Every Fifteen Minutes, best-selling author Lisa Scottoline’s latest page-turner, effectively draws readers in at two levels, both as gripping psychological suspense and as a vivid look into the tangled realms of the heart. The strength of Scottoline’s new standalone lies in its clever combination of tight plotting and a cast of believable characters. The spoiler in the life of Dr. Eric Parrish comes in the form of a dangerous sociopath, whose careful and deadly plan turns the psychiatrist’s life into the stuff of nightmares.
Parrish heads up a well-known and successful psychiatric unit in a big city hospital. He’s in the midst of a divorce, badly misses his 7-year-old daughter and is on the verge of a battle for custody. On the other hand, his professional life is going gangbusters, he’s respected and liked by the hospital staff and not a few women seemed tuned in his direction.
But Eric’s fortunes change—and mighty quickly—when he unexpectedly finds himself charged with sexual harassment, an unfounded claim that throws his custody fight into doubt. Then his latest private patient, a troubled 17-year-old named Max, suddenly flies out of control, throwing into doubt Eric’s belief that the boy’s not a danger to the public. After Max’s girlfriend is found murdered and the boy disappears briefly, Eric finds his career in jeopardy when he tries to exonerate his patient.
It doesn’t take long for readers, if not Eric, to figure out that there’s an outside force at work. Someone is pulling strings, intent on destroying the personal and professional life Eric’s worked so hard to secure. Scottoline provides a chilling and in-depth look at the narcissistic obsessions that inhabit the damaged mind of the sociopath, and keeps readers in suspense about the identity of the wrongdoer until the last spine-chilling moment.
The author is at her most compelling when she catches Eric realizing that, for all his careful training on how to deal with crazy situations, he’s failed to understand that one deeply disturbed person has set out to upend his life permanently, nor is he prepared for his role as intended victim. Drab title aside, Every Fifteen Minutes is filled with characters that are much more than one-dimensional cardboard cutouts, with a plot that’s disturbingly plausible, thus turning a familiar story into one full of razor-sharp suspense.