Tuesday, January 5, 2010

MISSING PERSONS by STEPHEN WHITE

Stephen White writes a nice, middle-of-the-road thriller. Scary, but not too scary.  Decently written, if not inspired.  His hero, Alan Gregory, is a nice, middle-of-the-road psychologist living in Boulder, Colorado with his nice prosecutor wife, their adorable daughter, and two fabulous dogs.

Dr Gregory, in addition to his private practice, is a consultant to the Boulder Police Department, and--as is so often the case with amateur sleuths--seems to find more than his share of dead bodies.  Missing Persons opens with the discovery of a dead body--that of Gregory's colleague, psychiatrist Hannah Grant.  The search to determine the cause of her death is closely linked to another search, for a missing teen age girl, a girl who is the same age as Jonbenet Ramsey--or, as she's rather coyly referred to throughout the novel, "the little beauty queen" or "the other girl"--would have been had she lived.

Shit happens.  There are crazy people, a jaunt to Vegas, and, as usual, Alan Gregory spends an inordinate amount of time explaining confidentiality and how important it is to the doctor patient relationship and then dithering about whether it would be appropriate to betray it in this particular case.

I've always rather looked forward to Stephen White's novels, as they go down easily and leave no unpleasant aftertaste.  And so, when I found this one as I was test-driving my new libary card, I picked it up, read a few pages and, since they rang no bells in my memory, checked it out.  Now, here's how middle-of-the-road Mr White's work is: it wasn't until the climax of the novel--literally, until the perpetrator was unveiled--that I realized I had read this one already. Unpleasant aftertaste?  This left no taste whatsover!

I'm rethinking my fondness for Stephen White at the moment.  Reading time is short enough that I think long and hard before rereading something truly meaningful, so to spend two days rereading something that made so little impression I can't even remember reading it...well, I think I need to switch from white to wheat.

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