When one psychologist accuses another of planting false memories in a client’s mind, everybody lawyers up and someone winds up dead.
In Kluft’s (Good Shrink/Bad Shrink, 2014, etc.) latest novel, attractive young associate Linda Gilchrist becomes part of the defense team for even more striking Dr. Joan Underwood, the target of a lawsuit by another psychologist, Dr. Gordon Travers. Underwood had treated one of Travers’ former patients, Melody Jarrett, who suffered from multiple personality disorder. One of Jarrett’s personalities said Travers had molested her during her counseling sessions with him. Travers said the “recovered memories” Underwood brought to the surface were false, and that revealing them damaged his practice and reputation. But Gilchrist’s team feels Travers doth protest too much, and that he thinks “he can ride that whole false memory thing to a big payday” against Underwood and the hospital she worked for while treating Jarrett. But is Travers in the right, and does Jarrett have some hidden agenda? She did leave his practice abruptly, and then refused to take his calls. Curiously, the governor has a private interest in the case. He also has a personal interest in well-connected Billie Mason, a beautiful woman with a backstory who’s “admired for her gravity-defying bust.” The author is a professor of clinical psychology who has served as an expert witness and a defendant in trials involving false memory. His knowledge and experience allow him as a novelist to get into the weeds of the subject, offering intriguing details and realistic courtroom scenes. But the throughline of the book can get lost among the discussions of marital woes and favorite mystery writers. In addition, an overabundance of characters bogs down the story. To help readers, a two-page glossary of major players is provided, but while it includes an entry for a dog, it fails to list key character Travers. Graphic language may put off some readers. But others will delight in seeing various players’ secrets unspool in and outside of the courtroom.
While the large cast slows its momentum, this courtroom tale should appeal to readers who enjoy legal and psychological maneuvers.