“Compound Fractures” (Dutton), by Stephen White
For more than 20 years, Stephen White has been writing about Alan Gregory, a psychologist in Boulder, Colo., who tends to get involved in major crimes. With the help of Detective Sam Purdy, Gregory has been able to close many cases. Although they occasionally butt heads, Gregory and Purdy have an enduring friendship. But “Compound Fractures,” the last book in the series, puts everything in jeopardy.
Gregory has suffered a personal loss and is struggling to cope. Purdy has a secret and it might involve a betrayal of Gregory. Their relationship becomes strained and they don’t realize it yet, but they will need each other to stay one step ahead of a mounting conspiracy. Friends and enemies from their past show up and what they reveal begins to unravel a terrible truth. Though what they did was more than justified, covering it up could land them in jail. Soon trust and friendship have vanished.
“Compound Fractures” seems a bit of a letdown after so many good books in the series. Readers want closure, and after turning the last page, there are several questions that demand answers.
White seems to go out of his way to disrupt any good will he has established with his characters and story lines over the years. A good thriller demands conflict, but not at the cost of making great characters unlikeable. Was he so tired of writing these books that he felt the need to turn everyone into ugly remnants of themselves?
Readers unfamiliar with this series should start at the beginning, not at the end, to fully understand what terrific novels the author has delivered over the years. It’s too bad the last one is less of a bang and more of a whimper.