|Stephen White: Blinded|
Press (Hardcover), ISBN 0385336209
Psychotherapist Alan Gregory does more than his share of thinking about the complications of patient/therapist confidentiality. In Blinded, Alan's ethics versus morals dilemma pops up once again. The beautiful Gibbs Storey dumps her problems on him, adding new facets to the confidentiality issue and opening up a whole new can of ethical worms.
An adult version of the archetypical homecoming queen, Gibbs starts her session with Alan by announcing that she suspects her husband, Sterling, killed a woman in California. Gibbs then asks Alan to call the police for her, bringing Alan's professional ethics into question. If he wouldn't be willing to do such an unorthodox thing for another patient, why will he do it for Gibbs? Could it be her long blonde hair? Her perfect, angelic smile? After some soul searching, Alan realizes the answers don't paint a very pretty a picture of him as a person.
As Alan struggles with ethics, his best friend, Sam Purdy, a police officer, finds himself with a lot of time on his hands and no one to share it with. He returns home after suffering a heart attack to find his wife and young son gone. With an injured and broken heart, Purdy finds himself drawn to the Gibbs/Sterling saga as well. Gibbs uses her beauty to manipulate Purdy into finding the now missing Sterling.
In a change from previous Alan Gregory novels, Purdy narrates his own subplot. Purdy's voice adds some taciturn maleness to the overall mood of the novel, while Alan continues with his sensitive male routine. Purdy's journey cross country allows him to examine some less than conventional views on marriage. He also draws some of his own conclusions about why Sherry left him and if he can get her to come back.
Two factors make Blinded far from White's best. Many of White's metaphors seem to try too hard to find that originality that came so easily in previous books. This strain weakens the book, making the reader ask "Huh?" The overuse of the provocative, terse one-liners in Blinded also detracts, rather than enhance, the suspense of the book. White occasionally explains the one-liners, which leaves the reader feeling condescended to.
Blinded offers a quick read and a fairly interesting plot line, though it upset this reviewer to find she figured out the ending by page 20. Alan and Purdy remain both likable and believable. In addition, their distinctive voices, along with their views on each other, give the novel a buddy aspect. Blinded proves worth reading more for the personal insight into two very different male psyches than the mystery or suspense, but still worth reading.
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