Martin Kobel is a behavioural therapist who specialises in treating patients who have (he believes) been affected by ‘nemes’ — bodies of negative energy that cause people to commit harmful actions. On encountering Annabelle Young, a teacher who has clearly come under the influence of a neme, Kobel is so concerned for her pupils that he ‘treats’ Annabelle by stabbing her to death. A court case follows, which hinges on the question of whether or not Kobel is insane.

There are two modes of narration in ‘The Therapist’, and it’s along those lines that my opinion of the story divides. I think the passages narrated in first-person by Kobel are very good, as the journey in his company becomes ever more disturbing; but I found the courtroom sequences rather dry by comparison. Still, Deaver keeps the state of Kobel’s mind nicely ambiguous, and the twists of the court case pay off in a very satisfying way.

Rating: ***½

Jeffery Deaver’s website