Doubleday, Mar 2001, 24.95, 480 pp.
Sentenced drug dealer Ernesto Castro warns New Orleans Assistant District Attorney Kirstin Lord that for every thing he loses, she will lose twice. A few weeks later, Kirstin goes to meet her spouse Robert at the Galatoire restaurant, but sees the hitman wearing the Saints cap assassinate her husband. Though grieving her loss, Kirstin realizes that Castro said “twice” and worries that her eight-year old daughter Amy will be next.
Ironically, Kirstin, a vocal critic of the witness protection program hiding killers from justice, enters the Federal witness security program. She becomes Peyton Francis and Amy becomes Landon, and they relocate to Boulder. Needing psychological help to cope with the upheaval and tragedies of her life she begins to see Dr. Alan Gregory, whose other WITSEC patient is former hitman Carl Luppo, a killer of at least 15-20 people. Carl realizes that something is not right with Peyton's disguise and takes the two females under his personal protection whether it is from Castro or someone more sinister.
THE PROGRAM is an exciting thriller that provides an insightful look into the pros and cons of the witness protection program. Kirstin and Carl are intriguing characters hiding for different reasons. The return of Dr. Gregory is always a reason to rejoice, but in all honesty his role is a secondary catalyst to the fast-paced main plot starring Kirstin. Still, he plays a pivotal role and his sessions with his two patients seem very real, making the story line feel genuine. Best-selling author Stephen White may have written his best novel to date with this tremendous taut tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner