BookBrowse Reviews Dry Ice by Stephen White

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Dry Ice

A Novel

by Stephen White

Dry Ice by Stephen White X
Dry Ice by Stephen White
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2007, 416 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2008, 528 pages

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In his 15th thriller, White resurrects psychopathic killer Michael McClelland, last seen in the first Alan Gregory mystery, Privileged Information, in 1991

White's first novel, Privileged Information (1991), featured Boulder, Colorado psychologist Alan Gregory who is convinced that one of his his patients, Michael McClelland, is a killer who will strike again, and sure enough he does. Fourteen books later, White has resurrected Michael McClelland in what some reviewers are calling his finest book to date.

Former meteorologist Michael McClelland's earlier excesses nearly cost Dr Gregory and his wife, Lauren, their lives. Now, like every self-respecting fictional psychopathic mass-murderer, he's escaped from the mental hospital for an encore. This time around, it's not just Gregory and Lauren who are in his sights but everyone who he holds responsible for his incarceration, including Sam, the cop who put McClelland away, who is also Gregory's best friend.

While local prosecutor Lauren struggles to stay the course of an important trial while battling her worsening multiple sclerosis, Gregory's life takes on Hitchcockian overtones. His clinical business has taken a dive since one of his patients was shot to death on TV (Kill Me, 2006), and he is haunted by a secret from his past that the just released McClelland knows but his wife doesn't. When Gregory finds himself framed as the suspect in a murder and accused of facilitating the disappearance of the chief witness in Lauren's case, it becomes clear that McClelland isn't the only one intent on bringing the good doctor down.

If you've dropped into this series from time to time, this would be a good time to take another dip. A couple of reviewers caution newcomers from starting with Dry Ice due to the many references to past events and secondary characters. As a general rule I find such concerns a little overrated. Of course, when dropping into an established series there will be plotlines that are unfamiliar and character development that the reader will be unaware of (or at least there certainly should be if a series is worth its salt!). But that rarely means that the reader can't appreciate the novel in its own right - just as a visitor to a country will have a more superficial understanding of its customs than a resident, but that doesn't prevent the visitor from enjoying his stay! In fact, there are a number of series where I'm convinced my appreciation has been greater because I read it out of sequence, because I've been able to get to know the characters and then go back in time to discover what made them who they are. Just as in life, there are some friends you grow up with, with whom there are few secrets, and others you meet as adults and, overtime, discover what makes them tick.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2007, and has been updated for the April 2008 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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