P.T.S.D.

A war veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder is convinced that he’s a murderer but has no memory of killing anyone.

U.S. Marine Gerry Burns turns himself in to the authorities, believing that his connection to five murdered people confirms that he’s responsible for their deaths. He and his wife, Ashley, have moved to a small neighborhood in New England, where Gerry is attending college. Gerry has been diagnosed with PTSD since experiencing combat in Iraq, leading to violent episodes that he later cannot recall. His unease is compounded when people wind up dead following a confrontation with the Marine. Morin’s debut novel has a notably effective structure; the early revelation of the specific number of people killed helps retain suspense, as readers will have to speculate as to who the victims will be. There’s an abundance of characters—from the college, the neighborhood and Iraq—but each one is well defined, intensifying the reverberation of a person’s death. The murders, however, are incidental, as Gerry’s condition stands in the foreground. Much of the narrative is apparently Gerry telling his story to the police, but the past tense is occasionally disrupted by the present: “I had to tell him something to make him go away. I don’t want him staring at me and making me feel crazy.” It gives the impression that Gerry is not simply telling his story but is prone to reliving it as well. Similarly, perspective will sporadically switch to other characters, like a scene in which, during one of Gerry’s outbursts, his first-person shifts to an omniscient view. Much like the protagonist questioning what is or isn’t reality, the reader will doubt the validity of Gerry’s account—or if he’s the only person telling the story. The ending is exceptional, one that resolves some of the plot elements but leaves the rest open. An imposing first novel with a protagonist whose disorientation is so thoroughly illustrated that readers’ senses will smolder before it’s over.

 

Pub Date: July 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1461120032

Page Count: 407

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

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THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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