Warning Signs

A review of Warning Signs
by Stephen White

I’ve recently been in the mood for an exciting, fast-paced book–the kind that pulls you into its grip in the first few pages and doesn’t let go until the story is resolved. After digging through my psychological thriller shelf, I came to the realization that there were none left unread. While I was debating about how to quell my craving for a thriller, someone in my local Buy Nothing group posted that they were gifting six books, three of which were psychological thrillers! Of course, I jumped right on it with a promise to regift the books once read cover to cover. Almost immediately, I found myself at my favorite local cafe with this book, snuggled up with a hot tea and the pages of a new story.

At first, I was a little put off from this book, knowing that it’s the tenth book in a series that are all based around a central character named Alan Gregory; normally I’m not one to read books out of order, let alone one that’s halfway through a long series. However, after reading a bit about the series online and deducing that it might be a good stand-alone book, I decided to go ahead and read it. I was not disappointed. This story was quite the easy read, but it’s also a page-turner; I couldn’t get myself to put it down and go to bed last night, so I stayed up a couple of extra hours to finish the last half of the book (we’ve all been there, right?!).

This story opens at the crime scene involving the brutal murder of a high-profile district attorney, who lives with is bedridden wife. While there are many people who might want this worker of the justice system dead, the prime suspect is a local detective that witnesses place at the scene of the crime just hours before the body was discovered. While the evidence stacks up against her, the people closest to her can’t and won’t believe she’s capable of such an atrocity; to defend her, they seek out two skilled lawyers, one of which is Lauren Crowder. While Lauren works night and day to defend the only known suspect, her husband, Alan Gregory, is called into an emergency meeting with a new client of his. Through this client, Alan finds himself hopelessly entangled in this mess, since his client may know more about the murder than she’s letting on. As this client bears her dangerous secrets, Alan struggles with maintaining trust and confidentiality as he discovers that people he knows–including his wife–may be in mortal danger. For Alan, this burden becomes more than he can bear on his own, leading him to conspire with members of law enforcement to investigate this lingering threat to his family while trying not to lost his client’s trust, and therefore lose his only source of information. As his client reveals more and more about what she knows, Alan finds himself in deep in the trenches of a tale involving tragedy, justice, and retribution. 

One problem that I often have in movies and books (especially crime fiction) is that I figure out the story well before it actually happens–this is actually one of my pet peeves about reading genres that are based on mystery and intrigue. I’m perpetually on the hunt for thrillers and detective novels that are unpredictable, because what’s the point in reading a 500 page book if you know the ending in the first 100 pages? To be 100% honest, this was one of those books. While it may have taken me a bit longer to figure out exactly what was going to happen than it has in other stories, I knew what was going to happen by the time I was halfway done with the book. With that said, this book still kept me enthralled and wanting to finish the story, which perhaps says something about White’s writing and character building.

White also works as a clinical psychologist, so the time you spend in Alan Gregory’s head as he struggles with his difficult client and ethical dilemma is quite enjoyable. Of course, this is coming from someone who is a psychology nut, but I think it’s safe to assume that most people reading psychological thrillers in which the main character is a clinical psychologist feel the same way. White also ties in the psychology of the Columbine High School shooting (1999) to his novel and his characters, which is quite moving when one considers the similar atrocities that have occurred in recent years. While some of the technology mentioned in this book may be a little outdated (it’s from 2002–pagers, anyone?), the events and ideas that sparked this book at very much relevant in today’s society. If these are ideas that resonate with you, give this book a try.

My recommendations: Overall, there are definitely better psychological thrillers out there. Some that I recommend are HadesThe Shining GirlsGone Girl, or The Girl On the Train (they’re worth all the hype). If you’ve read all of the popular ones by now and are running a little low on options, just comment on this post and I may have some other recommendations that you haven’t read yet! Otherwise, this book will definitely do in a pinch. It’s fun, engaging, and scratches the thriller itch we all know too well.

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