Cal Bradley’s marriage is the stuff of romance. For fifteen year,, he has shared his life with Marie, a woman he passionately adores. In an idyllic corner of New England that has been home to his family for generations, Cal has become one of the most respected men in town: a father, churchgoer and a talented psychiatrist who runs a family clinic. Life is good.
Then one night, a nineteen-year-old boy named Peter Blue sets a local church on fire and is sent to Cal for treatment For the patient, it’s a last chance at redemption. For Cal, it’s a journey into fear, deception, and murder.
Because somehow Peter Blue’s inner life is connected to Cal’, reality…and to his wife’s hidden past. And before Cal can hunt down the truth he is going to have to choose between everything he believes is right, and everything he loves.
The two Edgars Klavan owns testify to his excellence at thrillers. True Crime; Don’t Say a Word; most recently, Hunting Down Amanda he has yet to write a disappointing novel. His newest, too, will please his fans, but it’s not his strongest. Psychiatrist Cal Bradley has a perfect life: a great job as head of a psychiatric institute in the New England town his eminent family has called home for generations; two nice kids; and, most important, a wonderful marriage to sweet Marie. Then Peter Blue shows up. Peter, 19, from a poor family, has been arrested for setting fire to a church and for pulling a gun on a cop. A word from Cal’s priest, who believes that Peter exhibits an eerie spiritual aura, convinces Cal to evaluate the boy. Cal learns that Peter is indeed intimately connected to God, but also that he harbors hidden, perhaps homicidal, anger, directed partly toward a malevolent stranger in town who one day Cal sees talking to Marie in the woods. But Marie denies the encounter and continues to lie to Cal even as he uncovers incriminating secrets about her past, and even as the stranger’s corpse surfaces in a nearby lake. Who killed him? The plotting of this novel is less clever, and the suspense less intense, than in previous Klavans. Even so, the author makes expert use of first-person narration to bond the reader to Cal’s suspicions, and then to his complicity in sin; strong supporting characters vivify the smalltown setting. And the book’s spiritual slant is unusual, and welcome, in a thriller. This is a minor gem from a major talent, a book that every Klavan fan will want but that won’t expand the author’s already wide readership.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
“A wife who’s too good to be true usually isn’t, and the cliché holds true in Andrew Klavan’s engrossing little thriller. Psychiatrist Cal Bradley is married to Marie, a devout, adoring, sensuous helpmate, and he’s happier than he ever thought he’d be. In fact, he’s surprisingly content to ignore the signs that something in her past is still troubling her deeply, until he sees his wife in the arms of a stranger. Then young Peter Blue, accused of battering his girlfriend and setting a church on fire, comes under Cal’s care. When Peter discloses his relationship with the stranger Cal saw in the woods with his wife, Marie’s past suddenly explodes into the present, threatening to turn Cal’s world upside down. There’s not a lot of subtlety here. The conclusion is practically handed to the reader on the first page, with its heavy foreshadowing. But the novel works anyway because of Klavan’s deft characterization of Peter, a complex, spiritual adolescent who forces Cal to confront his own conscience and his conflict between love and duty.” –Jane Adams
“Adult/High School-Reading this story is somewhat like taking a wild elevator ride-an unsuspected sudden jolt changes everything. Cal Bradley, psychiatrist, knows his life approaches perfection: he runs a respected family mental-health clinic in the New England town in which he grew up and has financial security, three healthy children, and a beautiful wife he adores. True, his older sister committed suicide some years ago, and his wife won’t talk about her past and never mentions her family. Still, life is good. Things change when Cal agrees to treat, gratis, a troubled 19-year-old boy who has beaten up his girlfriend and set fire to a local church. Peter Blue has attempted suicide and threatens to finish the job if he is taken to jail. Deserted by his father and raised by a drunken mother, the teen claims to commune directly with God. Things escalate once Cal spots his beloved wife with another man, finds she has emptied their bank account of $60,000, and catches her in denial and lies. Someone tries to run over their three-year-old, Cal is attacked, and, as the tension mounts, readers learn that both Peter and Marie have a connection to a malevolent personality. The protagonist’s actions ring as true as they are troubling. This is a story that will stay with readers, who will know that Cal and Marie’s troubles are only beginning as the story ends. The characters are vivid, the twists and turns are as imaginative and surprising as the writing is concise yet eloquent. Not only a page-turner, this book can also provoke some interesting moral discussions.” — Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
“Andrew Klavan may be one of the best authors of psychological suspense writing today.” – The Rocky Mountain News
“A tour de force . . . Klavan unleashes mostly psychological suspense and he does it brilliantly.” – The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Klavan smoothly moves the reader through unexpected twists, all along building suspense and never tipping his hand.” – The Denver Post