Every 15 Minutes, author, Lisa Scottoline; narrator, George Newbern
The book was read well by George Newbern in a voice that did not take over the story, but simply led the reader on in a straightforward fashion. Scottoline fans will love the tension that builds and the several premature endings that twist and turn until the final one is revealed. If you love a book that keeps you wondering, this is it, however, by the time the book actually ended, it seemed to me to be anticlimactic. It almost felt as if the author couldn’t decide which ending to use so she incorporated them all. She also couldn’t select one motive to follow, one plot line that was credible, so the book boiled down to a confusion of conspiracy theories. As one problem worked toward a solution, another was introduced to either create further confusion or tension, depending on the reader’s interpretation. Nevertheless, it is a thriller that will keep you engaged, if only to find out which ending is the real ending! The narrative is interspersed with the voice of a sociopath explaining what the term means, explaining that we should be afraid, sociopaths are everywhere and they look for victims, they prey on us, they feel no remorse. The sociopath presents questions and answers, explanations to benefit the reader’s understanding. For sure, the characters will keep the reader guessing to find out when the real sociopath will finally show up.
From the get-go, the book seemed a bit contrived with a main character, a Psychiatrist, Dr. Eric Parrish, who, while very honorable and empathetic, seemed way too naïve to be in the position he held as Chief of the Havemeyer General Hospital’s Psychiatry Department (could he be the sociopath?). There was Kristine, the conniving medical student (Was she the sociopath?), Kaitlin, a mean, vengeful almost divorced wife (Was she the sociopath?), a dying patient with a grandson who has OCD, an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder which causes the sufferer to repeat specific tasks to create emotional stability, (Was he the sociopath?), Hannah, a daughter who was over anxious (definitely not the sociopath, lol), and a host of other likely suspects. There was a hospital board that cared more for its bottom line than anything else, petty rules and privacy and confidentiality laws that compromise law enforcement investigations and freedom of information, a doctor who might be getting paid under the table, an FDA that was bought and paid for with pressure to approve certain drugs, jealous colleagues, sexual harassment, a hostage situation, a bomb threat, a hospital fire complete with heroes and villains, a legal system which meted out justice unfairly, but legally perhaps, hospital politics which protected itself while sacrificing employees who sacrificed for them, the cruelty of divorce and even its effect on the children involved, the prejudice against the field of Psychiatry and its practitioners, the brutality of police methods when searching a home or blackmailing a suspect into giving a confession or providing information, alcoholism, drug abuse, patient abuse, murder, and more. Actually, every societal problem that could be thought of was, if not developed, than it was touched upon. Truth and honor were major themes and even former President Truman was invoked with his famous quote, "I never did give anybody hell. I just told the truth and they thought it was hell”. I kept waiting for one problem to be solved before another cropped up, but I was not to be appeased as they simply accumulated one on top of another. There were so many convoluted accusations against Eric by his wife, his hospital, his staff, the police, an odd family or two, that I couldn’t imagine how it would ever end, and perhaps that is the most redeeming feature, it did keep me guessing. Since there were so many false endings, every idea I could have imagined was invoked, but I never saw the actual ending coming.
Eric was a totally involved father who was being slowly and cruelly cast aside and left out of his daughter’s life, by his soon to be ex wife in her attempt to have more control over her daughter’s upbringing and to begin a new life with another man. She works as a prosecutor, and with her knowledge of the law, she seemed to have gained the very upper hand in the divorce proceedings. Eric’s lawyer did not seem to anticipate issues that she certainly should have in order to protect his interests. It seemed as if Eric was being gamed by his wife and the system in everything he touched. Eric had to deal with the politics of the medical world and the legal world at the same time as personal and professional problems were erupting all around him. The picture that was painted was not a pretty one. There was no end to the underhanded behavior hospital authorities, employees, policemen or wives would engage in to accomplish their goals, whether they were self-serving or altruistic. The world seemed rife with the possibility of corruption at every turn.
When Eric became overly involved, emotionally, with a private patient, Max Jakubowski, the story veered off in another direction and becoame intense as he attempted to help the teen. Although he only met the boy a few times, his issues led the narrative in one direction or another and created situations in which Eric made some really foolish, though more often than not, honorable decisions. Eric is a man who seemed to always be concerned about doing right by his staff and his patients, regardless of laws, rules or regulations. Will his righteousness defeat him or propel him into the future as the mystery works to its conclusion? When it comes right down to it, through a circuitous path, the reader will discover that the book is really all about the sociopath, even though it goes off in so many tangential directions. Don’t peek to find out the ending!