The Session, by Judith Kellman

Monday, May 13, 2013


OK, I guess that's not really a review, though that is pretty much how I felt after finishing this mystery/thriller. The premise sounded promising.  P.J is a psychologist at Rikers Island women's prison.  During a "wedding" that she approved between two inmates, one of the "brides" was killed.  P.J. is blamed, and fired as a result.
She thinks that her biggest problem is making her rent, until she gets a call from one of her former patients at the prison, who is sure that she saw the victim's husband, a known batterer and sociopath, at the prison the day of the murder.  When P.J. can't get the police to act on the word of a schizophrenic inmate, she decides to investigate on her own.  Chaos ensues...blah blah blah.

Here's the deal.  P.J. as the narrator is self-deprecating and funny-or at least, Kellman tries really really hard to make her that way.  Too hard, in fact.  The one-liners and sarcastic rejoinders (both internal and between characters) felt forced to me.  And I didn't really buy the story.  As an Alex Delaware fan from way back, I'm willing to go with the "mental health professional turned investigator", but in this case I couldn't really figure out P.J.'s motivation for getting involved, nor did I really believe the path her investigation took.

There were some things that worked in this book's favor.  P.J.'s relationship with her extremely successful deaf sister was interesting, as was her complicated relationship with her ex-husband, who just happened to be (you've probably guessed already) a district attorney.  And there was a sub-plot involving P.J. and her brother Jack that was sort of interesting on its least, it was until it became completely predictable.  But Kellman did a decent job of doling out information in such a way that I kept reading until the (unsatisfying) end.  So, in the final analysis-not awful, not great.


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