A woman who committed a violent act as a teenager returns to her New England hometown—and her former psychiatrist is murdered.
In Arsenault’s (The Leaf Reader, 2017, etc.) novel, it’s been almost 20 years since Nadine Raines left town after finishing her high school equivalency degree, but something beyond a holiday visit to her mom and stepfather has brought her back. Could it be the desire to harm her former psychotherapist, Mark Fabian? After all, when Nadine was in high school, she attacked a teacher and then spent several years in therapy with Fabian, whom she nicknamed “Bouffant,” before leaving for college and a nursing career. Sgt. Henry Peacher remembers Nadine from high school; he stayed in Campion and, after a brutal rampage at a local nursing home a few years ago, has earned a reputation as Campion’s hero cop. So when he finds a copy of her old file in Fabian's office, as well as a copy of the nursing home shooter’s file, he wonders if there is a connection between these isolated incidents of violence. The novel alternates between Henry’s point of view and Nadine’s, with most of Nadine’s internal monologue addressed directly to (dead) Fabian. Meanwhile, Henry fights to discover some dark truths about the town of Campion and its seemingly upstanding citizens, truths that they might kill to conceal. There’s very little about the novel that truly thrills or that feels original, except maybe the forthright Henry Peacher, who is not a hero but is all the more human for it. Nadine remains shadowy throughout, and Fabian, in the end, doesn’t seem to have been a particularly effective therapist—or a particularly intriguing victim.
A few interesting character intersections but, overall, a fairly derivative thriller.