Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Forgetting Place - John Burley

The Forgetting Place
John Burley
Morrow, Feb 10 2015, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062227409

After graduating from John Hopkins five years ago, psychologist Dr. Lise Shields has worked at Menaker State Hospital, just south of Baltimore.  The thirtyish woman accepts her patients are sent to this Maryland facility to be forgotten by family and society as incorrigibly insane, but still likes her job.

However, her latest patient Jason Edwards is different than all the others she has treated as he arrives without the usual advance notice or medical information; her superior Dr. Charles Wagner explains Jason suffers from a violent trauma.  As Lise begins to doubt Jason belongs at this institution, she remains the good bureaucrat except for efforts to learn why he was sent here; which Wagner thwarts.  The FBI accosts her and Lise fears either she inherited mental illness from her Uncle Jim or someone wants her dead.

Although the key late twist seems obvious relatively early, this is a tremendous psychological suspense that makes a solid argument that truth and realism are in the eye of the beholder.  The engaging storyline hooks the audience with its dark melancholy atmosphere mindful of the TV show Bedlam (sans ghosts), Lise’s troubled first person account and Jason’s haunted history. 

Harriet Klausner

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