A psychological thriller about a psychologist. That was the draw.
The title of this novel refers to perceptions of reality and the example given in the book explains it perfectly: like a broken mirror the reflection is real but distorted.
This is a clever story where the two aspects of the protagonist's life - private and professional - merge. He is not sure if the unreliable and missing parts of his memories are due to brain damage, mental illness or a conspiracy. The truth surrounds him but he can't make sense of it.
The day job centres around the case of a child serial killer, who can't remember killing his victims or what happened to their bodies. The question the protagonist is assessing is whether the patient is a victim of trauma or evil. The meetings are unsettling and almost supernatural and swing from pity to fear to confusion. Nothing is reliable.
The story is about fear, love, loss and control. A nice touch is the family dog who instinctively knows what is going on and also provides the stability and comfort these loyal creatures always do. I particularly like the home scenes in the early part of the book demonstrating the family bond, which includes the dog.
The unravelling of the protagonist's mind is done well, although I did predict one of the major twists but not the final one, which concludes the story. In hindsight, it was always there and seems obvious now but the clues are subtle, so well done to the author for devising that path.
The writing is effective, taut, and easy to follow with no technical jargon regarding mental illness or psychology. However, the initial chapters in the hospital are stifled and cliche ridden and I did not enjoy them much, preferring the domestic scenes. Once the story gets underway properly with the irrational psychosis and what that leads to, the book becomes gripping.
Twisted is a well planned thriller with plenty of suspense and is fairly paced. Its appeal is that it makes us question reality, how we interpret truth and how we face up to things we don't care for. The writing is nothing outstanding but the story is constructed in such a way that we will be thinking about it long after we have put it down. And that is what really matters.
Published by Thomas and Mercer April 2015.
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