Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Dead Student by John Katzenbach

Timothy Warner wakes up on his ninety-ninth day of sobriety, unsure if he will make it to one hundred.  Moth, his nickname, calls his uncle Ed.  Ed is a psychiatrist who acts as Moth's father figure and more importantly, he is a recovering alcoholic with years of sobriety.  Moth knows if anyone can help him through the day, it's Ed.  They make a plan to meet at their usual AA meeting at suppertime after Ed's workday is done and Moth's classes are over.  But Ed is not there.  After the meeting, Moth rides over to Ed's office to see what held him up.  He finds Ed seated at his desk, his head in a pool of blood.

The police say its suicide, but Moth knows that can't be true.  Unsure who to turn to or who he can trust, he turns to a girlfriend from years ago, his high school sweetheart, Andrea, or Andy, as he calls her.  Andy is home from college, caught up in her own life drama, but she listens to Moth and as he attempts to find out what happened, helps him.

In the background is Student#5, a cunning, cold man who has held a grudge for decades against Ed and the rest of a group of men who knew each other.  He believes the group has done him a terrible wrong and has spent his life training and planning to kill them each.  His plan is almost complete; his crimes over the years never detected by police since he makes them look like accidents or suicides.  But he hasn't planned on Moth and Andy, or Susan, the prosecutor from Moth and Ed's AA group who helps them.  Can this group of amateurs track down the killer before he kills again?  Before he kills them?

John Katzenbach has been a master of the psychological thriller for years and is at the top of his game.  His characters are believable, their plans full of holes and mistakes a person unused to crime would make.  The reader is drawn into Moth's world and can't help but hope that he and Andy can survive and come to a resolution.  This book is recommended for mystery readers.

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