PsychoAnalysis – V.R Stone

“The mind is like an iceberg. Most of it lies beneath the surface, a subconscious universe of thoughts we can’t observe. It contains memories too painful to remember, elicits emotions we don’t want to feel, and makes us do things we don’t understand.”

Sarah Silver is a hedge fund manager – from Monday to Friday she makes a killing in the markets.  At weekends, though, she hunts men, not profits.  Martin White used to be a brilliant detective. But his family, judgement and self-control are deserting him. And Dr Karl Gross has sold millions of books on serial killers.  However he’s a controversial figure in the medical community.  Can Martin keep it together and catch a killer who commits almost perfect crimes?  Is Karl capable of unravelling Sarah’s psyche and putting an end to the killing?  Or will she disappear when she realises that the hunter has become the hunted?

So, it’s no secret who our killer in this book is.  The book opens as we see Sarah on one of her “hunts”.  She picks up a good looking man in a nightclub, seducing him with her good looks and toned physique.  When she gets him back to her million pound mansion in the Cotswolds, after plying him with alcohol and drugs, she gives him a chance to escape with a head start.  Unfortunately for the poor bloke, Sarah is far fitter and far stronger than him and soon catches him, brutally murdering him with her bare hands.  Her need to kill is something she cannot control, and as her need grows more and more intense, she starts to make sloppy mistakes.  Detective Martin White is the washed out, waste of space police officer hot on her trail, and when I say hot, I actually mean lukewarm on her trail.  Martin has a lot of demons of his own, having recently lost his mother and gone through family breakdown.  Martin copes by being permanently stoned.  Luckily for him his colleague Phil, and his boss, DCS Terrence Cook are on hand to help with case of the disappearing men.  Martin and Phil seek the professional advice of Dr Karl Gross, psychiatrist to the stars and expert in forensic psychology.  Dr Karl can offer only a very basic profile, but when Sarah has a lucky escsape she seeks help from Dr Karl.  Can the arrogant doctor’s therapy turn Sarah around?  Or will the police catch up with her first?

This book is told from three points of view, Sarah, Martin and Dr Karl.  Despite the fact she is a blood thirsty psychopath, Sarah is by far my favourite character.  She is cold, calculating, and completely detached of any emotion.  Sarah is a thrill seeker, she works as an investment banker, gambling daily with eye-watering sums of cash like it was monopoly money.  She is partial to some of the best cocaine, as long as it doesn’t get in the way of her ultimate high – killing.  Despite all this, she is the most likeable in this strange bunch, possibly as she is the only one who is truly honest with herself.

I found Martin the detective very frustrating.  The deeper the story goes the more he loses control of his life, turning to more and more substances to cope.  When he comes face to face with Sarah he doesn’t even recognise her, putting his, and others lives at risk.

The story has been written well, no character is how they first seem, and the writer builds tension well with a few surprises to keep you interested.  The further into the story you get, the darker it becomes and there are some gruesome parts that go into a lot of detail.  I enjoy the blood and gore, but others may find it a bit squeamish!

This book is the old good versus evil dilemma, but it is down to the reader to decide who is good and who is evil.  This is a great debut novel, written  by someone with a degree in psychology and I would have liked even more psychology of Sarah in the book, stripped down to her bare bones.  This twisted story will keep you on the edge of your seat with a satisfactory ending that leaves the door open for a follow up.

Overall I would give this 3.5 stars, and I look forward to reading more from this author.  Thanks to V.R Stone, Silverwhite Press and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy in return for an honest review.

“That old fable” Sarah says, “a scorpion asks a frog to carry him across the river. The frog warns ‘sting me and we both die.’ But halfway across, the scorpion stings the frog anyway.”
Karl nods. “The frog’s dying word is ‘why?’ and the scorpion says ‘it’s in my nature’…”

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