Eight months ago Jeff Resnick was an unemployed insurance investigator who had spent a night out with his friends when he was bushwhacked by a couple of muggers who broke his head, his arm, concussed him, and stole what few things of value that had after ransacking his apartment. Waking up in the hospital, his estranged, and rich physician half-brother Richard Alpert has appeared, and takes him back to the old family home in Buffalo where Richard was living in a strained relationship with his lover Brenda.
Brenda won't marry Richard because her relatives won't approve of a mixed marriage, but taking care of Jeff and getting involved with his problems has caused the two to heal their problems and they finally marry. Now in this fourth novel, Jeff and Richard have come to an understanding about Jeff unpredictable psychic powers, and Richard asks Jeff to look into the disappearance of four-year-old Eric Devlin because Eric's mother is Richard's patient.
It's on this case that Jeff meets the self-serving, ambitious, and amoral psychiatrist Krista Marsh. Marsh is fascinated by Jeff's abilities and offers to help him with his continuing problems with migraines if he helps her with a particular problem patient.
It seems that the broken Grace Vanderstein has been molested and raped throughout her lifetime, and she is also now permanently wheelchair bound after a drunk has caused a car accident which has also killed her rich and influential father. Grace is suffering from depression, self-loathing, and a vitriolic hatred for everything so palpable that it hits Jeff like a hammer blow when he first meets her.
Unfortunately, Marsh is not trustworthy. During his first session to help with his migraines, he is doped and he loses a large stretch of time out of his life. He also finds that his mental attitude is starting to change during his continuing sessions. Where he had been healing the acrimonious rift between himself and his brother over the last couple of novels, he finds himself backsliding and withdrawing from his new-found family, and into a suicidal depression.
It isn't helping that he keeps losing time whenever he has a session with Marsh, he's turning up with needle marks, and that Grace seems to be becoming worse, not better with each consecutive session.
This is the first of the four novels that will be told from something other that Jeff's first person viewpoint. And while Jeff keeps that viewpoint, Richard's part in this complicated novel will told from the third person. And in "Bound By Suggestion" Richard is finding, again, that being a practicing physician is overwhelming him, as it did when he lived out-of-state before coming back to Buffalo in the first novel in this series. He is simply unfit for hands-on medical practicing, being unable to put enough distance between himself and his patients. This coupled with Brenda's miscarriage and near murder in "Cheated By Death", and her new pregnancy in this novel, has all done him no good. Now, despite being a volunteer at the University of Buffalo School of Medicine he finds himself up for the position of campaign chair, and his boss is actively stumping for him. Unfortunately, this brings him back into conflict with an old nemesis, the obnoxious, pretentious, and arrogant pr*ck Dr. Wes Timberly, a man who never forgets a wrong, real or imagined, and never forgives, and who wants the same position.
Timberly obliquely threatens Richard, and Richard is warned by those around him that things happen to those that get in Timberly's way.
This new position is causing a rift in Richard's marriage, and he's becoming jealous of Brenda's motherly instincts toward the rapidly deteriorating Jeff. Piled onto this is once Jeff accidently called his girlfriend Maggie Brennan his dead wife's name once during sex. This put a dampener on their relationship and she is now dating and sleeping with her old boyfriend.
Then as Jeff becomes more and depressed, he now lacks anybody to turn to as Richard becomes more and more wrapped up in getting his new position while neglecting his family.
And then the dying begins.
Again, like "Cheated By Death", this is a book that benefits from being self-published as Bartlett deals with some very sensationalist materials, while not doing so in a sensationalistly commercial manner. Bartlett concentrates mostly on solid, and intricate plot-building and in creating even more dimensions to Richard and Jeff and their relationship. With this novel, Brenda becomes more than just a fulcrum on which the plot swings back and forth between the two brothers. It becomes obvious that she is the glue that keeps both brothers from falling apart. This is also a novel that benefits from having two excellent villains. Marsh and Timberly is as vicious a pair of snakes as one could hope for in a novel like this.
On the negative side, Jeff's suffering in these novels is almost biblical, as he seems to fated to suffer as Job suffered. I was also less than thrilled with the treatment of Maggie. Four novels, and Barrett has yet to figure out what to do with her character. The same can be said of Sophie Levin. The mystery of her character was solved in the last novel and so Bartlett only gives Jeff's psychic mentor a token appearance, an appearance that almost stinks of being a deus ex machine. Still, there are hints here that maybe, just maybe, Jeff's powers just might be hereditary, and that they might be latently resting in Richard.
With any luck, in the next novel, if there is a next novel, Ms. Barrett will develop Maggie more, heal the rift between her and Jeff, and put them both on the path towards (a more) stable partnership, while having more interesting adventures. I'd even like a Brenda and Maggie team-up novel.
Oh yes, If you read horror on a regular basis you know that the practitioners of evil in H. P. Lovecraft's fiction were often cast with the name Marsh, so, was Krista Marsh an oblique Lovecraftian reference?
For this site I have also reviewed the following Jeff Resnick books:
Another great book in the Resnick Mystery series. would definitely recommend. Great story with all of the action and fast paced thrill of previous Resnick titles. I hope there's another one to follow this! I read a lot and have really enjoyed this series.
I cannot praise these books enough, read them slightly out of order, but that meant I could go back and read them again in order, not too much repetition about how the state of play is, and the plots are very good
Another good read in this series.Story was easy to follow.Good to know that Brenda finally was going to have her baby,and all ended well without any of the characters getting killed off.Onto the next book.
I started reading this series a week or so ago and I've found myself addicted to them. Can' t put them down once I've started and when I've finished I can't wait to read the next one! A brilliant read.