Compulsion: A Novel Hardcover – Jul 22 2002
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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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
In this one, he agrees to help an old friend in a murder case of a three month old twin, and hopefully prevent the murder of her sibling. Frank falls much too quickly in love with Julia Bishop, the mistress of the household whose child was cruelly murdered. As the novel moves along, we have several choices for the villian, and by the end of the novel, it turned out to be exactly who I thought. (Maybe I'm just getting brilliant?) Ha ha. Anyway, this is a spellbinding novel, and The Bishops have to be one of the most dysfunctional families since Eugene O'Neill. I think you'll be "compelled" to read this one.
Clevenger is reluctant to commit himself to another forensic case, since he is still recovering from some terrible experiences that have scarred his psyche. However, North draws him into the web of intrigue surrounding the Bishop family, and Clevenger becomes involved on many levels with the Bishop family. Besides Darwin and the twin daughters, the Bishop family includes Julia, Darwin's gorgeous and seductive wife, and their two adopted teenaged sons, overachieving Garrett and Billy, a budding psychopath with a history of violence.
Everything about "Compulsion" is extremely intense. It is a deeply psychosexual book which delves into the dark forces that make people do the unthinkable. Clevenger doesn't act like a psychiatrist much of the time. He crosses over the line into professional misconduct more than once. Clevenger is a deeply flawed and troubled character. He is an example of someone who becomes a psychiatrist because he wants to help himself and others who have suffered deep emotional traumas.
As a thriller, "Compulsion" is fairly predictable. Ablow throws out red herrings galore, there is a fair amount of sex and violence, and the ending has a "twist," which has become almost compulsory these days.Read more ›
When Brooke unexpectedly dies, Darwin immediately thinks that his son murdered his sister. Nantucket police officer North Anderson isn't convinced that Billy is guilty and brings forensic psychologist Dr. Frank Clevenger on the case. Frank believes that everyone that was in the house except for baby Tess is a likely suspect and he risks his own life to uncover the truth.
The moment one starts reading this fascinating crime thriller one is compelled to finish it in one sitting. Like the protagonist, readers will find it hard, if not impossible, to figure out who killed the infant because all the suspects have motives, meaning and opportunity. Keith Ablow is a gifted storyteller who ha written an exceptional tale.
Most recent customer reviews
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... Read morePublished on June 9 2004 by Kay Blythe
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. Read morePublished on June 2 2004 by L. Dunn
"Compulsion" is another great book by Ablow. Set a few years after "Projection", Dr. Read morePublished on May 4 2004 by Peter LaPrade
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. Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2004 by David Group
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... Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2003 by Sandra Trolinger
Once again, I have found a great author but read his latest, Psychopath first.. which left no secrets in Compulsion. Dr. Read morePublished on Oct. 31 2003 by A. Vegan
I'm not really good at summarizing stories, but I have to say, Keith Ablow has totally blown me away with the forensic psychologist Frank Clevenger books! Read morePublished on Aug. 31 2003
I think the main character-Frank- needs more therapy. His issues distracted from the story to such an extent that I couldn't get into the mystery. Read morePublished on July 1 2003 by Jenny
Frank Clevenger is a fantastic antihero, and Keith Ablow has created something special. A fantastic ride that is hard to step away from, following in the steps of Denial and... Read morePublished on June 22 2003 by Nathan Dowell