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Tuesday 28 November 2023

‘The Psychologist’s Shadow’ by Laury A. Egan

Published by Enigma Books,
18 November 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-915905-20-8 (PB)

 “Dear Ellen, I’m waiting and watching for your signal.”

This intriguing psychological thriller opens in September 1992 as Dr. Ellen J. Haskell prepares to welcome the first clients to her new office in Princeton. 

Some sixth months earlier the psychologist had been working in Manhattan when one of her sessions ended in tragedy.  To recover from her physical and mental injuries, she moved to the Princeton home of her supportive parents, yet despite their encouragement and a period of therapy, Ellen still blames herself for what happened.  Nonetheless, she is now eager to return to her vocation.  A poet and writer herself, Ellen has a special interest with those who work in the creative arts, and she already has a list of clients seeking her help.

Just as her self-assurance begins to re-emerge, Ellen receives a series of abandoned and silent calls.  This dents her fragile confidence, a situation that worsens when she starts to receive written notes and unwanted “gifts.”  Ellen realises she is being stalked by an obsessive admirer and begins to wonder whether it could be one of her patients.  As her would-be lover’s behaviour becomes ever more bizarre, the psychologist decides she must find out and help the person whose fixation is making her life a misery.  Little does she know just how far her admirer is prepared to go to prove their devotion.

The writer creates a kaleidoscope of characters around Ellen any of whom might prove to be the psychologist’s deranged devotee.  The pursuer’s point of view is revealed through his or her journal entries.  Preceding each chapter, each entry is a constant reminder of Ellen’s predicament, even when things seem to be going well!  Giving voice to the stalker is unnerving but appropriate as Ellen follows her chosen profession.

Ellen’s experiences echo the stalking and murder of Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer in1989.  The author’s allusion to this real-life crime reminds the reader that the protagonist’s ordeal has been, and continues to be, a shocking reality for some people.  The book’s title also endows the tale with chilling authenticity when it references Carl Jung’s concept of “the shadow” within each human being.  He once described the “shadow” as “the thing a person has no wish to be.”  These factual allusions never distract from a spell-binding narrative that leads, and sometimes misleads, as it unfolds.  The novel is a wonderful combination of tension and compassion as Ellen tries to balance care for herself against care for her clients, this makes for a mesmerising read. 

The Psychologist’s Shadow blends the discordant perspectives of hunter and hunted into a gripping thriller.  Deliciously disorientating and highly enjoyable.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Laury A. Egan is the author of five crime fiction novels. She also writes, Fantasy, Gay Romance and general fiction.  Her work has appeared in over 85 literary journals and anthologies. The Psychologist's Shadow, is her most recent book published 2023.



Dot Marshall-Gent
worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction.  


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