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Thriller set in GERMANY and a NORTH SEA ISLAND (a psychological suspense story)

20th January 2014

Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek: thriller set in Germany and the North Sea.

0857897071.01.ZTZZZZZZA short novel that packs a punch. Viktor’s daughter Josy has been ill for quite some time and he brings her to be examined by yet another doctor. As the book opens he is beside himself because she has simply disappeared from the doctor’s consulting room. There is no body to mourn and no real clue to her disappearance.

Fast forward 4 years and he is in his holiday home on the fictional island of Parkum in the North Sea where he is trying to deal with her disappearance. Clearly he is still struggling.

The arrival of Anna Glass at his isolated home stirs up his latent professional leanings (he was practising as a psychiatrist before Josy disappeared), yet he is simultaneously unsettled. She seems to have access to every area of his life, both physically and psychologically and insinuates herself into his very core and consciousness. The more he has contact with her, the more any physical contact with the mainland is cut; and the more he seems to lose connection with reality. Or does he?

Ultimately there is the dawning realisation that much of the storyline is a fractured thought process, with paranoia, projection of motive from one character to another, schizophrenia, and hallucination. Is it Viktor’s stream of consciousness that is becoming more and more muddled as he frantically tries to find out what really happened to his daughter? Or is it Anna’s unstable mental state that is gradually clawing its way into Viktor’s subconscious? As Viktor gets in deeper with Anna and begins the process of therapy with her, he believes he is gaining clarity that it is not for her benefit, but for his. And that is sacrilege in the patient/therapist relationship, but his need to find out what happened to Josy overrides everything, right to the last chapter. He believes Anna has the key to her disappearance.

The cover is a terrific representation of content. The bleak sea and grey skies envelop the title, they serve to inspire foreboding, and provide an ominous setting for potentially ominous events.The title is in smeared red blood and there is a tiny child’s hand and face, blurred behind frosted glass – Josy’s presence is there but only vaguely intimated. The grey, churning environment mirrors the psychological ferment that underpins the storyline.

The setting for this novel per se is confined to Schwanenwerder and Berlin, and in the main to the fictional island of Parkum (we wonder whether it is based on Borkum) out in the German area of the North Sea. It is a credit to the author that he can conjure up the weight of the elements, and the isolation of this small island in the angry sea. He writes a story that twists and turns, although at times it is, to be frank, quite preposterous and repetitive, yet nevertheless manages to keep the momentum going. The translation by Sally-Ann Spencer, although on occasion quite americanised, is good (you can read our rants about the lacklustre and inaccurate translation of another novel, also as it happens, set in Germany here).

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