Mirror (Alex Madison #3), by Adam Southward

Eight stars

The work of Adam Southward is both chilling and addictive, as I have come to discover with the first two books in this series. There is more than the ‘thrill of the hunt’ found within the pages, as Southward explores things on a psychological level, educating the reader on the nuances of the human mind and how little we know about its true workings. The story is strong and pulls the reader in, while discussing some of the most horrid ways humans treat one another, using depravation and abuse to instil control. A dark, yet captivating, read for any reader willing to take the plunge.

When Eva Jansen disappears from a psychiatric ward, no one takes notice, not only because she is simply a patient, but because her records have been expunged from the system. The history of the woman is known to few, but those who notice are assured that there is something sinister going on.

A covert meeting with a nurse from the ward with forensic psychologist, Alex Madison, yields many questions and concerns. Madison wonders about what is going on within the walls of that facility, especially when he discovers one of the doctors has been overseeing the release of a number of female patients before their treatment is complete. Madison also learns that Eva possesses a unique ability to read minds, pulling thoughts to the surface that are buried deep inside.

All this pique’s Madison’s interest, as it sounds a great deal like a criminal group he’s been chasing for years, with deep pockets and connections around the globe. Madison’s worked previous cases of people with mind controlling abilities. Might Eva be in their hands, her abilities a weapon that could be more useful than a crate of guns or an unstable chemical?

A number of events lead Madison to feel he’s being watched and his family is in danger. He must get to Eva before something horrible happens, particularly as he is one of the few who is aware of what’s happened. Working with a group of police officials, they follow a lead to Spain, where Madison learns that Eva is an item in a highly secretive auction that disperses women and girls to the highest bidder around the world. It’s a race to get answers and free Eva before she disappears for good.

Adam Southward is able to pull the reader into the middle of his stories with such ease, painting a vivid picture with a simple narrative. While some may applaud this feat, it must be noted that the images conjured up from the story are rarely uplifting or positive in nature. There is a true sense of depravity throughout, but the underlying attempt to help sweeps away the utter despair that serves as a theme throughout.

Many of the characters who appear throughout are well-constructed and serve a purpose. Fans of the series will know Alex Madison well and the struggles that he has had to endure, from addiction to marital strain and trying to connect with a daughter who is able to love and despise him in equal measure. Madison’s character develops well throughout, complemented by many of those who surround him throughout the different points of the book. Eva Jansen, suffering her own horrible life, offers up some intriguing backstory and development, though some might see a degree of regression as well, particularly in the latter portion of the novel. The author does an amazing job at portraying the characters in such a way that the plot is regularly enhanced.

Southward uses some excellent scientific and psychological angles to serve as underlying themes throughout the book, some of which Alex Madison comprehends, while others are mysteries that appear in some of the darker portions of the narrative. The story flows well and moves along with ease, aided by chapters that educate the reader while propelling things in a forward direction. There is so much to take in, from the struggle Madison has with his ongoing desire to topple the criminal organisation through to the treatment of Eva and many others, leaving the reader to try to keep pace. Not your typical ‘quick read psych thriller’, but maybe that’s for the best!

Kudos, Mr. Southward, for another stellar novel. I marvel at how much I absorbed throughout this reading experience.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.


A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Pain (Alex Madison #2), by Adam Southward

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Adam Southward, and Amazon Publishing UK for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

When provided this advanced copy of the book, I wanted to get the full reading experience, so I turned to the series debut for some context. Devouring and thoroughly enjoying that piece, I knew that Adam Southward would be an author I would be adding to my ongoing reading list, with his captivating plot and well-paced narrative. It has been a year since Dr. Alex Madison handled a major case from the Met. While that one did not turn out as well as he expected, he has returned to consult once again. This case is a little different, but just as baffling. CCTV footage shows someone sneaking into the A&E of a London hospital and inflicting a great deal of pain to a waiting patient, so much so that it leads to an excruciating death. It would seem that this is not the first case of such an attach around London hospitals, but no one is entirely clear who this person is or what their motive could be. On the flip side, the reader is introduced to Mia Anastos, a young woman who can feel no pain, but revels in seeing it inflicted on others. She hides in the shadows and professes that she is on a mission to seek revenge for her pain. Mia’s targeted victims are only the first step in this complex web, as Madison finds her name on a list that matches her description. While Mia evades capture, she is being controlled by a larger group with hopes of neutralsing Dr. Madison themselves. As the psychology of pain comes to the forefront, Madison has a personal life in tatters that requires his additional attention. A great second novel in the series that keeps the reader hooked until the final reveal, leaving them begging for more. Adam Southward has great control over the series and its characters, tapping into the psychological and opening new areas of interest to the reader. Recommended to those who love quick thrillers, particularly the reader who finds matters of the mind of interest.

I powered through the first novel, in hopes that it would hold my attention enough to want to get to this ARC in quick order. Mission accomplished, as Adam Southward is able to mix a well-crafted thriller with strong psychological themes to keep the reader curious throughout. Alex Madison remains an intriguing character, easily liked by the reader. He is on point when it comes to his private practice and work with the police, though some find his insights too hard to comprehend or off the wall, thereby dismissing him. In a personal life that is anything but in order, Madison is forced to wrestle with a dark secret of his own, while trying to track down where to turn next in this highly unusual case. His relationship with his daughter is addressed yet again, as is the strained connection to his ex-wife. Madison has a great deal of growth to go and one can hope Southward will keep readers informed as the series grows. Other characters help to augment the excitement in this book, both with the case and through subplots that Southward uses to cut the tension. One can hope there will be some repeat appearances, as Alex Madison seems to have clicked its some and clashed with others. Southward uses a quick narrative, permitting the reader to learn a great deal in short order. The pain them resonates throughout and kept me wondering as the narrative built-up to a big reveal. Southward has proven he can handle psychological thrillers and police procedurals that mesh together effectively. I cannot wait to see what else is to come for Southward and Dr. Alex Madison.

Kudos, Mr. Southward, for another great ‘single day’ read. I am eagerly awaiting your next literary idea, but will be as patient as I must.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons