John Burley's fiction debut, The Absence of Mercy, last year and quite enjoyed it. (my review) I was eager to read his just released second novel, The Forgetting Place.
Psychiatrist Dr. Lise Shields has worked at Menaker State Hospital - a facility for the criminally insane for five years. She's a conscientious, caring doctor concerned for her patients' welfare.
Her supervisor assigns her to a new patient named Jason, who has arrived with no paperwork and no history. When she questions the supervisor, she is told to just proceed, that there will be no forthcoming file. But how can that be? Who is this man? Why is he at Menaker? And who is the man suddenly watching Lise's apartment and following her? When the FBI approach her with a tale of a terrorist bombing plot and a murder, she finally has some pieces of Jason's history at last. But can she believe or trust them? When her own life is put in danger, she has no choice.....
I'm deliberately going to be a bit oblique with this review. If you haven't yet read the book, you might want to skip this altogether.
I must admit to feeling more than a little annoyed with Lise for the first half of the book - her morning routines, her acceptance of her supervisor's edict and the FBI's information without taking it a step further and looking into it herself. She wasn't a protagonist I believed in or wanted to get behind. Things do pick up in the second half of the book and I started to have suspicions that my mental list of frustrating actions and questionable plot points were actually part of the bigger plot picture. Chapters from both Lise's and Jason's past give the reader additional information to support those initial suspicions.
With the final 'reveal' in the last part of the book, all suddenly made sense - and my suspicions were confirmed. I did flip back to the beginning to reread the first few chapters with a different eye and view. Readers who don't persevere through those initial chapters would miss a nice little twist.
Burley himself is a doctor and The Forgetting Place benefits from his 'insider' knowledge. Burley handles the topic of mental illness with a deft hand and insight. Read an excerpt of The Forgetting Place.
"John Burley attended medical school in Chicago and completed his residency in emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. He currently serves as an emergency medicine physician in Northern California, where he lives with his wife and daughter, and their Great Dane and English bulldog." You can find John Burley on Twitter as well as on Facebook.
See what others on the TLC book tour thought. Full schedule can be found here.