Rocklin, CA, United States | Member Since 2004
Excellent book -- but a half star subtracted for the inclusion of the completely unnecessary element of having a much-loved dog killed. It added nothing to the story, didn't serve to heighten tension or move the plot ahead, in fact it served no purpose at all that I can see. Granted, the event doesn't occupy center stage for very long, so it's not serious demerit, but nevertheless, for all of these reasons, it should have been left out.
Other than that, a really excellent listen. This was the first book in the long-running series, and on the whole, one of the best. It's easy to see how this book, new on the stands, became a best seller, propelling Stephen White on to publishing one of the best amateur detective series out there. Even though it was published back in 1991, it's completely fresh. The single element that dates it was when one of the characters demands that some photographs be turned over. "And make sure I get the negatives, too," he adds. Right.
It's interesting, listening to this first book, meeting the characters for the first time, pretending we don't know what will happen in later installments. The delightful cop Sam Purdy doesn't play a large role here, nothing like he does in the later books, but Madeline -- Dr. Gregory's first wife -- does, and it's interesting to see how their marriage failed. And of course Lauren, the new love interest, enters the picture, just as big a termagant in the beginning as she is in every book. Once again, I found myself wondering why Dr. Alan puts up with that shrewish woman, who demands everything from everyone in her life, and offers almost nothing in return. The relationship does give rise to a philosophical question though: Lauren is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis, in this book, in its early stages. It's a horrible affliction, no question about that. Anyone who suffers from it deserves our sympathy. But the question is, how much sympathy? Does having a devastating, obviously frustrating, non-curable -- although not life threatening -- affliction give Lauren - or anyone else, for that matter -- the right to run roughshod over everyone with whom she comes in contact? At times, during this first book, I found myself hoping that Dr. Gregory would just walk away -- he'd have saved himself a lot of abuse if he had. But of course he doesn't. Apparently he, the great healer, sees something in Lauren that doesn't come across all that well to the reader. Maybe he just loves to play caretaker in all aspects of his life.
Whatever, this was a great listen -- great characters, innovative but reasonably plausible plot, psychological insights courtesy of several of Dr. Gregory's nutty patients we readers have come to enjoy. It's a credit very well spent. I know I'll enjoy it again sometime in the future.
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