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A Fatal Debt

A mystery novel by John Gapper

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Good Mystery With Too Few "Thrills

  • May 28, 2012
Ben Cowper (pronounced Cooper) is a psychiatrist with a patient (Harry Shapiro) who is contemplating suicide. Through pressure from his boss, he releases Shapiro to the custody of his wife, Nora provided that Nora hide Harry's gun. Shortly thereafter a rival of Harry's (Greene) is murdered and Harry confesses to the crime. This puts Ben in a tight spot as Greene's family is blaming the hospital that Harry was treated and Ben in particular. To complicate things, the hospital does not back Ben up and his boss gets a case of "amenisia" as to what she had told Ben.

The story plays out from there with very little happening and is more of a "mystery" than a "thriller." Ben meets with Harry's female aide (Anna) and is then beat up in Central Park and his apartment get trashed. Anna, keeps hinting to Ben that she likes him but Ben is worried about getting involved with someone who works for one of his patients.

I tried to like this book a lot more than I did but it is painfully slow. You do not like Harry and Nora Shapiro because they appear very snobbish. Ben's ex-girlfriend Rebecca keeps showing up and you can't figure out what her relationship is with Ben and why they really split in the first place. Harry has a difficult relationship with his father because he caught his father cheating when he was about 10 and then lied to his mother to keep his father's secret. After his mother died, Ben's father married the woman that he had the affair with and Ben is very uncomfortable around her.

I gave this book between two and a half to three stars mainly for the mystery and the anticipation as it unfolds. The lack of any real "thrills" and action kept me from liking it more.

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June 10, 2012
Nice review and you support your rating with good reasons.
June 10, 2012
Thanks and I notice that we both seem to like thrillers.
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I first got on this blog to discuss my first passion which is books. Since I have gotten on I find that books are only a piece of this blog and I can discuss just about anything that comes to mind. It … more
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Ben Cowper, an attending psychiatrist at the prestigious New York–Episcopal Hospital, is stunned to learn the identity of the emergency patient he’s just been assigned to treat: Harry Shapiro, a Wall Street colossus and one of Episcopal’s most prominent donors. But a high-profile reversal of fortune has left the once powerful investment banker jobless, bitter, and possibly desperate—judging by the handgun his wife finds him clutching. In Ben’s expert opinion, Shapiro is a suicide waiting to happen. But when the headstrong financier balks at an extended stay in the hospital psych ward, Ben reluctantly releases him, bowing to political pressure from Episcopal’s chief administrator, who’s more concerned with the patient’s money than his mind.

Days later, the shocking news breaks: There’s been a shooting death in Harry Shapiro’s Hamptons mansion. But even more shocking is the identity of the victim. A tragedy sets in motion an explosive chain of events that turns Ben Cowper’s life upside-down.

As hard-nosed cops close in with harder questions, the hospital closes ranks to protect its own interests. But with colleagues freezing Ben out, innocent circumstances conspire to incriminate him. Hounded by a DA who’s out for blood, and haunted by the specter of a shattered career, Ben has no choice: He must delve into the hearts and minds of the people who know Harry best, uncover the secrets they’d rather ...
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