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Tuesday 19 April 2022

‘A Plea of Insanity’ by Priscilla Masters

Published by Allison & Busby,
th January 2005.
ISBN: 0-74908-337-9

From the first day at her new post of clinical psychiatrist at Greatbach Secure Psychiatric Unit at Stoke-on-Trent, Doctor Claire Roget is unnerved - for she is occupying the same office as her predecessor Heidi Faro, who was brutally murdered there just six months previously.  But Heidi’s killer, former inmate Stefan Giulio, is now locked away in Broadmoor.

Establishing a regular Monday meeting Claire gets to know her colleagues and bring herself up to speed with her caseload. She begins to feel unnerved by one of the outpatients, Jerome Barclay, who has a severe personality disorder, and who obliquely taunts her about Heidi’s murder. Disturbed, she decides to confide her fears to her colleagues Rolf Fairweather and Kristyna. Then Kristyna disappears and Claire begins to question whether Heidi’s killer is really behind bars.

When I picked this book up, I was expecting either a DI Joanna Piercy book or a second adventure with Coroner Martha Gunn; what I got was a psychological thriller. This is described on the book jacket as ‘a taut and chilling tale of murder’, and I go along with that. Chilling being the operative word. This is one of those books that every so often you look up and around the room to confirm to yourself that you are safe!  A brilliant, but scary look at mental illness.  Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes 

Priscilla Masters was born in Halifax, and brought up in South Wales, one of seven multi-racial children adopted by an orthopaedic surgeon and his Classics graduate wife. Priscilla trained as a registered nurse in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. She moved to Staffordshire in the 1970s, had an antiques business for a while and two sons. She started writing in the 1980s in response to an aunt asking her what she was going to do with her life! Winding up the Serpent was her first Joanna Piercy story, published in 1995.  There are now fifteen books in the series. She has also written several medical standalones and a series set in Shrewsbury, featuring coroner Martha Gunn. Her most recent series features Dr Claire Roget who is a forensic psychiatrist who has some very unpredictable patients.

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