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Dead Time Reviews

Stephen White continues to amaze. A writer of journeyman quality from the beginning, he has consistently topped himself with each new installment in the Alan Gregory series, starting with PRIVILEGED INFORMATION in 1991. White never writes the same book twice; he is constantly experimenting with his characters and their surroundings --- sometimes making Gregory, a psychologist in Boulder, Colorado, little more than an observer; occasionally putting him front and center; or even relegating him to a cameo appearance, albeit a pivotal one. It was perhaps with KILL ME that it became impossible to ignore the fact that White's work all along had been building to a crescendo to which few writers in the genre aspire, let alone reach. And it is with DEAD TIME, his 16th novel, that he takes it up another notch or two. Again. DEAD TIME puts Gregory front and center in the middle of the story, not as the result of interaction with a client but because his ex-wife Merideth has asked him for a favor. She and her fiancÚ have retained the services of a woman named Lisa in order to provide them with the child for whom Merideth longs. But the surrogate has gone missing in New York City without explanation. Gregory agrees to investigate, enlisting the help of his friend Sam Purdy, who in turn is in the midst of a suspension from the Boulder, Colorado police department. Gregory's relationship with Purdy is touchy at this point in time, and the interplay between the two men as they tentatively reestablish their friendship is worth the price of the book almost by itself. Working from opposite ends, they ultimately discover that Lisa's disappearance is tied to a Grand Canyon camping trip that occurred some years before and resulted, ironically enough, in the disappearance of another young woman. The trail leads Gregory back across the country to Los Angeles, where the answers to both mysteries --- and terrible danger to all involved --- await. There were portions of DEAD TIME that put me in the mind of other books and authors. At times it compares favorably to THE RUINS by Scott Smith, though it bears no similarity to that novel. White's New York sequences are as fine as those set forth by Lawrence Block, and Gregory's time in Los Angeles reminds one of Michael Connelly's cinematic view of that area as he puts Harry Bosch through his paces. White's style, though, is not at all imitative of those writers. He takes a step or two in different directions, exploring the gulf between generations regarding their sexual mores, the complexities of male friendship and the difficulties of marriage. Ultimately, DEAD TIME is a psychological thriller, and at the heart of every thriller is a villain. This book has a good one --- a great one in fact --- and the author introduces the ultimate villain of the piece with such stunning perfection that it will be difficult to encounter another anytime soon without their being found wanting. Stephen White, on the strength of DEAD TIME, should be a literary household name on the order of King, Rowling and whoever else you might care to mention. He is that good.
— Joe Hartlaub, BookReporter.com

Stephen White, author of Dead Time, is a clinical psychologist, which explains a lot about the way he has shaped the novel. The characters are developed in a leisurely but calculating way akin to the way a skilled therapist draws information from a patient. And what a lot of information there is to be gleaned from the group of young people, who on a fateful trip to the floor of the Grand Canyon, find their lives forever linked by mystery and regret. Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory, whom we first met in Dry Ice, is asked by his ex-wife, Meredith, to help her find the surrogate mother of her child. Gregory, whose current wife is in Holland trying to locate the child she gave up for adoption as a teenager, is in no mood to get involved. He has his hands full helping his newly adopted son adjust after the violent death of the son's mother. Plus Gregory and his ex don't get along. It is an understatement to say that these people lead complicated lives. The Grand Canyon tragedy five years earlier moves front and center when it turns out that the missing surrogate — as was Meredith's fiancÚ, the father of the unborn child — was one of the hikers. When a colleague asks Gregory to help his emotionally troubled daughter, who also happens to have been a member of the trip, the plot thickens. Dead Time may seem a little plodding in parts, but Gregory's (aka White's) use of his therapist skills to question witnesses and gather facts becomes almost hypnotically absorbing. White even manages to make a detailed description of an uneventful drive on the Los Angeles freeway memorable.
— Orlando Sentinel

Stephen White, a Denver clinical psychologist, brings back series character Alan Gregory in his 15th mystery, "Dead Time." Like his other books, this is an intellectual mystery, rather than one featuring fists and bullets. White signs the book at High Crimes Tuesday night in one of the store's final author events before it closes March 15 to become an online-only retailer. During a Grand Canyon camping trip some years ago, six college students met another couple. On the morning the students were leaving, the woman disappeared. That event enters the life of Boulder psychologist Alan Gregory when Alan's first wife, Merideth, suddenly asks for his help. She and her current husband are using a surrogate to carry their unborn child, but the surrogate has disappeared. Because her husband and the surrogate were both on the Grand Canyon trip, Merideth asks Alan to talk to the others, to see if what happened there contributed to the surrogate's disappearance. As usual in White's novels, "Dead Time" succeeds on many levels. Putting Alan in unfamiliar settings (New York and Los Angeles) shows different sides of his character, while his interactions with the former students, now in their 20s, contrast Alan's middle-aged sensibilities with the attitudes and mores of a younger generation. Telling the story in multiple points of view allows White to present Alan and Merideth's competing perspectives on how each has changed since their marriage dissolved, and several subplots add texture to the book. But "Dead Time" has some shortcomings. Many of the continuing characters are dealing with events that occurred in "Dry Ice," White's previous book, making it hard for readers who missed the prior book to fully understand what's happening. For example, Alan and his wife, Lauren, are dealing with their neighbor's death, and her wish that they become her son's guardians; Alan's police friend, Sam Purdy, is serving a six-month suspension, and Alan and Sam's friendship is strained; and Lauren is trying to find the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago. The short chapters (averaging five pages apiece) give the book a choppy pace that is inconsistent with its cerebral nature. And it is often difficult to keep all the characters straight, requiring readers to re-read some earlier scenes. The theme -- how far people will go to become parents, and the ramifications of being a parent -- appears in most of the plots (Merideth's use of a surrogate; Lauren's search for her daughter, Alan and Lauren assuming guardianship), allowing White to present different viewpoints, without the book degenerating into a policy debate. "Dead Time" is up to White's usual standards, but read "Dry Ice" first to avoid being lost.
— The Daily Camera

"The latest Alan Gregory thriller is an exhilarating action-packed tale in which a dark past spreads its tentacles into the present. The protagonist is just starting to get his life together as he deals with a new stepson whose uncle protests his having custody of his nephew and a shaky marriage. However, when Meredith asks for his aid, his conscience makes him say yes. Although the plot moves at light speed, it is the strong characterizations that make this a special read."
— Genre Go Round Reviews

"This is a good action thriller with strong characters and a fast-moving plot. It will keep you guessing throughout."
— Daily American

 

Dead Time paperback

Signet (USA) Paperback, 2009,
ISBN: 0451223772

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