Casey Dorman is back in his wheelhouse with The Oedipus Murders. Dorman is to psychological mysteries what John Grisham is to legal thrillers, and he is nearly as prolific. The book will be released by Amazon in September. In the meantime, you can preorder at Amazon.com.
Orange County, California, is the setting for The Oedipus Murders. Dorman describes the setting and his characters with impeccable detail. Dr. George Farquhar is a practitioner of Freudian psychotherapy. After a twenty-year lapse, he is once again experiencing fugue states—periods of cognitive dissociation, lasting minutes or hours—in which he cannot recall where he’s been or what he’s done. He takes on a patient, Lucas Bonaventure, seeking help under suspicious circumstances. Bonaventure’s wife Regina has gone missing and is found murdered. Farquhar discovers her body on his own property.
George and Lucas both emerge as suspects. Is Lucas seeing Dr. Farquhar to establish a diminished capacity defense? Or, did Farquhar murder Regina Bonaventure during a fugue state? The story unfolds through the eyes of several well-crafted characters: veteran detective Abe Reynolds; Susan Lin, a young psychologist assisting the police; and Ben Murphy, a legendary retired police chief from Santa Barbara.
One of my favorites is Madeline, George's wife, whom I think of simply as The Emasculator. Madeline contributes some of the sharpest dialog in the book. For example, George discusses writing a paper analyzing Lucas Bonaventure's psychosis. Madeline replies:
"Write a paper? Nobody would read it but your group of deluded colleagues in the Analytic Institute. You're practicing in the dark ages, you and the rest of your Analytic Society. I still can't believe people pay you for doing this stuff."
"...If there was ever proof that your method doesn't work, you're it. You play all day at being a doctor, and then you come home and carry on juvenile, competitive conversations with me."
Dorman keeps us guessing until the final chapters as George’s anxiety overwhelms him. The Oedipus Murders is well-paced, tightly crafted, and grounded by Dorman’s long career as a psychologist. I’m a big fan of Casey Dorman and this is one of his best.