TagThe Therapist

The Therapist by Helene Flood: Women in Translation Month

It’s August, which means Women in Translation Month, hosted by Meytal at BIblibio. This year I’m starting in Norway, with a splendidly twisty thriller translated by Alison McCullough. 

Psychologist Sara thinks nothing of it when her husband Sigurd leaves a voicemail letting her know that he’s arrived at the cabin for a holiday with his friends. She changes her mind when Sigurd’s friends ring her that night, wondering why he hasn’t turned up at the cabin. Then Sigurd’s body is found with two bullets in the back, and life will never be the same again. 

I enjoyed reading The Therapist, partly for the game of working out what’s really going on. This is well handled by Flood: I didn’t work it out, but with hindsight I feel I could have. Sara’s job also sets up a neat parallel: professionally, she tries to understand what people are thinking and why; now she’s having to do the same with someone close to her. It’s well worth going along on the journey. 

Published by MacLehose Press.

Jeffery Deaver, ‘The Therapist’ (2010)

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

Elsewhere
Jeffery Deaver’s website

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