Stephen White, Remote Control (Signet, 1997)
[originally posted 19Jul2001]
Remote Control is very much one of those great mysteries, the kind that makes you read a couple of paragraphs at every stoplight. (Please control the urge to read while driving.) By now, we should all be familiar with White’s cast of characters (Remote Control is the fourth Alan Gregory, psychiatrist-turned-don’t-wanna-be-detective, novel [ed. note 2014: actually, it is book five in the series]) and his method of dropping loads of bricks on us when we’re not looking, and slipping the clues in while we’re still rubbing our head and cursing the building contractors. This time around, White gives us a self-absorbed technowhiz entrepreneur, a law-student intern with a recently-dead Senator father who falls head over heels for him, his abrasive partner, and a parallel thread running through the novel at the end of everything, where Alan’s wife Lauren is being interrogated for the shooting of an unidentified man. Problem is, no one, including Lauren, is sure she actually shot the guy.
Yes, it all comes together perfectly (think Memento, except that both threads are moving forward—one just moves more slowly than the other). White is one of those guys who writes good, clean, fun mysteries that are on the level of the big guns, but never gets the press they do. If you haven’t yet picked up a Stephen White novel, give him a shot next time the New York Times Bestseller types are between books. *** ½