Stephen White, Privileged Information (Pinnacle, 1991)
[originally posted 4Feb2002]
For eight years I have been laboring under the delusion that Private Practice was Stephen White’s first Alan Gregory novel. After discovering my error, I rushed to rectify it and picked up Privileged Information ASAP. And where Private Practice was good enough to get me involved with Alan Gregory and his therapeutic investigations, it pales beside Privileged Information.
The best thing about this novel is that it takes the notion of privilege, something those of us who watch Law and Order religiously are well aware of from the point of view of the police and the prosecutors, and gives us the other side of the argument. Therapist Alan Gregory, as the novel opens, is confronted with the sudden and unforeseeable suicide of one of his patients. The system starts to work, thanks to some leaked information, and various persons ranging from the victim’s father to a persistent newshound start crucifying Gregory in the local papers. Through Gregory’s conversations with his lawyer, the deputy assistant DA, and the police, we get to see privilege from the side of those whose professions it’s designed to protect, and we get a full understanding of how frustrating privilege can be to those responsible for keeping it.
Not to say the book is without flaw. The mystery that develops therein has a predictable path, and we know whodunit relatively quickly. There are a few twists and turns, but nothing an avid mystery reader won’t crack within a few pages after the introductions of the various clues along the way. That, however, in no way detracts from the book’s readability.
If you’re familiar with the Alan Gregory novels, but haven’t read this one yet, do so at the earliest possible opportunity. If you’re not familiar with Alan Gregory yet, what are you waiting for? ****