WHEN SHE WAS BAD by Jonathan Nasaw


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The sequel to The Girls He Adored (2001) uses multiple personality disorder as a come-on for a Jekyll and Hyde horror story.

There is good news and bad news about Ulysses Maxwell, the serial killer of the earlier novel. The good news is that his Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) has been brought under control by Dr. Corder, his therapist at a psychiatric institute in Oregon; evil Max has been replaced by sweet Lyssy. The bad news, unknown to Corder, is that Max is still lurking in Lyssy’s psyche. The latest arrival at the institute is another DID patient, gentle Lily, a young woman who acquired Lilith, an alter (alternate identity), while being raped by a biker; fierce Lilith bit off his nose. The rehabilitated Maxwell is facing trial for 12 murders; under the stress, Max surfaces and makes contact with Lilith, who wants to escape. Nasaw sets the stage for a massacre, which occurs when Corder invites the two patients into his family home. In walk two Jekylls, out walk two Hydes, having slashed to death Corder, his wife and their two escorts. This is gut-level exciting because another couple, Lily’s former shrink Dr. Irene Cogan and retired FBI agent E.L. Pender, try and fail to prevent the tragedy. The trouble is, Nasaw peaked too soon; we’re not yet at the midpoint, and nothing will top that massacre. The killers flee to the California hideout of two notorious drug dealers, Carson and Mama Rose; the latter had rescued Lily from the biker. There will be more mayhem before Lily/Lilith and Lyssy/Max move to a cabin in the woods and the inevitable confrontation with Cogan and Pender. Nasaw tries to keep things interesting with constant alter switches, but they just become distracting. As Pender says, “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard.”

Nasaw’s overriding interest is an impressive body count, but even nine corpses can’t guarantee thrills.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-4165-3416-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Atria
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2007


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