Trance (Alex Madison #1), by Adam Southward

Eight stars

After having the author Adam Southward recommended to me, I could not wait to get started on the debut book in his Dr. Alex Madison series. Quick paced and entertaining, Southward does well to win the reader over in the early chapters. Dr. Alex Madison has been seconded to work within one of Britain’s prisons, helping with an odd case involving one of the inmates. After viewing the video footage, Madison is baffled as to what might be going on with Victor Lazar. After whispering something into the ear of a fellow inmate, the unsuspecting victim enters a trance and soon commits suicide by bashing their head into a wall. Lazar was originally incarcerated when he was found at the scene of three bodies, a pool of blood growing by the minute. While Madison wants to help, he has no idea what might be causing Lazar to telepathically suggest others to self-harm. Working with some of the other psychologists at the facility, Madison soon learns that there is more to the Victor Lazar story, which traces back to an orphanage in Romania. Discovering that Victor was part of a series of mind experiments in his youth, Madison must learn as much as he can and how to override the trance abilities. When Lazar escapes onto the streets of London, it’s a race against time to stop this killer and discover what’s fuelling his spree. A great first novel that will impress many readers with its unique perspective. Recommended for those who enjoy a quick-read thriller, as well as the reader with an interest in all this psychological.

While I was offered an ARC of the second book in the series, I thought it best to begin at the start. Powering through this novel, I am now eager to see what else Adam Southward has in store. Dr. Alex Madison proves to be an interesting character that many readers will likely enjoy. With a strong backstory, the reader can learn a little about the man’s past, living in the shadow of his academically-inclined father and the struggles in his personal relationships, including a failed marriage. Throughout the story, the reader can see some of the progress Madison makes, both in the case at hand as well as with his personal exploits. There is much to learn from the protagonist, which will hopefully be resolved in the coming novels. Other characters prove helpful in pushing the narrative along. Both the British and Romanian casts serve to shape the overall story, which is entertaining while also teaching the reader a great deal. In a quick narrative, the reader is able to learn a great deal and the themes presented will likely leave the reader wanting a great deal more. Psychological thrillers are good reads, particularly when handled effectively. Southward has a handle on them and I am eager to see what else Alex Madison will discover in the novels to come.

Kudos, Mr. Southward, for a great series debut. I am eager to get started on the second novel to see what else you have for your readers to enjoy.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: