Sara-Jayne Townsend is a published crime and horror writer and likes books in which someone dies horribly. She is founder and Chair Person of the T Party Writers’ Group. http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com/
High-powered lawyer Danielle has her hands full with her sixteen-year-old son, Max. Autistic Max has always been a handful but of late he’s been getting worse – using drugs, shutting Danielle out, lashing out in anger. In desperation she is convinced to check Max into a well-respected psychiatric institute. But when he is discovered next to the body of a fellow patient, covered in blood and clutching the murder weapon in his hand, Danielle will do anything to prove her son’s innocence.
And therein lies the problem with this book. It relies too much on the assumption that a mother who will do anything for her child – even if illegal – deserves sympathy. Danielle doesn’t come across as a particularly likeable character, flouting all number of laws in an attempt to prove her son’s innocence. At times she comes across as nothing more than a hysterical mother. She refuses to accept the hospital’s diagnosis that Max has schizophrenia, and discovering the murder scene, the first thing she does is attempt hide the evidence that’s incriminating Max.
Knowing that the author is a lawyer, I have to take it on faith that she knows her stuff when it comes to legal procedures, even though the conclusion of the court scene seemed a little too “tidy” to me. The book also churns out too many clichés – evil mental institution experimenting on unfortunate patients and hiding the evidence; hard-bitten cynical technophobic cop (who says he “doesn’t even know how to Google” – my first thought was if he’s so averse to computers how does he even know what Googling means?); the dashing stranger in the bar with whom Danielle has a one-night stand, and then turns out to be the lawyer assigned to defend her and Max; a medical condition that’s very rare in real life but is used far too often in fiction as a handy plot device.
The author is herself the mother of autistic children and claims to be an advocate for autistic children, who are frequently misunderstood. I’m not disputing that this is an admirable cause, and it is clearly the theme behind this book, but perhaps it would be better to approach the book in this spirit, rather than see it as a crime thriller.
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