Back when I worked as a medical board prosecutor, I ran into my share of sociopaths. They were often charming, smiling people, adept at manipulating you into doing their bidding. They could be ingratiating and manipulative, flatterers and charmers. Then the request would come. It might be a small favor, or a demand too big to accommodate. Turned down, their mood would turn ugly instantly. Two-faced is an apt description. Often, you wouldn’t know you were being worked until the flip happened. And as I worked with psychiatric patients a lot, I got pretty good at amateur diagnosis. So it was with much anticipation that I picked up Lisa Scottoline’s latest stand-alone thriller, Every Fifteen Minutes, told in part through the voice of a self-proclaimed sociopath.
Eric Parish is a psychiatrist with a diagnosis of his own – anxiety disorder. When his life begins to unravel during a painful (and legally realistic) divorce from his prosecutor wife and a custody battle over his first-grade daughter, he doubles up his trouble when takes on a new private patient with OCD who needs to perform a ritual every fifteen minutes. Trumped up sexual harassment charges soon sideline him from his job as chief psychiatrist at a Philly hospital, allowing him time to concentrate on the new patient. Then a teenager is murdered and the game is on to stop her killer from striking again.
Scottoline gives a sociopath alternating first person chapters, effectively plunging her readers into his or her mind. It’s a terrifying place to be. It’s hard to imagine a more potentially unreliable narrator. Full of unexpected twists that are entirely believable given how well the characters track their DSM diagnoses, this is without doubt Scottoline’s best stand-alone thriller yet.
This is the perfect beach read. Don’t expect much of Scottoline’s trademark humor in this one, though. Sociopaths are no fun.