Psychiatrist

What if the end was really the beginning?

Clive McCord, the therapist who treated Iris Goddard in Somnambulist and Lester Cleverly in Ventriloquist, is not a model of propriety. Although he’s professionally admired, McCord is a barely functioning alcoholic who leaves empty beer bottles on his credenza and prefers his lunches liquid. He frequently falls asleep during therapy sessions and pays more attention to to his cell phone than his patients. His daughter, Bee, is incredibly intelligent and amazingly foul-mouthed. But McCord and Bee have a mission, which seems like it was drawn from the pages of the most incendiary book of prophecy.

The single father and his 13-year-old daughter are eyeing a very specific target: McCord’s receptionist, 18-year-old Gail.

As usual, most of the characters are part of the Chrome Valley universe, but in such unexpected ways that readers might wonder if they missed clues in earlier books. There’s a reason Cind’rella sports a white wedding dress, and it’s not mere gender-bending. There’s a reason Wydron drives a jet-black Bugatti, and it’s not because he likes the color. And yes, there’s a reason police Officer David Lamb is such a jerk, and it’s not because he once took an empty oath to protect and serve the citizens of Chrome Valley.

The story unfolds slowly, the better to reveal its incredible premise. This hypothesis is especially important to Gail, who over the period of a few days transforms from a gum-popping pink-collar receptionist to the carrier and defender of a revolutionary secret. Her exit from the dying Chrome Valley signals the true death of the woeful town that’s always been an afterthought of the British social conscience.

But it’s not the end of the story. As she visits her dying mother, Gail’s reasoning becomes clear, and the cloud that has hung over Psychiatrist suddenly lifts to reveal a technicolor world.

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