Friday, July 8, 2011
Publisher /Format: Atlantic Monthly Press (2011), Hardcover, 320 pages
Subject: murder, aging, alzheimer's disease
Genre: murder mystery
Source: e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley
Rating: 4.8 of 5
Brilliant! A murder mystery interwoven with a look deep into the mind of an Alzheimer's patient. I've read several other books about demetia this year, so I think I was expecting more same old same old, but Alice LePlante has definitely written something fresh and provocative. As a mystery, it's first rate and as a treatise on mental illness it's not far behind.
As Dr. Jennifer White, a renowned orthopedic hand surgeon drifts in and out of periods of coherent thought, we take a journey with her through well-remembered long -term memories of childhood, early adulthood and raising her children, her early career, her marriage, and then through the terrifying lapses of short-term memory - of not knowing who these familiar looking faces are, of waiting for visitors who will never come, of escapes from her care-giver, and ultimately of her confinement to a more secure facility. We see the patient from within her warped and failing brain synapses, and from the view of her daughter, her son, her mentor, and the detective investigating the murder of Jennifer's life-long friend, found dead with four fingers of her hand surgically removed. Did Jennifer kill her? If she did, could or should she be tried given her current mental state? Can she remember? If she didn't, who else would have had the surgical skills to amputate fingers that cleanly?
It is a fascinating study, a thrilling murder mystery with a stunning surprise ending, and a work that definitely makes the reader anxious to see what will follow this fantastic debut.
Many thanks to Atlantic Grove for making the ARC available through Net Galley.