Few authors can accurately portray the elusive recognition of mental and emotional problems; the descent into madness for some, the frightening spiral of anxieties and obsessions for others. There is a vast range of symptoms from fleeting depression to psychotic episodes. Certainly, the woman dressed in tinfoil who claims to be a Martian as she asks for anything you can spare needs professional help, but what about your co-worker who seems full of energy one day and withdrawn and morose the next?
But, Hayden? You may never read a more precise and compassionate account of the escalation of psychological illnesses. Or one that manages to remain so objective at the same time.
Dr. Dennis Astin sees more than his share of people looking for deliverance; he is a psychiatrist, after all. That doesn't give him immunity to the same conditions that patients bring to his office. At times, Astin seems more disturbed than anyone he's writing prescriptions for. But, is he insane? And, if so, is he crazy enough to kill?
Someone in Center City is, and they aren't content with one corpse. Several of the good citizens of this mundane town are in danger of joining the pile. Surely, whoever is committing the murder must be dangerously insane. The problem is sorting out the merely chemically unbalanced from the hopelessly mad. Hard to do when you are unsure of your own mental health.
Hayden depicts the progression of symptoms in Astin's mind with a subtlety and command that tranfers the doctor's fears to the reader. It is a horrified fascination that compels you to read on and on, even when you wish you could turn away from the train wreck of this man's emotions. It is a wholly involving experience, if an exhausting one. If you think it's difficult not to rubber-neck at accidents, wait until you start this prize.
Once in a great while, you happen upon an author so talented, so unique, that it is torture waiting for the next book. As far as Hayden is concerned, let us all hope that she writes fast.
Quirky book. Author makes some mistakes that the copy editor should have picked up. For instance, zyprex is really zyprexa. However, I finished it in 2 nights of reading - so I was obviously enthralled, lol.