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The Architect


The Architect

Reading a Keith Ablow novel is in one way a labor of love. Ablow's
protagonist, Frank Clevenger, is a bit too much to take at times.
Granted, he is a forensic psychiatrist, but his continuing
confrontations with evil haven't stopped him from believing that
joining hands and singing "Kumbaya" will thwart, stop, and convert
it. This attitude is simplistic at best, and dangerous at worst.
The problem here is that Clevenger's bleeding heart occasionally
distracts from the fact that Ablow is one heck of a storyteller, a
craftsman who creates a world within bindings that is impossible to
leave once the journey is commenced. This never has been truer than
in THE ARCHITECT, Ablow's latest and best work.

Frustrating as his protagonist can be, Ablow is able to create
mesmerizing, complex, and fascinating villains. The architect, West
Crosse, is Ablow's most significant creation to date, a serial
murderer with an agenda that is simultaneously selfless and the
product of pure, unadulterated ego. The reader is on to Crosse
fairly early in the proceedings, and it is left to Clevenger and
North Anderson --- his more accessible, likable better half --- to
methodically sift through the seemingly unconnected, apparently
random murders to find a common nexus. A brilliant, gifted
architect, it seems that Crosse has a select clientele, limited to
members of the secret society known as Skull and Bones. His victims
are connected to his clients and share a common trait, but the
subtle layers of secrecy that Crosse creates among himself, his
clients, and his victims make him seemingly impossible to

Ablow does an absolutely stunning job of creating an apparently
undetectable character and then slowly setting up the means by
which he is revealed. His pacing is brilliant, setting up an
excruciating tension to a climax wherein Crosse approaches a
personal and professional twisted masterpiece involving the
President of the United States. The ending is a total surprise and,
as with the rest of THE ARCHITECT, worth tolerating Clevenger's
increasingly irritating and ultimately ineffective worldview.

Ablow takes a number of chances in THE ARCHITECT but remains as
surefooted as ever, simultaneously moving his story forward at
breakneck speed while developing Clevenger's personal life at a
much slower pace. With regard to the latter, there is a cliffhanger
that is probably unnecessary; anyone reading THE ARCHITECT most
surely will be back for the next installment. Highly


Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 22, 2010

The Architect
by Keith Ablow, M.D.

  • Publication Date: July 1, 2005
  • Genres: Fiction, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312323921
  • ISBN-13: 9780312323929