The spirit of D.B. Cooper--the legendary hijacking parachutist--hovers over Stephen White's latest book about Colorado psychologist Alan Gregory, and this jaunty ghost gives the outing even more stylish substance than usual. By adding elements of Cooper's crime and disappearance (with a large amount of cash) to a story of medical malpractice and resulting revenge, White--a practicing Colorado psychologist himself--pushes the envelope of what's real and what's fictional to the advantage of both.
After attending the funeral of a former colleague from his days as an intern, Gregory is accosted (and has a tempting Mexican lunch spoiled) by a pair of edgy ex-FBI agents now working for a high-ticket private security firm. They believe that the colleague's "accidental" death on a hiking trip is really part of an attempt to wipe out everyone who was part of a particular team in a psychiatric unit at the University of Colorado's Health Services Center in Denver in 1982. As members of that team, Gregory--and his former lover, Sawyer Sackett--are among the few remaining survivors and the next likely targets. Overhearing this news causes a waitress to drop two platters of green chili burritos in a messy clatter.
D.B. Cooper becomes an important part of the story as Gregory, his prosecutor wife, Lauren (whose multiple sclerosis leads to some unusual and important observations), their cop friend Sam Purdy, and the two ex-FBI agents zero in on possible suspects--one of whom has an abnormal fascination with the hijacker's life. White spends a tad too much time on Alan's past history with the mysterious Sawyer, but in general his narrative engine runs smoothly and powerfully toward its satisfying and largely unexpected conclusion. Other Gregory books include Critical Conditions, Harm's Way, Higher Authority, Private Practices, and Remote Control. --Dick Adler