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Fitzek, Sebastian - 'Therapy' (translated by Sally-Ann Spencer)
Paperback: 293 pages (Aug. 2008) Publisher: Pan Books ISBN: 0330453157

Many modern crime novels can be classified as 'psychological thrillers' but Sebastian Fitzek's debut THERAPY is actually a crime novel about psychology.

A huge bestseller in Germany two years ago (where it toppled THE DA VINCI CODE from the #1 position); the central character in THERAPY is a well-known, well-heeled TV psychiatrist whose 12-year-old allergy-prone daughter disappears whilst in his care. Fast-forward four years and the daughter is still missing. The psychiatrist's wife and career have both deserted him but he will not accept that his daughter is dead.

Retreating to a remote holiday island in the North Sea (where of course a storm cuts communications) the psychiatrist is stalked by a mysterious blonde claiming to be a schizophrenic author whose characters come alive and one of them is a 12-year-old girl… In an atmosphere of increasing paranoia and well-crafted tension it looks as if this is going to be a case not so much of 'physician heal thyself' but 'psychiatrist analyse yourself' although all is not what it seems. In fact, nothing is what it seems and the reader is taken down the same sort of convoluted, red-herring strewn road that the viewer was the first time they saw The Usual Suspects. This book suckers you in, but once you're hooked you are there until the final twists and I do mean twists - plural.

It is a cop-out for many reviewers to say things like "to give away too much of the plot…" but in this case I just might have to call on an alibi like that. Suffice it to say that if Alfred Hitchcock had been still working, he would have bitten Herr Fitzek's hand off for the film rights. Or at least set some seagulls on him until he signed them over.

Read another review of THERAPY.

Mike Ripley, England
August 2008

Mike Ripley is the author of the 'Angel' series and writes a regular column for the Birmingham Post.

More crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 17/01/2014 20:22