by Cynthia Chow
Details on how to win a copy of this book at the end of the review.
There are bad days, and then there are bad years. A selfish decision made by psychiatrist Mark Angelotti led to an unimaginable tragedy, and it cost him his marriage, the custody of his son, and nearly his sanity. Haunted, Mark fled his practice to become a clinical psychiatrist at a Chicago teaching hospital, but then a genetic disease suddenly rendered him blind. Although Mark has adjusted to his new life, the retirement of his friend and mentor leaves Mark with a new boss, one whom Mark openly scorns—and therefore finds himself relieved of his cases and assigned to the Cook County State Attorney as a consultant for a recent notorious murder.
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University of Chicago professor Gunther Westlake was stuffed into an artistic anatomical rendering of female genitalia, with his own rather glaringly absent. Although Westlake’s outspoken sexist and right-wing opinions had garnered him no shortage of enemies, it was his estranged wife Rachel Lazarus who immediately confessed. Claiming that the murder was the result of years of abuse, Rachel and her attorneys plan to use Battered Wife Syndrome as a defense. Although Mark disagrees with the use of BWS as a legitimate diagnosis, he supports that Rachel was definitely suffering from PSTD. Mark’s stand is completely undercut in court, though, when his testimony is discredited by evidence that casts suspicion on his ability to be unbiased.
Mark’s first instincts are to seclude himself from the fallout that results when Rachel is found guilty, but he can’t accept the burden on his conscience. In order to delve deeper into Westlake’s marriage and his life, Mark is forced into working with Rachel’s attorney. That Hallie Sanchez was his not-quite-girlfriend means that she’s technically not his ex, but that hasn’t kept her from being furious that he took a case against her. It will definitely be awkward, but for readers, it’s tremendous fun.
This is one of the strongest psychiatrist mysteries written today; the author succeeds in making each topic fascinating—even the brief court scenes are riveting. Mark and his colleagues have the black humor common among first responders, as they all share the experiences of seeing humans at their very worst; an early scene of Mark bantering with an attractive neighbor who shares his acerbic wit is a true delight. Equally compelling are the details of Mark coping with everyday tasks, for while technology seems to have enabled him with an app for everything, simply having furniture rearranged renders him helpless. After having struggled to overcome his own abused past and horrific losses, a recent development should spur him on to taking a new, more promising path. This is a smartly plotted mystery that continues to feature a very likable, wisecracking hero, and he allows the author to entertain readers without shying away from darkest corners of the human mind.
To enter to win a signed copy of Dante’s Dilemma, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Dante,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 8, 2015. U.S. & Canadian residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address.
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