THERAPY by Sebastian Fitzek

Book Quote:

“That was the last statement that Viktor heard clearly. For a fleeting moment, everything became apparent. He knew exactly what had happened. The awful truth appeared before him, revealing itself briefly like a dream in the moment of consciousness, then slipping from his grasp.  Momentarily the whole business was laid open: Josy’s illness and the pain that had haunted her for the past eleven months. He knew what had happened, knew what had been done to her and, with a lurching feeling in his stomach, knew they would be after him too. Sooner or later they would get to him, he knew it with unshakeable conviction, but the moment passed and the horrifying truth escaped him, disappearing as forlornly as a single drop of water in a flood. “

Book Review:

Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky (MAY 03, 2009)

In Sebastian Fitzek’s Therapy, forty-seven year old Dr. Viktor Larenz is “an eminent psychiatrist with a successful clinic in central Berlin” and “is the author of numerous books and was once a regular guest on radio and TV.” He has a wife, Isabell, and an eleven-year old daughter, Josy, whom he adores. Sadly, Larenz experiences a mental breakdown and is admitted to a facility for treatment. What precipitated his emotional collapse? It seems that his little girl had been ill for almost a year, with symptoms that her doctors could not trace to any obvious cause. Josy starts out with vomiting and diarrhea and later suffers from seizures, infections, and nosebleeds. Then, something even more dreadful occurs. Josy vanishes, and her father is beside himself with grief.

Therapy veers from the present to the past and then back to the present, as Larenz’s therapist, Dr. Roth, attempts to unlock the secrets of his patient’s disordered psyche. Viktor recounts his stay in his family’s island cottage four years after his child’s disappearance. One day, an intruder enters his house. She is a mysterious woman named Anna Glass, who may have important information about Josy’s fate. Although he no longer practices medicine, Larenz agrees to treat Anna, hoping that they can bring one another the closure that they desperately seek.

Sally-Ann Spencer skillfully translates this tale of obsession and self-delusion from the original German. Fitzek plays with us, allowing us glimpses of the truth and then throwing us off the scent. The canny reader will probably guess what is going on long before the book’s denouement, but there are some surprising developments that few will foresee. Larenz is a tragic yet sympathetic hero. We identify with his pain and torment, even as we dread finding out the reason for his bizarre behavior. When Viktor decides to face reality, he suspects that doing so will cost him the little sanity that he still possesses. Therapy is a bit too gimmicky to work as a literary thriller, but it is a mesmerizing and fast-paced novel that effectively explores the most twisted recesses of the human mind.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-5-0from 2 readers
PUBLISHER: St. Martin’s Press; 1 edition (March 17, 2009)
REVIEWER: Eleanor Bukowsky
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Sebastian Fitzek
EXTRAS: Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Author John Katzenbach recommends Therapy.

Readers who enjoy this book may also enjoy:

PRINCE OF LOST PLACES by Kathy Hepinstall


  • Therapy (2006; March 2009 in US)
  • Dialing Amok (2007)
  • The Child Breaker (2008)
  • The Spirit Breaker (October 2008)
  • Splitter (June 2009)

May 3, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Debut Novel, Germany, Mystery/Suspense, Psychological Suspense, Translated, World Lit

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