At deeper levels, however, Risk Factor disappoints. Indeed, it is anything but easy to maintain suspense while challenging the reader to explore issues that are daunting, complex, and easily avoided— issues such as the nature of evil and our propensity for violence. Finally, as much as I want to applaud Dr. Atkins' effort and follow his unfolding career as a novelist, I found his evil murderer to be disappointing, as he is too superficial a character to be believable. His hidden sadism is too easily explained by formulaic trauma in early life. Where I wanted to be troubled and moved, I found myself shaking my head "no." Unfortunately, this feeling distracted me from the book's final chapters, even as a novel of suspense.