Friday, October 23, 2015

book review: Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

The backstory: Every Fifteen Minutes, a stand-alone thriller from the prolific Lisa Scottoline, was one of my book club picks this fall.

The basics:  "Dr. Eric Parrish is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside of Philadelphia. Recently separated from his wife Alice, he is doing his best as a single Dad to his seven-year-old daughter Hannah. His work seems to be going better than his home life, however. His unit at the hospital has just been named number two in the country and Eric has a devoted staff of doctors and nurses who are as caring as Eric is. But when he takes on a new patient, Eric's entire world begins to crumble."

My thoughts: From the description, Eric sounds like a smart, admirable person, right? Unfortunately, both at work and at home, his actions fail to show intelligence. This disconnect was incredibly distracting and made me lose faith in the narrative very early on. I can tolerate a frustratingly stupid narrator given an appropriate reason (i.e. age, trauma, psychoses), but as I read I could not understand how this man made it through medical school let alone is successfully running the number two psychiatry ward in the country.

There aren't a lot of characters in this novel, and there is the obvious straw person character we are supposed to believe is the bad guy. Except if you ever read mysteries, you read thinking the obvious person is not the actual perpetrator. Given that there aren't a lot of options left, the twists were pretty easy to deduce, and they weren't particularly interesting.

Reading this book was a slog for me. There was only one character I liked, Eric's lawyer. He appears far too late in the book to be a main character, but it was incredibly satisfying to see him say to Eric many of things I was thinking. The only other thing I enjoyed in this novel was the insight into psychiatry and its treatment. With a different cast of characters and agenda, that would have been a fascinating set-up for the book.

Favorite passage:  "There was so much mental illness among the criminal population, and so much mental illness being criminalized, that it was impossible to see where one problem ended and the other began."

The verdict: I found this book overly long, the main character both unbelievable and annoying, the plot twists obvious and rather dull. It was a quick read, despite its length, and I finished in a day. For what its' worth, the rest of my book club enjoyed it, despite disliking Eric. So perhaps I was just feeling especially curmudgeonly that day.

Rating: 2 out of 5
Length: 448 pages
Publication date: April 14, 2015
Source: library

Curious? Try it for yourself! Buy Every Fifteen Minutes from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

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