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Wednesday 25 October 2023

‘An Imperfect Truth’ by Priscilla Masters

Published by Severn House,
3 October 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-4483-1189-7 (HB)

Claire Roget is a forensic psychiatrist, which means she is accustomed to dealing with difficult and sometimes tragic cases. There are some cases where Claire can hope to make a long-term difference, such as with a young mother, Dana, who is suffering from post-natal psychosis and has rejected her newborn baby. In many other cases all Claire can do is work towards moderating behaviour that is destructive to both the patient and to those who come into contact with them.

When Claire hears on the radio that a woman called Patricia Kelloway has been brutally hacked to death in her own home, the name means nothing to her because she had forgotten that she had a patient called Patricia who had unofficially changed her name to Poppy. Poppy Kelloway had been referred to Claire because her GP thought she had personality disorder. In Poppy’s case this manifested itself in incessant lying, telling stories with such conviction that even the most outrageous ones were often believed and enjoying the subsequent excitement and sense of power. For Poppy, her lies were a game, and she didn’t even attempt to make them consistent. When she was challenged, she just laughed it off and had no concern that often her actions had destructive consequences for her victims. The most serious of these consequences were when an unfortunate and innocent young man committed suicide after she falsely accused him of sexual assault. The young man’s sister is still understandably angry and bitter with Poppy and, by extension, the psychiatric service which failed to control Poppy’s actions.

Poppy is divorced and has three teenage children whom she has separated from their father by telling them he has no desire to see them and has never provided for them, both of which statements are totally untrue. Apart from her children, the only person Poppy has not alienated is her mother, possibly because Poppy needs her support. Her mother is very attached to her grandchildren and determined to stay as a central part of their lives. The evening that Poppy was murdered was unusual because the three children were all out and it seems that Poppy had orchestrated this. When the two boys came home, they discovered their mother’s body.

Poppy has damaged many people by her lies and the police need to investigate them all. Unfortunately, several of them are Claire’s patients, whom Poppy encountered when attending her psychiatrist appointments. Claire has to balance her duty of care to her patients with her duty to help the police catch a brutal killer in a situation where it is almost impossible to sort out truth from lies. As her patients react to the police investigation, it seems that Poppy’s malign influence lasts even after her death.

Claire’s personal life is also causing her concern. As well as the uncertainty of her relationship with her on-off boyfriend, Grant, Claire is dreading her young half-brother’s imminent wedding, which means that Claire will be subjected to her mother’s despising indifference. Claire’s father had abandoned them when she was a baby, and her mother has always disliked her and in recent years has practically ignored her. Claire finds distressing parallels between her patient with post-natal psychosis and Claire’s relationship with her own mother but sees little hope of mending her own parental relationship at this late stage. If Grant is not available as her plus-one, Claire knows the imminent wedding will be even more of an ordeal.

An Imperfect Truth is the fourth book in the series featuring Claire Roget. It is an excellent book with engaging characters, including a protagonist who is flawed but likeable and is determined to do her best for her numerous patients. The plot is fascinating, with several clever psychological insights that weave together many strands of the story to create a convincing narrative.

This is a series that gets stronger all the time and An Imperfect Truth is a superb addition to it. This is a page-turner that I strongly recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

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.  Although that series is still continuing the latest Crooked Street published 2016, she has also written several medical standalones and a new series featuring coroner Martha Gunn, set in Shrewsbury. Her latest book is An Imperfect Truth, a psychological thriller featuring Dr Claire Roget who is a forensic psychiatrist who has some very unpredictable patients. It is set in Stoke on Trent.

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
The Curse of the Concrete Griffin

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