Thursday, July 7, 2011

Book Review: Turn of Mind by Alice LaPLante

Turn of Mind, a debut novel from author Alice LaPlante, is not your ordinary literary mystery.  Jennifer White is a retired surgeon suffering from dementia, who also happens to be the chief suspect in the murder (and minor mutilation) of her best friend and neighbor, Amanda.  But how on earth can this crime be solved when the prime suspect cannot even remember her own children from day to day?  Or when Jennifer is brokenhearted anew to learn of Amanda's death each time the detective comes by to speak with her?  Jennifer's mind has good days and bad days, sometimes good hours and bad hours within the same day, and for the longest time it seems as if the mystery will go wholly unsolved, with Jennifer herself unsure of what happened on the day her friend was last seen alive.

This book is an extraordinary and gripping look into a once-sharp mind as it descends towards the terrifying alienation and the inaccessible abyss of memory that circumscribe dementia. Avowed mystery readers may see the end coming, but I myself did not.  Despite the mutilation (Amanda's body is found with a few fingers severed, post mortem), this is not a gory or graphic book at all, and I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good mystery or a good book about a complicated, brilliant, but not always likable woman who somehow is able to keep her head even while she loses her mind.

This book is published by Atlantic Monthly and it happens to be the #1 pick for the month of July, voted on by Indie Booksellers nationwide!

~Emily Crowe

1 comment:

France said...

A unique account given from the perspective of an unreliable narrator due to the degenerative nature of Alzheimer 's disease. The story is not just about the disease, and the riveting moments of clarity are far more disturbing than the symptoms of the disease. The author gives no clues as far as the mystery element of the story is concerned. Not only is the reader plunged into the psychological trauma of this dysfunctional family, but every character in this book is far from innocent.