Sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll might not provide obvious comfort to victims of abuse but in Doctor Natalie King we are confronted with a forensic psychiatrist whose approach to mental healthcare is more black book than text book.
In a race to reveal the injustice of a seemingly tainted underclass the Ducatti riding maverick drives a full throttle swathe through the medical code of conduct as she strives to uncover the truth behind two missing children whose mothers have fallen under the intoxicating spell of a deeply manipulative man blind to the sanctity of childhood innocence.
Medea’s curse was to kill her children to punish her husband and this mythical reference provides the fictional allusion as Anne Buist brings her twenty five years of perinatal psychiatry experience to the fore in this expose of domestic abuse that is allowed to continue unchecked due to the fear and silence of the victims.
The testosterone in this highly fuelled drama is supplied by Liam O’Shea, a leather clad lawyer whose alpha male persona ignites the exchanges with Natalie and leads to sparks both in and out of the bedroom. The pace of the story is driven by this combustible partnership but balanced with regular punctuations of the painful but necessary questioning process that teases out the truth from the reluctant and occasionally duplicitous victims.
At a stretch the dynamic of this double act could be an antipodean throwback to that 80’s classic Dempsey and Makepeace with the crackling sexual tension creating both humour and anticipation but inevitably, given the subject matter, the plot is deeply laced with negative emotions as the reader is moved like a chess piece around an investigative mind map struggling, like the psychiatrist, to get into the heads of the main protagonists.
The dark shadow of paedophilia lurks behind the closed doors of those whose memories have been so deeply suppressed that they instinctively question their very happening and it is by gradually breaking down his wall of denial that we are delivered a convoluted and surprising denouement. The humane resolution may not be textbook but it is probably reflective of the author’s desire for the medical profession to follow the spirit rather than the letter of the law when addressing one of society’s most shameful secrets.
Medea’s Curse by Anne Buist (Published by Legend Press. Price £8.99)
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