White, Stephen 1951–
White, Stephen 1951–
ADDRESSES: Home—Denver, CO. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Dutton, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014-3657.
CAREER: Psychologist and author. Former psychologist with The Children's Hospital, Denver, CO, and University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; also psychologist in private practice.
"ALAN GREGORY" SERIES; MYSTERY NOVELS
Privileged Information, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.
Private Practices, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.
Higher Authority, Viking (New York, NY), 1994.
Harm's Way, Viking (New York, NY), 1996.
Remote Control, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.
Critical Conditions, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.
Manner of Death, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
Cold Case, Dutton (New York, NY), 1999.
The Program, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2001.
Warning Signs, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2002.
The Best Revenge, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Blinded, Delacorte Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Missing Persons, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
Kill Me, Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Stephen White is a psychologist and novelist who has published a series of mystery novels featuring protagonist Alan Gregory, a crime-solving psychologist in Boulder, Colorado. White introduced Gregory in Privileged Information, in which the hero himself becomes the object of suspicion after several patients are found dead. Following the first death involving an unlikely suicide, Gregory is sued for sexual misconduct by the surviving father. Then a patient perishes in an accident and another patient is found killed. Gregory suspects that the deaths are all related, and he believes that one of his own patients is the perpetrator. However, he refuses to violate doctor-patient confidentiality, even though divulging such information might lead to the killer's capture. Gregory therefore determines to solve the crimes through his own investigation. He enlists the aid of a deputy district attorney, Lauren Cowder, with whom he soon becomes romantically involved. Then he learns that his new lover may also be targeted by the dangerous killer. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Privileged Information a "suspenseful first novel." Library Jour-nal reviewer Patricia Y. Morton similarly deemed the book "suspenseful." Gregory's "dashing, heroic feats" were praised by Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times Book Review.
Private Practices, White's next mystery, finds psychologist-sleuth Gregory probing the shooting death of a colleague's patient. The novel begins with the deranged killer slaying his estranged wife and her attorney before being killed by the police. While the incident is initially summarized as domestic violence, it soon takes on broader implications, especially after Gregory discovers that the wife had been preparing to testify at a grand-jury investigation. Later, Gregory conducts his girlfriend, assistant district attorney Lauren Cowder, to the home of another witness involved in the same grand-jury investigation. Upon their arrival, however, Gregory and Cowder see the witness's home explode. Gregory then decides to commence his own investigation into these violent occurrences, and he discovers a scheme involving more murders, blackmail, child pornography, and even another colleague. A reviewer for the Armchair Detective called Private Practices "absolutely fascinating."
White followed Private Practices with Higher Authority, wherein the resourceful Gregory must help Lauren Cowder, who is now his fiancée, track her missing sister, who disappeared after filing a sexual-harassment suit against a woman working for a Mormon judge of the Utah Supreme Court. Cowder had initially hired a private investigator to probe matters, but that individual was found dead, as was, eventually, the women accused of sexual misconduct. With suspicion falling on his fiancée's vanished sister, Gregory aids in the investigation. His search leads him to fanatical elements within the Mormon church. Marilyn Stasio wrote in the New York Times Book Review that Higher Authority presents a "scary scenario." A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the novel as "an engrossing thriller."
In Harm's Way, the fourth of White's Alan Gregory mysteries, the psychologist investigates the death of a colleague whose corpse has been found in a theater. While establishing a profile of the killer, Gregory learns that similar murders have taken place in other theaters. He also realizes that he knew less about his late colleague than he had previously believed. Marilyn Stasio, in her New York Times Book Review assessment, declared Harm's Way to be "gripping," while Library Journal reviewer V. Louise Saylor deemed the story "skillfully plotted." Remote Control, the fifth Alan Gregory thriller, finds the hero married to attorney Lauren Crowder. In this story Crowder, who has multiple sclerosis, is compelled to fire at a figure threatening her friend Emma Spire. Emma had settled in Boulder following the assassination of her father—the U.S. surgeon general—by an anti-abortionist. After Crowder surrenders to the police, Gregory begins his own investigation into Spire's background. He discovers that Spire's lover is involved in the development of a computer program capable of recording human sensations. That program, tested on the unknowing Spire during sex, is missing. Alan, while trying to absolve Crowder of wrongdoing, comes to suspect that Spire's lover, and whoever possesses the missing computer program, may be involved in more than mere technological chicanery. A Publishers Weekly reviewer declared Remote Control to be a "gripping" addition to the series.
White's next novel, Critical Conditions, thrusts Gregory into intrigue involving managed health care. In this novel, he is asked by police to work with a teenage girl suspected of killing the director of an insurance company that has refused experimental treatment for her half-sister, who suffers from a heart defect. Gregory's ensuing investigation leads him to uncover murder, suicide, and illicit financial dealings. Michele Leber, writing in the Library Journal, described the novel as a "compulsive read." In Manner of Death Gregory learns that former co-workers have been found murdered. While the police research former patients, Gregory discovers clues linking the killings to other deranged individuals. As he is also marked for death, his search becomes a harrowing race against time. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Manner of Death "chilling," while Booklist contributor George Cohen found it to be as "highly crafted" as White's previous novels.
Cold Case, Gregory's seventh adventure, finds the psychologist trying to ferret out the answers connected with an unsolved double murder. He is enlisted to work on the old case by a private organization that helps the families of murder victims uncover the truth about crimes against their loved ones. In this case the victims were two teenaged girls, and Gregory's investigation puts suspicion on a Colorado congressman who also worked as a psychologist and was treating both girls when the murders occurred. The subplot shows the now-pregnant Lauren coping with the progression of her multiple sclerosis. "The delicate, bookish Gregory and his enfeebled wife make for unlikely crime stoppers," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer, yet White's skill with plot and characterization "drives the story."
Lauren's pregnancy continues in The Program, which sees Gregory treating people enrolled in the Witness Protection Program. One of his patients, Kirsten Lord, is a prosecutor who saw her husband executed; another is a Mafia hit man who has become an informant. The friendship that develops between these two characters is "odd but endearing," according to Mary Frances Wilkens in Booklist. Kirsten comes to doubt the integrity of the federal marshals that are supposed to protect her, and soon she feels compelled to hide from the Witness Protection Program itself. The energetic narrative comes to an "edge-of-your-seat denouement," according to a Publishers Weekly writer. Miami Herald reviewer Connie Ogle noted: "This intriguing premise—a therapist counseling protected witnesses—is the sort of originality that makes White's work stand out."
Warning Signs finds Lauren about to return to work at the district attorney's office after her maternity leave. When the district attorney himself is found murdered in his living room, Lauren postpones her return to work to defend the policeman accused of the killing. Alan, who is counseling a new patient, begins to fear that someone may be out to exact revenge on the judicial system, perhaps using Lauren as their target. The plot threads are drawn together to create "an exciting, suspenseful adventure," according to Mary Frances Wilkens in Booklist.
White introduced a new character to his series in The Best Revenge. Kelda James is an FBI agent who has recently taken a post with the Colorado bureau. She befriends Tom Clone, a man who has been wrongly sentenced to death and held in prison for thirteen years before being cleared of charges on the basis of DNA evidence. James recommends that Clone see Allan Gregory for help readjusting to the outside world. Not everyone believes that the DNA evidence proves Clone's innocence, however, and Gregory is unable to discuss his concerns about the matter with his friends, due to confidentiality issues. "White's circular plot is both maddening and exhilarating," remarked Wilkens in another Booklist review.
Blinded, the twelfth mystery in the series, is "an engrossing addition to an excellent series," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. The story is told both from the point of view of Gregory and his best friend, police detective Sam Purdey. Sam is facing rehabilitation therapy following a heart attack, and his wife has left him. Meanwhile, Gregory struggles to care for his toddler, his ailing wife, and his patients. One of his patients, a beautiful, wealthy woman, confides her suspicions that her husband might be a serial killer. Unwilling to breach the privacy of his doctor-client relationship, Gregory must simply leave hints for Sam to try to help him solve the case. Roland Person, reviewing Blinded for the Library Journal, appreciated the contrasting viewpoints and his skillful blend of strong characters, domestic scenes, humor, "and a tautly constructed plot."
White frequently explores moral questions in his novels. In 2005's Kill Me, end-of-life issues are the focus. As in previous novels, the author uses Gregory as a main character, but tells the story from another character's perspective. The narrator, who is never identified by name, is a successful businessman who contracts with a private organization called Death Angel Inc. Death Angel's purpose is to end the life of its clients if, because of illness or injury, they reach a state they do not consider acceptable in terms of quality of life. "This Faustian bargain doesn't take long to reveal its dark side," noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. The plot is revealed through conversations between the narrator and Gregory, and is an "unusual, twisted story," noted Wilkens in a Booklist review.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Armchair Detective, winter, 1994, review of Private Practices, p. 19.
Booklist, November 1, 1994, Emily Melton, review of Higher Authority, p. 481; January 1, 1997, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Remote Control, p. 780; November 15, 1998, George Cohen, review of Manner of Death, p. 548; December 1, 1999, Budd Arthur, review of Cold Case, p. 688; January 1, 2001, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Program, p. 872; December 15, 2001, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Warning Signs, p. 684; December 1, 2002, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of The Best Revenge, p. 629; November 15, 2003, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Blinded, p. 549; December 15, 2004, Mary Frances Wilkens, review of Missing Persons, p. 691; May 1, 2005, Mike Tribby, review of Missing Persons, p. 1549; September 15, 2005, Kill Me, p. 7.
Bookseller, February 4, 2005, review of Missing Persons, p. 32.
Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2001, review of Warning Signs, p. 1720; December 1, 2002, review of The Best Revenge, p. 1732; December 1, 2003, review of Blinded, p. 1381; December 15, 2004, review of Missing Persons, p. 1164.
Library Journal, May 15, 1991, Patricia Y. Morton, review of Privileged Information, pp. 110-111; February 1, 1996, V. Louise Saylor, review of Harm's Way, p. 100; January, 1997, Michele Leber, review of Remote Control, p. 151; May 1, 1997, Susan McCaffrey, review of Remote Control, p. 154; January, 1998, Michele Leber, review of Critical Conditions, p. 146; November 1, 1999, Michele Leber, review of Cold Case, p. 125; November 15, 2000, Steven J. Mayover, review of Cold Case, p. 112; January, 2002, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Warning Signs, p. 155; January, 2004, Roland Person, review of Blinded, p. 167; February 1, 2005, Michele Leber, review of Missing Persons, p. 72.
Miami Herald, March 14, 2001, Connie Ogle, review of The Program.
New York Times Book Review, August 11, 1991, Marilyn Stasio, review of Privileged Information, p. 25; November 20, 1994, Emily Melton, review of Higher Authority, p. 118; April 21, 1996, Marilyn Stasio, review of Harm's Way, p. 39.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of Privileged Information, p. 65; September 19, 1994, review of Higher Authority, p. 49; January 22, 1996, review of Harm's Way, p. 62; January 20, 1997, review of Remote Control, p. 396; February 3, 1997, review of Remote Control, p. 42; December 22, 1997, review of Critical Conditions, p. 36; October 19, 1998, Margaret Langstaff, "Treats His Writing Like a Business," p. 48; October 26, 1998, review of Manner of Death, p. 41; October 25, 1999, review of Cold Case, p. 47; February 26, 2001, review of The Program, p. 60; January 21, 2002, review of Warning Signs, p. 67; January 20, 2003, review of The Best Revenge, p. 57; November 24, 2003, review of Blinded, p. 40; December 6, 2004, review of Missing Persons, p. 41; October 17, 2005, review of Kill Me, p. 38.
School Library Journal, July, 2000, Pam Spencer, review of Cold Case, p. 128.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 14, 2001, Oline H. Cogdill, review of The Program.
BookReporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January 31, 2003), Tami Hoag, interview with Stephen White; (February 7, 2003), Carol Fitzgerald, Joe Hartlaub, and Wiley Saichek, interview with Stephen White; (June 20, 2003), "The Art of Suspense: A Dialogue between Authors Stephen White and Lisa Gardener"; (December 12, 2005), Joe Hartlaub, reviews of Missing Persons, The Best Revenge, and Warning Signs; Kate Ayers, review of Warning Signs; Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum, review of Blinded; review of The Best Revenge.
Readers Room, http://www.readersroom.com/ (December 12, 2005), transcript of chat session with Stephen White.
Stephen White Home Page, http://authorstephenwhite.com (December 14, 2005).