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A psychologist’s suspicions grow after someone murders a colleague and signs point to wrongdoings at her workplace.

Mikelena Pearson, a Bay Area psychologist, has some problems at work. TWF Healthcare seems more devoted to cutting costs than to patient health. But Mik is content until a rash of suicides of former patients makes her uneasy, as do reports by some young patients of disturbingly real dreams. After the chief of TWF’s psychiatry department dies from a bizarre stabbing, the psychologist receives a mysterious email message that prompts her to investigate further. Through department meetings, patient sessions and talking with colleagues, she pieces together more of the truth, with her brother Erik and a handsome police liaison, Luke Sustern, as sounding boards. Her professional skills come in handy: “My clinical awareness was heightened and my mind was running in therapist mode, searching for the real story….I felt like someone trying to crack a safe, listening intently while the dial turns, waiting for each click of each correct number, so that the tumblers all fall in place and I can open it and find out what is really inside.” Mik isn’t all business, though. She likes “hot, sweaty, passionate sex with the edge that comes from knowing others can see you and with the possibility of being caught.” Dixen ably portrays the health care industry with its bureaucracy, ass kissing and meetings held “to arrive at the conclusions that had been created by upper management prior to the meeting,” while convincing the reader of Mik’s genuine concern for her patients. Dixen has some fresh ideas here—such as an unusual kink involved in the murder case—and a punchy, brisk writing style to go with it (sometimes too reliant on choppy sentence fragments for tone).  However, in the end, the solution appears to Mikelena in such a simple, straightforward way that it lacks much suspense or danger. It feels as though there should be more to the story, not least since Mik, even though she narrates the book, is hard to get to know.

An entertaining if anticlimactic murder mystery.

Pub Date: Aug. 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1300002840
Page count: 238pp
Publisher: Lulu
Program: Kirkus Indie
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