First and foremost, a large thank you to John Nicholl for providing me with a copy of this novel, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Happy to have the latest John Nicholl novel in hand, I rushed to settle down for a guaranteed chilling thriller. Those who have read many of his past books will know Nicholl tends to take things to the most intense and provide chilling detail about abusive situations he has come across in some of his past work. This was somewhat in the same vein, though the story was more one of a memoir that a childhood victim was compiling to publish for the world to read about the horrors of Dr. David Galbraith. Nicholl chills the reader and provides all the ingredients for a successful thriller.
Anthony Mailer has lived quite the life. It is only now, in his adult years, that he is able to look back at the horrors of his childhood, all of which occurred at the hands of Dr. David Galbraith, a child psychologist. Galbraith has been convicted of many sexual assault crimes against his child patients and Mailer wants to adds his own flavouring to the stories being bandied around.
Mailer spends much of the novel recounting the various people that he interviewed about his experiences, from parents to police officials and even those who worked alongside Dr. Galbraith, slowly piecing together the narrative to provide the reader with something a little clearer. A young boy, struggling at home, then thrust into the hands (and eventually lair) of Dr David Galbraith, where he becomes the latest plaything for this sexual predator.
As the story progresses, both Mailer and the reader discover just how depraved things got, as well as how clueless the family might have been to what was taking place. Mailer comes together with the abuse and tries to get a clearer picture, all in the hopes of sharing it with others, who may not fully comprehend the struggles that took place all those years ago. If that were not enough, Mailer struggles with his own family as to how he will face the truths that come to the surface, watching his marriage disintegrate before his eyes. While John Nicholl has penned a few other novels around Galbraith, this one hit home in a different manner and should have series fans eager to dive in!
I have long had an obsession with the books penned by John Nicholl, as they remind me of my years working in the Child Protection field. Nicholl pulls some of the most startling material and massages it into something chilling for the reader to enjoy, or at least gasp as they read. While this was not as detailed as some of the past books, it does offer something chilling and worth reading by the curious reader.
Nicholl has always been able to build a strong narrative, partially pulled from his past experiences. He adds details to keep the reader enthralled and leads the story along many curious paths. His characters are on point and quite realistic, likely from the realism these stories have at their root. Plot twists abound, forcing the reader to synthesise a great deal of information and expect what they least could have predicted. While all this works well, the impact this book had did not match the others in the David Galbraith series, of which this is apparently the third novel. There was a lack of horror and depravity, which may seem odd to mention. However, I have come to expect to be chilled to the bone, but was rather feeling as though I were watching things progress from on high, I think the memoir-style of this book did that, which is no fault of Nicholl’s. I came in expecting to be blown away and was simply highly impressed. That said, many others might find it chilling to the bone, especially new readers to this series.
Kudos, Mr. Nicholl, for another winner. I cannot wait to see what else you create in the coming months.