Tuesday, 6 September 2016

A Deadly Affection

Author: Cuyler Overholt
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Type: ebook
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: SourceBooks Landmark
First Published: September 6, 2016
First Line: "The first Sunday of 1907 was so bitterly cold that icicles were hanging from the watering trough spouts in front of Mr. Fuller's house, and the sanitation men had resorted to chipping, rather than scooping, the manure from the street."

Book Description from GoodReadsIn 1907 New York, a psychiatrist must prove her patient's innocence...or risk being implicated in a shocking murder

As one of the first women practicing in an advanced new field of psychology, Dr. Genevieve Summerford is used to forging her own path. But when one of her patients is arrested for murder-a murder Genevieve fears she may have unwittingly provoked-she is forced to seek help from an old acquaintance.

Desperate to clear her patient's name and relieve her own guilty conscience, Genevieve finds herself breaking all the rules she's tried so hard to live by. In her search for answers, Genevieve uncovers an astonishing secret that, should she reveal it, could spell disaster for those she cares about most. But if she lets her discovery remain hidden, she will almost certainly condemn her patient to the electric chair.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review: I'm always game for a great historical fiction mystery so I was eager to read author Cuyler Overholt's debut novel set in early 1900's New York City.  The story follows a young female psychologist, Miss Genevieve Summerford, as she tries to prove the innocence of one of her patients following a brutal murder.  

NYC in 1907 is brought to life with vivid detail which includes the conflict between the social classes and the restrictions placed on women, especially within the field of medicine.  As a female in medicine and with sexism being the norm, Genna has an uphill battle to gain recognition from her colleagues and the general population in the relatively new discipline of psychology.  But Genna is a force to be reckoned with - she's smart, spunky, stubborn and has her patients' best interests at heart.  She is compelled to help other women overcome their issues after having suffered a great tragedy early in her own life.

Overholt has written a fairly intricate mystery and left the door open for many characters to be the culprit.  Red herrings abound and while I can say that I predicted the ending I have to admit that along the way I predicted several other characters to be the villain so perhaps I'm not quite the sleuth I thought I was.

Along with a great, twisty mystery there is also some occasional humour, some familial turmoil and wee bit of romance.  I liked that there was some history and chemistry between Genevieve and another character as well as conflict between Genna and her father but that the focus firmly remained on the mystery.  

I only have two wee criticisms.  First, while the various plots all have their own sense of conclusion some of the issues felt like they were too easily remedied.  And secondly, while I have a Psych degree I admit that sometimes when the focus was on psychological aspects the story line got a little too heavy and slowed down the pace of the book.  While I was mainly interested in this book for the mystery I also quite enjoyed seeing the beginnings of the group therapy dynamics and how psychology was portrayed in that era. 

With a dash of humour, multiple red herrings and a spunky and smart young psychologist with a penchant for standing up for the underdog this was an impressive debut.  Yes, I enjoyed this historical mystery very much.

Favourite Quotes
"You can't keep someone completely safe," I said.  
"You only keep them from living if you try."

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to SourceBooks Landmark and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary ebook copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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