PROJECTION by Keith Ablow


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In a disappointing if suspenseful sequel to Ablow’s Denial (1997), a forensic psychiatrist puts his life on the line to quell a revolt in a hospital for the criminally insane. Slasher-killer plastic-surgeon Dr. Trevor Lucas, declared insane by a jury, is sentenced to a Massachusetts mental hospital. Forensic psychiatrist Frank Clevenger, who helped bring Lucas to justice, knows that he didn’t kill anyone, but that, even so, the bad doctor is over the edge, having begun to mutilate his right arm, claiming that it’s possessed by the devil. Clevenger suffers from guilt about the verdict and tries to assuage it with Cynthia, a sweetly loving call girl. But before such healing can begin, Lucas leads a riot in a mental ward crammed with psychokillers, taking as hostages a handful of staffers, including a pregnant nurse. Lucas tosses the hideously butchered body of a female inmate out a fifth floor window and demands an escape helicopter—and a Catholic priest. After a Harvard psychologist sent to negotiate is stabbed to death, Lucas demands that Clevenger join him in the ward. Still guilt-racked but determined to help, Clevenger walks into the lion’s den hoping he can use his none-too-competent psychotherapeutic skills to heal Lucas. After proudly displaying his unbearably gruesome surgical battle with Satan, Lucas hints that his pathology may have something to do with his childhood in Baltimore. Clevenger halts a SWAT team raid on the hospital, then is released by Lucas to find whatever it is that’s been buried in Lucas’s past and with it cure him. If he doesn—t, Lucas will kill everyone in the ward, including himself, in 24 hours. Alas, just as Clevenger hops the first flight for Baltimore, Cynthia at his side, the psychokiller responsible for the deaths Lucas is being blamed for escapes from a cushy mental institution and goes on a rampage. Gore galore with wildly improbable plot twists, while Ablow’s worthy premise—that evil can be vanquished when empathic individuals confront their inner demons—fails to convince.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-679-44212-X
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1999


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