An entertaining tale of an off-kilter mind coping with shady surroundings, told with literary flair.



Creeping schizophrenia takes the reins of a young doctor’s mind in this subtle psychological mystery.

Simon Felsper, a medical student in London during the 1950s, has a preternaturally soothing bedside manner that makes him a favorite with patients. He also has, according to a psychiatry lecture he attends, the symptoms of a schizophrenic—an obsession with good-luck rituals; an authoritative voice in his head whom he dubs One; a penchant for biblical-sounding pronouncements like “You are the chosen one”; and a feeling that he is the target of a vague plot by one of his classmates, an aristocratic rake with the deceptively harmless nickname of Badger. When he is exiled to San Francisco after a run-in with Badger, Simon’s medical practice swells along with his sense of destiny. Convinced by One’s declarations that he is an enlightened soul, Simon believes that he can cure vague pains and malaise just by laying on his hands—and soon a devoted following of patients agrees. Yet he can’t shake the influence, real or imagined, of Badger, whose tentacles extend to a senior colleague and a high-priced call girl whom Simon is seeing and eventually entangle Simon in a murder. The author makes this odd, potentially claustrophobic story into an entertaining, slightly satirical novel of manners with noir-ish overtones, as Simon’s sensitive, grandiose perspective plays off the prosaic, crass outlooks of the people around him in a symphony of mutual incomprehension. Brooke tells the yarn with a dry wit, sharp-eyed prose and a knack for vibrant characterizations. (Badger, a confection of bluster, bonhomie and sly malice, is indelible.) The author is also a neurologist, and one of the book’s manifold pleasures is its well-observed portrait of the medical culture of 50 years ago, when authoritarian doctors treated patients with exquisite disdain. Brooke gives us a shrewd, absorbing study of a sensitive soul drawn into paranoid delusions that may not be so far-fetched.

An entertaining tale of an off-kilter mind coping with shady surroundings, told with literary flair.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0986823206

Page Count: 424

Publisher: Michael Brooke Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 23, 2011

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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