Thursday, 29 September 2016

Book Review: MEDEA'S CURSE by Anne Buist


Medea's Curse (Natalie King, Forensic Psychiatrist, #1)




Title:
Medea's Curse
Author: Anne Buist
Publisher: Legend Press
Read: September 2016
Expected publication: 3 October 2016



Synopsis (Goodreads):

Forensic psychiatrist Natalie King works with victims and perpetrators of violent crime. Women with a history of abuse, mainly. She rides a Ducati a size too big and wears a tank top a size too small. Likes men but doesn’t want to keep one. Andreally needs to stay on her medication.

Now she’s being stalked. Anonymous notes, threats, strangers loitering outside her house.

A hostile former patient? Or someone connected with a current case? Georgia Latimer — charged with killing her three children. Travis Hardy — deadbeat father of another murdered child, with a second daughter now missing. Maybe the harrassment has something to do with Crown Prosecutor Liam O’Shea — drop-dead sexy, married and trouble in all kinds of ways.

Natalie doesn’t know. Question is, will she find out before it’s too late?

Anne Buist, herself a leading perinatal psychiatrist, has created an edge-of-the-seat mystery with a hot new heroine — backed up by a lifetime of experience with troubled minds.


My thoughts:


Natalie King is a young forensic psychiatrist specialising in treating women with a history of abuse. Some of her clients are both victims and perpetrators, and it is often hard to draw the line, considering all the circumstances. When a young child goes missing, Natalie is unwillingly being drawn into the case, as the father of the missing child is also the ex-partner of one of Natalie’s clients, jailed for killing her baby, although Natalie has always suspected that there is more to the story than her client has told her. Now that another child has potentially been harmed, it throws up many questions Natalie has never been able to find answers for. Could the father have been involved in the death of his first child? And if so, is there any chance to find the missing child alive?

It is evident from the outset that Buist knows and cares about her subject matter, which is chilling and not for the faint hearted – parents who abuse and kill their children. There wouldn’t be a reader untouched by such tragic stories, and the author does a good job of slowly unravelling the lies, the deceptions, the horrible truths behind the deaths. I have no doubt that Natalie’s cases are based on Buist’s own experiences and insights, which makes this novel an interesting – if tragic – read. Having a forensic psychiatrist as a main protagonist is an exciting twist on the average crime novel, and one that puts the story into a unique perspective we wouldn’t normally get to explore, especially in an Australian setting. The author does a great job in the way she portrays her damaged and vulnerable female protagonists and the circumstances that led to the crimes they (allegedly) committed. Their characters rang true for me and many elements of the story sent shivers down my spine, as intended.

However, I struggled throughout the book to find an emotional connection with Natalie. Most of the time I found her very inconsistent in her actions and emotions, which I know fits in with her bipolar personality, but which made it hard to relate to her at times. Whilst I got the author’s intention of presenting us with a strong, kick-ass women who knew what she wanted and was not afraid to grab it, I felt that I needed to see some more of her vulnerable side to be able to truly connect . To me, Natalie appeared very hard and callous at times, at odds with her profession and her drive to find justice for her clients, and I struggled to see what motivated her and made her tick. Without this connection, some of her traits and actions read a bit clichéd and didn’t quite ring true for me. I am hoping that this is merely a “first book syndrome” and that Natalie will evolve as a character in future novels, much as Nicci French’s psychotherapist character Frieda Klein, who has grown into a complex, intriguing character over the course of the Frieda Klein series.  I also felt that the author tried to pack many different story lines into the novel, which at times made it hard for the reader to keep track of the multitude of characters appearing at the same time, and diluted some of the emotional connection to each individual character. Whilst in the end all strings tied together nicely, the novel may have worked better with fewer subplots, allowing the reader to become more involved with the individual characters. Just from the subject matter, the novel would have still packed a punch, perhaps even more so with a deeper emotional connection to these damaged women. Again, I hope that with more experience and allowing herself to settle into her writing and characters, this may naturally happen in future novels.

Medea’s Curse is an interesting if often chilling read from an exciting new voice in Australian crime fiction. I feel that this author still has many more stories to tell, and look forward to reading more Natalie King books in future.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Image result for 3 stars


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