February 23, 1997
“The Clinic” by Jonathan Kellerman
Reviewed by Mark Lindquist
New York Times Book Review
This is the 11th novel in a series featuring Alex Delaware, a psychologist who solves crimes simply by being smart. He also chats with a lot of interesting people.
The plot in this latest effort is pretty standard: a woman is murdered and various suspects are eliminated — or are they? — one by one. What makes the story somewhat interesting is the victim, Prof. Hope Devane, author of a best-selling male-bashing book called ”Wolves and Sheep: Why Men Inevitably Hurt Women and What Women Can Do to Avoid It.” She also formed an inquisition-style campus ”interpersonal conduct” committee to deal with sexual harassment, some of whose members turn out to have been involved in S & M sex games.
As one of the characters remarks, ”there’s a certain type of person likes to control things, make rules for everyone.” This is not an unusual neurosis, but Professor Devane had it bad. She was, therefore, someone for whom murder suspects abound. Delaware’s investigation reveals how Hope Devane became a professor, a feminist and a full-blown sociopath.
Mr. Kellerman’s novel stumbles when he tries too hard to be hard-boiled or hip, but his creeping revelation of the professor’s secret story is sordid and perverse — and it rings unsettlingly true.