Review

Man and Wife

by Andrew Klavan



"Maybe if I had loved her less, there would have been no murder."
Dr. Cal Bradley begins his confession with these words. The doctor,
a psychiatrist of slight build and thin courage, is near giddy with
love for his beautiful wife Marie. For 15 years, theirs has been an
idyllic marriage with little mention of her mysterious past. Then,
their paths cross with Peter Blue, a spiritual young man with a
radiant smile, whose insecurities lead him to batter his
girlfriend, torch a local church and pull a gun on the Chief of
Police. When the 19-year-old suspect attempts suicide in his jail
cell, the good doctor's expertise is enlisted to evaluate the
troubled Mr. Blue. Thus the downhill slide begins for Dr. Bradley.
How can his lovely Marie, mother of their three children, be
involved?

The small-town police chief, a giant of a man with a chip on his
shoulder, sets his sights on Peter Blue early on, incensed that the
lad had the gall to aim a gun at him. Dr. Bradley has his hands
full keeping the defendant from Chief Hunnicut's clutches as he
desperately tries to unravel the connections to his family and
past. When a malevolent ex-con enters the picture, the downhill
slide gathers speed. Faced with hard decisions, the doctor wages an
internal war, grappling with himself whether to do what's obviously
right or to turn a blind eye.

Amid Peter's prophetic dreams and Cal Bradley's haunted memories of
his sister's suicide, the doctor learns much from his patient. With
his life inexorably intertwined with that of Peter Blue, the
psychiatrist faces several moral dilemmas. Did he counsel his ward
in a manner truly aimed at helping him or might he have
subliminally pushed Peter to the brink?

In this gripping thriller, the power held by the omnipotent
practitioner is well demonstrated. Cal Bradley is highly respected
in his community, balancing the clinic's bottom line with the human
needs of the inpatients. Peter Blue, impressionable and filled with
feelings of habitual betrayal, clings fiercely to a relationship
once it's formed. When he was a child, his father simply didn't
come home one day, leaving the son wondering why and laying him
open to ruthless predators in his search for answers to his
adequacy as a man and as a person. Now Dr. Bradley becomes a father
figure to Peter Blue. The youth unflinchingly invests his faith in
his counselor. But can the doctor help him understand his past, or
is he too wrapped up with the horrors dawning in his own life to
steer his patient right? Does he sacrifice Peter to maintain his
own happiness?

Klavan is the Grisham of psychological suspense, holding you
mentally hostage in the psych clinic as adeptly as Grisham
captivates you in the courtroom. Full of vivid characters, both
lovable and hate-able, MAN AND WIFE is very well written, moving at
a lightning pace. At the end of each chapter, just when you think
you can turn out the light and tuck yourself in, Klavan delivers
another zinger. Prepare yourself for a late night, because putting
this book down is nearly impossible. Then be ready to spend a few
sleepless nights beyond that pondering how you would have handled
the situation. The predicament is insidious and will keep you
weighing the options long after you've finished the last
page.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 22, 2011

Man and Wife
by Andrew Klavan

  • Publication Date: October 26, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Forge Books
  • ISBN-10: 0765302152
  • ISBN-13: 9780765302151