Review: Psychiatrist Mark Angelotti has returned to work after a shattering illness that has left him legally blind. He is ready to take on new cases and finish up the old ones that he left hanging. But his superiors are not sure he is ready to face the issues that a doctor of psychiatry must deal with. Finally he is given an opportunity to take on a new patient, one who will test all his abilities in Dante's Wood, the first mystery in this series by Lynne Raimondo.
Charles Dickerson is a mentally handicapped teenager, whose wealthy parents are in disagreement as to how to treat their son. Judith, Charlie’s mother, relates that he is good natured and, of course, quite advanced in comparison to his peer group. His father, Nate, calls Charlie "retarded". Judith prefers the term "developmentally challenged". Mark learns Charlie has an IQ between 40 and 50, placing him is the moderate category of mental retardation, giving him the intelligence of a six to nine year old child. It is far from the mild disability that Judith claims but not near as bad as Nate makes out. To further complicate matters, Judith also claims that Charlie is a victim of sexual abuse by his art teacher at the day care center.
Mark accepts Charlie as a patient. But the treatment he prescribes for him turns deadly when Charlie's art teacher is found murdered and Charlie is found at her side with blood on his hands and clothes. He immediately confesses to killing her. Although Mark volunteers to testify on Charlie’s behalf, nothing turns out to be as it appears.
The characters at the core of this psychological thriller are very well drawn, from Mark Angelotti, who is learning to accept the restrictions imposed on him by his blindness, to Charlie, who has his own challenges but has enough self-awareness to known that he is the cause of, and at the center of, his parents' dispute about his course of treatment. Mark's often self-deprecating humor nicely balances the gravity of the crime and its aftermath. As the plot moves briskly forward, neither Mark nor the reader is quite prepared for the truth as it is revealed. Dante's Wood is a strong start to this series.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Dante's Wood.
Acknowledgment: Seventh Street Books provided a copy of Dante's Wood for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in Dante's Wood: Chicago, Illinois
— ♦ —
Dante's Wood by Lynne Raimondo — A Mark Angelotti Mystery
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: January 2013
List Price: $15.95