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Compulsion    by Keith Ablow order for
by Keith Ablow
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Keith Ablow is a forensic psychiatrist, as is his protagonist in this third entry in his exciting series featuring Dr. Frank Clevenger. Clevenger has given up the forensic part of his practice as he finds it too difficult to divorce himself from the pain of his clients. But, at the behest of an old friend, he agrees to help in the case of a murdered infant on Nantucket Island. The baby's sixteen year-old brother is accused of the crime. Although the boy has been in serious trouble many times, Clevenger believes him when he says he did not kill his tiny sister.

The father of the family, a wealthy self-made man, is an abuser and so suspect. The mother has issues of her own and it doesn't help the whole situation when Clevenger falls in love with her. An interesting case of Munchausen's Syndrome plays through the plot. The science of psychiatry is infinitely absorbing and the reader finds himself thinking, 'Aha, that's why so-and-so did this or that.'

Compulsion is a story of emotional pain and the sins of the fathers being visited upon the children. The glimpses the author gives us into the human psyche are fascinating. The story moves at a good pace and the suspense builds. Just when the tale settles down, another shock is thrown in and we're off and racing again. The ending isn't a sweetness and light finale, but rather one that could actually happen in real life. A thrilling read.

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