Fractured Psyche by Gwen Rickman

Fractured Psyche

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In Rickman's (No Warning—No Mercy, 2011) second thriller, Capt. Fred “Mac” Makey returns, faced with inmates being murdered at a correctional facility as well as an escaped prisoner.

Mac and the officers at Desert Correctional Facility have ways of handling murder among the inmates, but when a series of killings leaves no clues or witnesses, they’re at a loss. The situation only escalates when a death-row inmate—helped by his white-supremacist gang—breaks free during his transport. Authorities hunt for the escapee while Mac wonders if the prison murderer might not be an inmate, but one of the staff. Rickman’s elaborate novel sometimes has the feel of a TV series—one with multiple storylines knitted together. It opens with a widower swearing vengeance after his daughter was raped and killed. While this tragedy ignites the ensuing prison murders, the murders themselves become a subplot amid several others—the absconded inmate, a son writing to his father in prison, a correctional officer’s brutal attack, and an inmate claiming innocence and having his cellmate help with his appeal. But all of the storylines connect, and Rickman devotes the narrative to exploring every subplot, which explains the book’s length. What the author does best is maintain suspense by revealing only snippets of information at a time: The killer’s identity isn’t made known until halfway through the novel; bikers, who might be members of the escapee’s gang, seem to be following Mac and his family; and some murders have happened outside the prison walls. With so many characters, it’s not surprising that a few of them aren’t given much coverage—so it’s disappointing that officer Judy Jordan, who demonstrates her martial-arts prowess while blindfolded, is seen so little. But for every mystery that Rickman teases, there’s a resolution, and she even manages to resolve two of them in one explosive scene near the end.

Replete with stories and secondary stories, but carefully and judiciously plotted; hopefully we’ll see Mac again.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1480138834
Page count: 468pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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