty good view wasn't good enough. A half-block away was a half-block too far.

School ended for Matilda on a much-too-sultry-for-early-June day. But the kids didn't notice the heat. They were energized and intoxicated by the prospect of their upcoming summer of freedom.

Matilda was planning to go home from school with a friend, the first social invitation she'd received since becoming the new kid in class so late in the school year. Upon learning of her plans, I invited the new friend's mother over for coffee and sprinkled the conversation with a manufactured concern that my estranged husband might try to abduct Matilda. A custody dispute, I implied. The new friend's mother said not-to-worry, she'd keep a close eye on the kids. She pressed for some dirt about my estranged husband and as I struggled to invent details to satiate her I wished I'd come up with a different story.

Eight, almost nine-year-old Matilda sensed my apprehension about her visit to her new friend's house and informed me that she could walk all the way there without a chaperone.

"Really," I said, feigning surprise, though I'd expected to hear words a lot like those from my much-too-independent daughter.

"You won't wait for me outside school?"

I raised a hand in honor and stated, "I promise."

"Mom, you promise?" There was a time in the not-too-distant-past that she stomped a foot every time she used that tone of voice.

I asked, "Will you call me when you two get to your friend's house?"

"Do I have to?"

"Yes, you do."

"Then I will."

"Matilda, you promise?"

"Mom."

The phone rang at eighteen minutes past three on that last day of school. "Hi, Mom," said Matilda. "We're having lemonade and those little cookies just like the ones that Grandma used to make. With the jam in the middle?" "Grandma" was my mother. She'd died the previous April. My unfinished grief over her death had already been trampled over by the brutal pain I felt trying to absorb the responsibility and loss I felt over Robert's murder.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

Author Essay
It's Not Always Easy Getting With the Program

As I've grown to accept the fact that I have some experience as a writer -- The Program is my ninth novel -- I've also come to believe that the foundations for stories are enigmatic things. And my latest book, The Program, may have had the most unique genesis of any of my books.

In a chance conversation a little over three years ago I learned a solitary fact: The Witness Protection Program run by the United States Treasury Department hires local mental health professionals to act as consultants. It may not seem like a piece of information that would launch most normal people (read: non-thriller writers) into the throes of bliss, but for me this isolated factoid was a wonderful epiphany.

Within seconds my mind made the connections necessary to come to the conclusion that I had the basis for a terrific story. Alan Gregory, the fictional Boulder psychologist who has been kind enough to allow me to chronicle his absurd life for the past decade, was about to get a new job as a temporary consultant to the Witness Protection Program.

I was thrilled at my general idea, but my joy was unfortunately short lived. What I had in my head was a situation -- a circumstance, if you will -- but it doesn't take much seasoning to know that a circumstance is not a story. I knew I needed to learn more -- a lot more -- about the Witness Protection Program if I wanted to develop a compelling story to wrap around the circumstance. And that's where my trouble began.

Other than what I'd seen in the movies, I was totally ignorant about the Witness Protection Program, so ignorant in fact that I thought the Witness Protection Program was actually called the Witness Protection Program (It isn't. The official name is the Witness Security Program, or in government-speak, WITSEC.) But I was naively confident that I knew how to resolve my ignorance: I have a Ph.D., I'm a trained researcher, and I like to think I know my way around a library. But to my surprise there was nothing useful to be found there. I tried the Internet. Virtually nothing to be found there. I tried the Treasury Department. Sorry, can't help you. That left me where? It left me a great situation to use as a foundation for a story that involved an almost totally secret government program about which I was remarkably ignorant.

As a writer of mystery/thrillers, that was not a good place to be.

What happened? Through some unusual circumstances I was fortunate enough to meet some people who were in a position to teach me almost everything I needed to know about the Witness Security Program as it exists at the community level. The community level is where the interesting things happen. It's where protected witnesses are inserted into new towns, new cities, new lives. It's where the monumental challenges of being a protected witness slap new participants in the face. It's where freshly oriented witnesses confront the reality of living with new identities but no life histories, of making do on small, temporary government stipends, of living on the verge of discovery and the edge of fear.

For readers, The Program is a glimpse inside the daily lives of protected witnesses, a glimpse that that to the best of my knowledge exists no place else in the public record. Along the way you will find familiar faces from the previous books in the series you will meet some new characters that will stick with you for a long time. But, please, before you read set aside any preconceptions you might have about the Witness Protection Program. The preconceptions are probably misconceptions.

Barnes & Noble's own editorial reviewer said that The Program "is an incisive, psychologically acute thriller that illuminates a little-known corner of the criminal justice system. It clearly represents a large step forward for a gifted, underrated writer." I'm confident that you will agree.

A final thought. Tom Stoppard once said, "In any community of a thousand souls there are nine hundred doing the work, ninety doing well, nine doing good, and one lucky dog writing about the other nine hundred and ninety-nine."

Thanks so much for reading my books and allowing me to be the lucky dog. I'm grateful for the opportunity every day. (Stephen White)

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(6)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great

    Great fun fast read that keeps you on your toes the whole book. I did not want to put it down!

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

    Posted March 21, 2001

    Great Recovery After A Shaky Beginning

    New Orleans District Attorney Kirsten Lord watches helplessly as her husband is assassinated moments before they are to celebrate their anniversary at a posh New Orleans restaurant. A condemned man¿s mother is killed in a car accident. He blames Kirsten because if she didn¿t prosecute him and win, his mother would have never been traveling on that road to visit him in jail. Kirsten suddenly remembers how he threatened her as he was being sent away to jail. ¿Every precious thing I lose, you will lose two.¿ .The first had been her husband. The second has to be her little girl. Now she and her daughter must enter the Witness Protection Program, the antithesis of everything she believes in...the very program she has publicly assaulted during her years as a prosecutor. ¿The Program¿ may now be the only thing that can keep her and her daughter alive. She soon meets and befriends program veteran Carl Luppo, a mob assassin turned good guy, who tells her that someone may be leaking Kirsten¿s whereabouts to the wrong people. Now the only people she can trust are Carl, and her program-appointed psychologist Alan Gregory. Before this story is over people will die and many lives will be changed. Once I muddled through the very shaky beginning, which included random changes of perspective, lackadaisical plotting and other languid unmentionables, I found this book to be quite a page turner. Stephen White offers a story chock full of spicy dialog, engaging characters, and great little tidbits of information. I enjoyed witnessing the interplay among the characters, and Dr. Gregory¿s psych sessions were fascinating. A different type of work for this author that is nicely done, albeit the rocky start. Stay with it and enjoy. Cris

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

    Posted March 11, 2001

    A SUPERB READING

    Even at her young age, Sandra Burr is a veteran performer who first walked on a civic theater stage at the age of six. She gives an appropriately menacing reading to this frightening story of a woman and her nine-year-old daughter who seek refuge in the Witness Protection Program. After New Orleans District Attorney Kirsten Lord's husband is murdered by a hit man, she soon discovers that her own life and that of her daughter's is threatened. Feeling she has no other valid choice she agrees to be hidden in Colorado. However, once in the program she meets another who is being protected, Carl Luppo. He is a lone mob hit man very much, she suspects, like the man who killed her husband. Sensing her danger, Luppo befriends Kirsten; he appoints himself her guardian. Kirsten's chaotic life is in stark contrast to the relative tranquility enjoyed by a psychological consultant to the Protection Program and his wife who are preparing for the birth of their first child. There's both darkness and light in this suspenseful tale, and Sandra Burr reads it superbly.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent thriller

    Sentenced drug dealer Ernesto Castro warns New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Kirstin Lord that for every thing he loses, she will lose twice. A few weeks later, Kirstin goes to meet her spouse Robert at the Galatoire restaurant, but sees the hitman wearing the Saints cap assassinate her husband. Though grieving her loss, Kirstin realizes that Castro said ¿twice¿ and worries that her eight-year old daughter Amy will be next. <P>Ironically, Kirstin, a vocal critic of the witness protection program hiding killers from justice, enters the Federal witness security program. She becomes Peyton Francis and Amy becomes Landon, and they relocate to Boulder. Needing psychological help to cope with the upheaval and tragedies of her life she begins to see Dr. Alan Gregory, whose other WITSEC patient is former hitman Carl Luppo, a killer of at least 15-20 people. Carl realizes that something is not right with Peyton¿s disguise and takes the two females under his personal protection whether it is from Castro or someone more sinister. <P>THE PROGRAM is an exciting thriller that provides an insightful look into the pros and cons of the witness protection program. Kirstin and Carl are intriguing characters hiding for different reasons. The return of Dr. Gregory is always a reason to rejoice, but in all honesty his role is a secondary catalyst to the fast-paced main plot starring Kirstin. Still, he plays a pivotal role and his sessions with his two patients seem very real, making the story line feel genuine. Best-selling author Stephen White may have written his best novel to date with this tremendous taut tale. <P>Harriet Klausner

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

    Posted October 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 5, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)