William Deverell Mind Games

ISBN 13: 9780771026799

Mind Games

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9780771026799: Mind Games
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Award-winner William Deverell proves that when you mess with a psychiatrists mind, anything can happen

Psychiatrist Dr. Tim Dare’s life is falling apart: his wife has just left him, he’s being hauled before a disciplinary committee, and now someone’s threatening to kill him

In his gripping new novel, Mind Games, William Deverell returns to the intriguing territory of the law and lawyers and of human psychology and motivation, and he does so in familiar Deverell surroundings: the streets, courtrooms, and waters of Vancouver.

Dr. Tim Dare is a forensic psychiatrist whose life is in a mess: his wife has just left him to find herself; his mother is being sued for libel by a small-town mayor over a mystery novel; he’s been made the monitor of a man just out of psychiatric hospital, a man he considers a psychopathic murderer; he’s being hauled before a disciplinary committee for “misplacing” a file; one of his patients is “transferring” feelings to him rather too romantically; and now someone’s threatening to kill him. He can’t even get into an elevator without falling apart. No wonder he thinks he needs to see a shrink himself. Under the guidance of fellow psychiatrist Dr. Allison Epstein, Dare gradually learns how to face the demons within – and those in the real world that are really out to get him.
From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author:

William Deverell’s first novel, Needles, won the $50,000 Seal Award, and, since then, he has published one work of non-fiction, Fatal Cruise, and ten further novels, including Trial of Passion, winner of the Hammett Prize for literary excellence in crime writing and Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for Best Crime Novel. Deverell created the popular CBC Television series Street Legal and recreated its characters in a novel by that title. He is a founding member and past-president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, a member of PEN Canada, the Screen Writers Guild, and has twice been chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada. He winters in Costa Rica and spends his summers on Pender Island in B.C.
From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Ah, Allis, what a piece of work you have before you. As you led me from your consulting room to confront the dreaded elevator, I saw you woefully shake your head. How, you were wondering, can you expect to repair this tattered psyche in the weekly hour allotted to me?

I’m sorry that we ran out of time today, your patient having wasted much of it with his fiddling and farting. I should have known better than to try to grasp the reins of therapy. I felt you were less interested in an everyday bargain-basement marriage breakdown than by the grim portents of murder, and I needed desperately to talk about Sally, my grief, my suppressed anger, I wanted pity and solace.

This evening, even as my mind replays today’s awkward session, do you sit with Richard at the dinner table, entertaining him with my persecutory delusions? “He claims someone wants to kill him?” “Yes, dear, and I can understand why.”

When you asked me to take the lead, to waltz you down the byways of memory, I was briefly lost. Where to begin? Was I to pick up the thread a year ago, when disintegration began? A decade ago, when there were youth and hope? A lifetime ago, before the patterning of childhood warped the bell curve of normality into the shape of a burned-out light bulb? How to begin my unburdening, how to describe the clutter of neurotransmitters and synapses, hormones and hemostats, that comprise Timothy Jason Dare?

Sorry I emoted so much. I’ve cooled off. A couple of beers, some soothing jazz... (Picture this skinny geek in his undershorts aboard his old sailboat tooting mournfully on a clarinet. Dispossessed of home, that’s where I live now, my classic wooden cutter, the Altered Ego.)

Anyway, having botched today’s first session, let me whip my thoughts into line, reassemble them in more coherent fashion, to prepare for our next session. (By the way, Friday afternoons are fine, I’m rarely in court then, and I’ll be able to use weekends to recover from whatever catharses come my way.)

To put my fears in perspective and to set the stage for what follows, let’s go back six years ago to a scene so graphic that my mother, if she cared to lift it for one of her books, might be forced to tone it down. (We haven’t got around to Victoria Dare, who, having published a horror novel, has been sued for libel by an overly sensitive small-town politician who saw himself portrayed as the killer. The trial is only a couple of weeks away. An added stressor.)

We are in Dr. Barbara Loews Wiseman’s consulting room. She is staring at a raised dagger, desperately pleading, trying to persuade Bob Grundison that God has not ordered him to kill her, that she isn’t Satan in the guise of a psychiatrist. Imagine the dagger descending, thrusting . . .

The image is fixed? Now let’s fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago – this was just before Sally cut me adrift – to a hearing to determine whether this killer might be released by Order-in-Council onto the already treacherous streets of Vancouver.

The inquiry was at the provincial mental hospital, Riverview. Usually I enjoy my trips there, my ambles about the grounds with patients. But this promised to be a strenuous day of listening to the Grundison family’s hired psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers: I was on a panel struck by the provincial cabinet – they were tossing us the buck; if Grundison were to celebrate his freedom with a psychotic rampage, they would blame the experts.

I arrived slightly frazzled from the long traffic-jammed taxi ride to Riverview, and before we convened I apologized to all – though I was only fifteen minutes late. The panel consisted of me, Dr. Irwin Connelly, and Dr. Harriet Loussier, the hospital’s chief psychologist. A pair of lawyers for the Grundison family was present, along with several medical experts (one of them my nemesis, Dr. Herman Schulter) and a clutch of supporters and relatives there to bear witness to their love of Bob Grundison. He’d been excused from the room – we wanted to speak frankly about him.

Also present were his parents. Robert Grundison Sr. is a staunch pillar of capitalism, owns several tall buildings, shopping centres, a hockey team. But he’s highly regarded: a philanthropist who gives handsomely to Christian charities. His confident body language, even as he sat, expressed power and control. In contrast, his pink-complexioned wife, Thelma, exuded an odd serenity – though with the glassy-eyed aspect of a lush. Sitting next to them was the Honourable Ephriam Wright, an Alberta cabinet minister and evangelical pastor with the unusual reputation, given those careers, of brightness.

The day dragged on. The experts (three of whom, including Schulter, had testified at his trial) concurred: as an adolescent, Grundison had suffered occasional delusions (talking to God, chiefly, though the evidence was vague and came mainly from members of his church), then was revisited by his disease six years ago, when he was twenty-one. Now, Grundison was not only stabilized but cured.

Much was made by Herman Schulter (the clubby, deferential chair of my discipline committee – would he yank my practising certificate if I denied freedom to a killer?) of Grundison having resolved “aggressive behaviour patterns” by channelling his energy into sports. Grundy, as he’s often called, had formed a couple of leagues while at Riverview, basketball and softball. Schulter’s view was that this showed enterprise, leadership.

I listened to such confident prognoses with growing discomfort. I was on this panel because I had a history with Grundison. Six years ago, new in practice, puffed with arrogance (behold the youngest winner of the B.F. Skinner Prize at Stanford), I was the only witness the Crown could find who dared to claim Grundy was faking schizophrenia.

Grundison was arrested several minutes after leaving Barbara Wiseman’s office, wandering around Broadway and Cambie, ostensibly in a daze. Schulter, who was rushed to the cells to interview him, testified that his affect was flat and shallow, a vacant stare, face muscles flaccid, eyes lifeless, toneless, his memory train not intact.

I interviewed Grundy at length, gave him tests. Not psychotic but psychopathic, I concluded, a cold-hearted killer.

So now I was in a conundrum. I’ve never believed (nor, I suspect, did Barbara Loews Wiseman) that Bob Grundison was delusional, but the rest of the world seemed to believe that – who was some long-haired, wild-eyed forensic psychiatrist to disagree? And how could I argue he was insane now, and required continued treatment? However psychopathic, he was mentally competent by the definition of the law. He cannot be tried again for murder, yet he’s a murderer.
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