Review: Compound Fractures by Stephen White

Compound FracturesFor more than twenty years, in nearly a score of bestselling crime novels, New York Times bestselling author Stephen White’s stories of Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory have captivated millions of readers. Now Compound Fractures provides a riveting last chapter to the series.
In Line of Fire, the tantalizing prelude to this final book, Dr. Gregory found himself assailed by danger from every direction as he struggled with circumstances beyond his control. Authorities were closing in on Alan and his friend Sam Purdy for their role in a woman’s death years earlier. Alan was struggling to deal with the emotional collapse of his longtime friend Diane after she discovered evidence of her husband’s infidelity.
By the end, Alan’s personal life and his career were in danger of complete collapse.
But Line of Fire merely set the stage. In Compound Fractures, the explosive conclusion to the decades-long saga, Alan is forced to acknowledge that the perils that may bring him to his knees are not the dangers he recognizes, nor are they orchestrated by the nemesis he has long feared. Instead he is confronted by unexpected threats from unanticipated adversaries and by intimate betrayal from those who have been closest to him. He is compelled to reconsider what he has long believed about trust and about love while he is trying to cope with overwhelming loss and grief.
To protect himself he must revisit the cruel ethical dilemma that turned his life upside down as a young psychologist. He has to judge whether the people reentering his life after long absences are friends or foes. He has to make sense of echoes of distant tragedies while he decides if there is anyone he can really trust. Mostly, as the clock ticks down, he must solve a deadly mystery in Eldorado Springs that has been brewing for more than a decade.
At times full of pathos, at other times replete with White’s distinctive wry humor, Compound Fractures delivers the entrancing characters, the suspense, the intricately plotted storylines, and the unexpected twists that readers have come to expect.
Compound Fractures promises to be a jaw-dropping and satisfying last act in Stephen’s beloved series.” – Publisher Summary

Compound Fractures is the final installment of the Alan Gregory series by author Stephen White. And what a grand finale it is! I was a faithful reader of this series in years past; about five years ago I sensed a lull in the intensity of the series and lost interest. When I learned that White was ending the series, and had the chance to review the finale, I was most intrigued. Now, folks, you realize that I have stepped waaay out of my comfort zone here, by reading this novel without reading the preceding four that I had missed in the series. I know: Pathologically Literate Mama: 1, OCD: 0. I’m telling you, though, it was worth it. White does not disappoint in this heart-pounding thriller as psychologist Alan Gregory races to uncover his late wife’s darkest secrets in time to protect himself and his family from destruction. Will he and his cop friend, Sam Purdy, solve the puzzles in time?

As our story opens, Alan finds himself in a therapy session, however, the tables have been turned – this time, he is the patient. This scene serves to outline what those of us who haven’t read the most recent novels prior to Compound Fractures have missed. Alan’s wife, Lauren, has been shot and killed by his best friend and business partner, Diane. He and his friend, Sam, are desperately trying to keep a dark secret under wraps, but the threads are quickly unraveling. Alan is struggling to manage his own grief over Lauren’s death, as well as emotionally support their two children. He is attempting to seek help via therapy, but is finding it difficult to do so without revealing the devastating and deadly secrets that could ruin himself, his best friend, and his family forever.

Soon Alan learns that he is under police surveillance – but not for the reason he thinks. He also learns of a deep betrayal by his late wife, one that he never would have expected. He and Sam grow distant as their trust of each other wanes – are they really looking out for each other, or is it every man for himself? Lauren’s former co-worker, DA Elliot Bellhaven (also known as Helliot) winds a tighter and tighter circle around Alan, trapping him in a conspiracy that doesn’t even exist. Alan learns that Lauren has left clues to solving this life-or-death mystery, but what – and where? Will he find them – and decipher them – in time to save himself, his family, and his best friend? It is a race to the finish line in this breath-taking tale of loss, betrayal, and deception. Stephen White is at his best in this grand finale and he is most certainly going out with a bang.

Compound Fractures will be available for purchase on August 20, 2013!

4 out of 5 stars

Source: Penguin/Dutton {via NetGalley}

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