Can a psychiatrist prevent a crime when it exists only in a patient’s mind?
When she receives a wedding invitation from one of her former patients, forensic psychiatrist Dr Claire Roget is more than a little alarmed. Highly intelligent and manipulative, Jerome Barclay suffers from a severe personality disorder. Although she has never been able to prove it, Claire believes him to be highly dangerous, responsible for at least three suspicious deaths – and she fears for the safety of his new bride. What’s more, Jerome seems to know rather too much about Claire’s personal and professional life, including intimate details concerning her other patients. What sinister game is he playing?
With no proof as to Jerome’s possibly murderous intentions, Claire’s hands are tied. Can she prevent a tragedy unfolding? And is Claire herself at risk?
In January of this year I read “Recalled to death” by this author and I truly enjoyed it. So… that fact coupled with the psychological themes in this novel, I fully expected to enjoy “Dangerous minds” just as much. Alas, this was NOT the case. The principal reason for this is that I just couldn’t connect or sympathize with the protagonist, Dr. Claire Roget. It wasn’t that the character wasn’t developed enough, it was just that I didn’t care for her on any level. I found her to be self-involved, and singularly ineffectual at her chosen profession. This is just my own personal opinion, and I realize that other readers will disagree with me.
The novel, for the most part, concerned Claire’s relationship with a former psychiatric patient, Jerome Barclay. Jerome is a psychopath who likes to taunt and tease Claire about things he may or may not do to others. It seems he has somehow amassed information on some of Claire’s other patients, which has caused her to fear for them as well as herself. He seems to be orchestrating the other patients lives by feeding on insider information… but who on her staff is feeding him the information? When Claire receives an invitation to his wedding in the post, she agrees to attend. This is where she lost me as a reader. I mean really… how naive and foolish. She knows that psychopaths like Jerome feed on attention, so WHY does she attend his wedding? She tells her brother that it is “to keep an eye on Barclay”, but this just doesn’t seem plausible.
I found the novel frustrating. It was clear that all the people in Claire’s professional life have deep-seated issues. Thus I was filled with a sense of unease and foreboding whilst reading it. Not in a good way, but more like watching a loaded commuter train heading toward a section of broken track – then being expected to relish the outcome. Nope!
Claire’s personal life was also in turmoil, and this might have caused me to have more empathy for her, but I just didn’t like her enough.
Set in Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, the novel could just as easily been set anywhere. This is a novel of manipulation, veiled threats, psychotic behavior, and ineffectual doctoring. It tells of those who – because of their mental conditions – are made even more vulnerable by a psychopath. It speaks to how they are often on the fringes of society and have no personal support system. The novel left me feeling hopeless…
“Dangerous minds” is the first novel in the author’s series featuring forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Claire Roget. After reading this novel, I’ve decided that this is a series I will omit from my TBR…
Thanks to Severn House via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
Priscilla Masters is the author of more than twenty crime novels and has retired from her job as a respiratory nurse in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. She has two main series characters:
Joanna Piercy is a detective inspector in Leek, Staffordshire and features in 13 mystery novels. A freewheeling, cycling enthusiast. and psychology graduate she uses her knowledge and instincts to solve cases together with her Polish body building Sergeant Mike Korpanski.
Martha Gunn is the Shrewsbury coroner, a widow with twins; who features in five novels.
Priscilla Masters also uses her nursing experience and medical family to write standalone medical mysteries.