A tense psychological thriller about the human mind.
Convicted murderer Nathan Kline is committed to a mental hospital where, under the care of Dr. Levoir, he slowly works his way back toward sanity—or so it seems. Meanwhile, small-town Melissa Hartman, a girl with an extraordinary sense of smell, escapes her ill mother and abusive father to attend Dartmouth College. She quickly develops a small group of friends, each with a particular quirk: Lea, adept at reading faces; Jason, whose head injury impairs his memory; and Garrett, who had a way with the ladies until he began suffering from inexplicable, crippling headaches. Kline’s tumultuous past and the lives of Melissa and her friends intersect with the mysterious figure of Dr. Carlisle—Kline’s research partner at Dartmouth—and an experiment to discover the truth behind “Charcot’s Genius Postulate,” a theory regarding whether human genius can be created under the right conditions. Each chapter is divided into smaller sections, enabling switches in point-of-view that will help keep the readers on their toes. While the somewhat clinical narrative voice can weaken any attachment to the characters, it blends well with the institutional setting. In addition, the detached tone of periodic scenes of violence makes them all the more visceral and shocking. Characters explore math, neurology and psychology without devolving into a heady space that distracts from plotline twists, and Kline’s reflections on his mental illness are thoughtful and interesting. Readers will struggle to know who to root for in this complex, engaging thriller.
A refreshing change from the usual madman-turned-murderer storyline.