Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Fatal Debt-John Gapper

A Fatal Debt

John Gapper

Ballantine, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345527899

Fiftyish Wall Street banker Harold Shapiro is depressed after being fired. His wife Nora worries about his mental state. Nora takes Harry to Episcopal Psychiatric ER after he was shouting at traffic and frightening dog walkers in Central Park. Psychiatrist Dr. Ben Cowper treats the patient. Harry demands to leave over the objection of Ben; the hospital administration sides with Harry so reluctantly Ben signs the release form.

Not long after Nora takes Harry to their place in East Hampton, he murders Marcus Greene. Harry’s lawyer blames Ben for releasing his client too soon. The media roasts Ben who they blame for the Long Island tragedy. The hospital administration and Ben’s peers reject mea culpa insisting it is a doctor’s solo decision to release or not. The ambitious DA goes after Ben rather than a sick man. Ben decides to save his reputation by making inquiries into the homicide, but runs up against lies and denial.

This is an exciting thriller that has an incredible set up starting with insight into Wall Street fraud and the media condemnation of Ben. When he turns into an amateur sleuth his incompetency as a detective adds to the excitement though one must wonder why he did not hire a pro. However, in the second half, the storyline loses plausibility but remains gripping except for a seemingly “required” romance that detracts from the overall engaging plot.

Harriet Klausner

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