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Compulsion: A Novel [Hardcover]

Keith Ablow
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 22 2002 Frank Clevenger (Book 3)
Dr. Frank Clevenger, a brilliant forensic psychiatrist, is eager to leave the world of the criminally insane behind-until he receives a chilling phone call. Close friend and former colleague North Anderson, now the Chief of Police on the exclusive island of Nantucket, is desperate for help in solving a shocking case: One of the infant twin daughters of billionaire Darwin Bishop has been murdered in her crib at the family's estate. The suspected killer is her adopted brother Billy, and investigators believe that the fugitive teenager has targeted the surviving twin.

But as Clevenger maps the Bishop family's psychological layers he uncovers some disturbing revelations that lead him to believe Billy may be innocent. The Bishops are a deeply troubled family. As charming as he is ambitious and cruel, Darwin seems determined to protect his son-but is he actually trying to railroad him? Why does Garret, Bishop's other son, despise his father so intensely? Is beautiful Julia Bishop a mother grieving for her murdered child or a manipulative seductress with a dark secret to hide?

As Clevenger fights to protect the innocent and hunt down the guilty, aspects of the case begin to collide with demons from his own past. After a life-threatening attack the forensic psychiatrist knows he must penetrate the killer's psychosis in order to identify him before the Bishop family-and Clevenger himself-become the next victims. Using his mastery of psychiatry, Clevenger lays a trap to reveal the murderer in an unforgettable finale.

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From Amazon

Billy Bishop, the Russian-born adopted son of a billionaire, has all the classic signs of a sociopath, but before he's arrested for the murder of Darwin and Julia Bishop's infant daughter, his half sister, Nantucket police chief North Anderson wants another opinion. Frank Clevenger, the forensic psychiatrist evaluating Billy, isn't convinced of the teenager's guilt, especially when he learns that Darwin has been abusing Billy for years. The victim of his own father's abuse, Frank has difficulty maintaining appropriate emotional boundaries in his dealings with the Bishops--not just with Billy, but also with Julia, who becomes his lover. All the loose ends in this tidy little psychological thriller are tied up a bit too neatly, and the denouement comes as no surprise to anyone except perhaps Frank himself, who's a little too quick to abandon his professional objectivity. Keith Ablow, a forensic psychiatrist like his protagonist, has used his medical background before (Denial, Projection), but in his effort to make the defenses and motivations of the characters in this novel completely comprehensible to his readers, he sacrifices its subtlety and diminishes its suspense. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Battle-scarred Boston forensic psychiatrist Frank Clevenger is reluctantly drawn into the Nantucket murder case of five-month-old twin Brooke Bishop in this brainy psychological thriller. All evidence points to the younger of the victim's two adopted Russian-born brothers, 16-year-old problem child Billy. The boy's father, Darwin Bishop, a wealthy entrepreneur from Brooklyn, promptly sends Billy off to the psych ward at Manhattan's Payne Whitney to keep him under observation. But Clevenger's old inner-city cop buddy, North Anderson, now the Nantucket chief of police, thinks Billy was set up by the real killer and fears for the surviving twin. Clevenger heads to the island, but the pressures of the case retrigger his old alcohol problem, which is complicated by his instant lust for Bishop's ex-model wife, Julia. Billy escapes the psych ward, and there is a murder attempt on the other twin, but it is far from clear that Billy is the culprit. Meanwhile, Darwin has Clevenger followed by goons in vans, gets North kicked off the case and pushes Billy into jail without getting him a good trial lawyer. Unsettling phone calls from Billy; a pretty nanny's pricey jewel; old court records; clues from Billy's older brother, Garrett; a dark secret of North's; and assaults on Clevenger and Julia send Clevenger down a twisted trail to a whammy of a double surprise ending the reader won't see coming. Action nimbly shifts from gritty urban Boston to window-dressed Nantucket, and the people and politics are realistically portrayed, including the ballsy but deeply flawed protagonist. Not as bloody as Ablow's first outings (Denial; Projection), this one scores as a great psychological mind-bender.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A COMPELLING READ June 9 2004
Ablow's newest tale is his best yet. The author doesn't use his background in forensic psychiatry to bore you with complicated medical terms but instead allows the reader more of a layman's perspective on some of society's neuroses. As I glided through Ablow's prose and provocative storytelling, I was twice legitimately surprised by the turns this mystery takes. This is a top-notch read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read June 2 2004
By L. Dunn
This is the first book I have read by this author. If you like the medical thriller genre, then you should pick up this book.
The main character is a psychiatrist with his share of flaws. The mystery itself was not all that great, but the writing style is very enjoyable, and you find yourself wanting to read more by Keith Ablow. Already, I have started reading Psychopath and look forward to reading all of them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Clevanger meets Nantucket gothic... May 4 2004
"Compulsion" is another great book by Ablow. Set a few years after "Projection", Dr. Clevanger is out of doing forensic psyichiatry due to the events at the end of "Projection". His friend, North Anderson, calls him to for help on a infant murder case on Nantucket. The adopted son of a mogul is the prime suspect, and it is up to Dr. Clevanger to asset if he is really the guilty one. Major twists and turns about. The Bishop family in the book, are for the most part, flat. Both Darwin and Julia have few redeeming qualities, and you feel badly for the adopted children, Garrett and Billy. The end was great, as Dr. Clevanger moves into a new role. You will be surprised at who the killer really is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ablow's third is a winner Jan. 15 2004
Ablow's last novel PROJECTION turned me off so much I didn't want to read any more of his books, but I gave this a try anyway, and I'm glad I did. This is a first-rate psychological thriller with hardly a false note in the entire book. Though the murder of a child within the confines of a troubled household may not be the most original plotline, Ablow's keen psychological insight guides you masterfully through the twists and turns of a deeply disturbed family, springing surprises just when you thought you had everything figured out. Highly recommended.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Tries too hard Dec 1 2003
This book could have been shortened by at least 40 pages. It tries too hard to throw out red herrings and pushes suspects too vividly until the reader KNOWS they won't end up being the killer.
The main characters are ordinary except for the doctor who doesn't act accordingly and is entirely unprofessional to the point of being overdrawn.
You don't end up caring about any of the characters and when the book ends you are ready to go take your laundry out of the dryer.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A Psychological Mystery Nov. 10 2003
The book starts out with the classical mystery scenario where someone has been murdered, in this case a baby, one of twins. The murderer could have been any one of 5 people who were in the house at the time. The prime suspect is Billy, an adopted son of the baby's father. Billy is such a likely suspect because he has long shown signs of a tendency towards pathological behaviour. For this reason, Dr Frank Clevenger is asked to come and talk to Billy to give his opinion on whether he thought it probable that Billy was the killer.
While he is at the house of the murdered baby, Clevenger talks with the other family members and quickly decides that the prime suspect isn't the only one with the psychological profile of a killer. Added to the list are: the billionaire businessman, head of the family and overly dominant father figure; the beautiful younger (2nd-) wife, mother of the dead baby with a history of depression; the eldest son, also adopted and driven hard to strive for high achievement by his father; and finally, the pretty nanny who seems to be the primary caregiver to more than just the babies.
So Clevenger has to dig through the minds of the family members to work out whether Billy is the murderer, as has been accused, or whether it was someone else and Billy is being brilliantly set up.
I didn't find this book quite as compelling as the first couple of books in the series, although the frailties of the human mind are laid bare in fascinating detail. Certainly, one of the strongest aspects of the series is the substantial character descriptions and development. The past of Frank Clevenger continues to be revealed and just when I thought I knew all about him, a little more of his shocking past is told.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Oct. 31 2003
Once again, I have found a great author but read his latest, Psychopath first.. which left no secrets in Compulsion. Dr. Frank Clevenger, a psychiatrist is back in this fast paced, chilling book. Clevenger has had enough of dealing with the criminally insane and is just about to call it quits until he recieves a call. North Anderson, a friend and former colleague, needs Clevenger's help. A young daughter of billionaire Darwin Bishop has been murdered in her crib. The main suspect is her adopted brother Billy Bishop. As soon as Clevenger begins his work, he discovers that Billy may infact be innocent. The killer could be Darwin Bishop himself, or perhaps Julia, his socialite wife. Then there is Darwin Bishop's other son, Garret, a top student and star athlete who despises his father for reasons he refuses to reveal. The deeper Clevenger delves into the Bishop family, the more his own emotional demons surface.
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