Saturday, September 7, 2013

Compound Fractures: A Novel by Stephen White

Compound Fractures: A Novel.  Stephen White. Dutton. August, 2013. 448 pp. hb. ISBN #: 9780525952602.

“What’s going on between us is about not being trusted…Do you ever think about morality? What we did?  How are we different from…They killed. We killed.” This is the essence of this mystery with enough convoluted twists and turns to confuse the most astute reader who can normally figure out the “who dunnit” twist in any novel of this genre.  Trust is the major issue dramatically affecting every single character in this story!

The story begins with Dr. Alan Gregory speaking with his therapist, Lila.  His issue of the moment is that he has to guarantee that no one will have access to her notes or comments on the therapy session before he can tell her what he needs to divulge.  But one can’t be too careful and there really aren’t any safeguards against professional lock pickers, as one will realize much later.

Two clearly known facts are that Alan’s wife, Lauren, was mortally wounded by a gunshot and lingered until her death a few weeks later.  Alan is devastated by her death but he is about to become more than devastated as the puzzle progresses and he learns more about the wife he thought he knew so well.  The second fact concerns a death on the Prado, a street in a Colorado town near Boulder; the victim appears to be a suicide.  Except how does the used gun wind up hanging up a chimney on a chain?  And why did Alan visit the scene of that death that all the wrong people know about?

Alan’s good friend, Sam, becomes rather evasive as it becomes clear that the Assistant DA of Boulder and some other women know fragments about that Prado death and Lauren’s death.  It’s not clear whether Elliott (ADA) is putting evidence together to pin Alan or Sam with a murder rap but it is very clear that the chemistry between Alan and Elliott is about as bad as it could get and the trust level between Alan and Sam is decreasing by the minute.

To say more would definitely spoil this riveting, puzzling criminal mystery tale that never gets dull, never stops confusing the reader and yet carefully and intelligently winds up connecting the dots in the riddles that keep appearing just when one thinks one is beginning to get a handle on it all.  To add to the thrill the final aspect involves someone intimately associated with 9/11.  While this is a stand-alone story, there are previous novels that concern Dr. Alan Gregory which readers may want to enjoy as well.

Compound Fractures is superb thriller or mystery fiction!

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