The latest in Stephen White’s Alan Gregory series of novels continues his recent trend of shifting between multirple perspectives among the various protagonists, always settling and centering on Boulder pysychologist Gregory.
“Dead Time” weaves together three perspectives as it slowly unravels the mystery of what happened years before when some friends camped out on the floor of the Grand Canyon. A woman disappeared under strange circumstances and has never been found since. What happened to her and the impact it had on the friendships of those on the trip plays a significant role for the rest of the novel.
The other threads slip back and forth between first-person perspective of Alan and his ex-wife Meredith. Meredith comes back into Alan’s wife when she attends a funeral of an old friend in Colorado and later when Alan visits New York for a few weeks with his newly adopted son. Meredith needs Alan’s help to look into disappearance of the surrogate mother she and her fiancee are using. Both the surrogate and the fiancee were part of the trip to the floor of the Grand Canyon.
What unfolds next is a series of revelations at a fairly reasonable rate, all grounded and set up by the early stages of the novel. And while the central mystery of what happened or what it means to the characters today isn’t exactly the most original mystery storyline around, it’s still compelling enough to keep reader interest as the pages turn.
What is far more interesting is the shifting perspective between Alan and his ex-wife and how they see the world and each other. Also, readers of the series will know that Alan’s current marriage is on dicey ground and following Alan’s struggles with tempations as he and his wife are geographically separated for the summer is intriguing. The real meat of the story comes from the glimpses and justifications as well as the blindness to faults he’d find in patients that Alan undergoes as the story unfolds.
And once the central mystery wraps up, there are still a few revelations about Alan’s personal life to come that are clearly setting things up for the next installment. It’s not quite as “holy cow, I’ve got to know what’s next” as the developments to Inspector Thomas Lynley in Elizabeth George’s novels, but it’s still enough to make the year or so wait between this book and the next an interesting one.