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
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.
White's latest thriller is an outstanding page-turner that examines quality of life, what it means to be living or dying, and who should make that determination. Although series regular psychologist Alan Gregory (Missing Persons) appears, this book centers on Gregory's patient, an anonymous wealthy white man with the lifestyle of a thrill seeker. After a skiing injury that has him questioning his mortality, he signs on with a shadowy insurance group he calls the "Death Angels," who promise to terminate him should his quality of life drop below a certain threshold. As his health status changes more quickly than our hero expects, he's left not only to fight his medical condition but also the group that has promised to fulfill the contract. White takes a promising premise and fleshes it out with well-rounded characters, plenty of action, and far more insight than appears in most such works. While the ending is somewhat predictable, it doesn't detract from a well-above-average thriller. One of White's best, this is strongly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/05.]-Craig Shufelt, Lane P.L., Oxford, OH. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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.