Published by St. Martin's Press on April 14, 2015
A visceral thriller, which brings you into the grip of a true sociopath and shows you how, in the quest to survive such ruthlessness, every minute counts.
Dr. Eric Parrish is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside of Philadelphia. Recently separated from his wife Alice, he is doing his best as a single Dad to his seven-year-old daughter Hannah. His work seems to be going better than his home life, however. His unit at the hospital has just been named number two in the country and Eric has a devoted staff of doctors and nurses who are as caring as Eric is. But when he takes on a new patient, Eric's entire world begins to crumble. Seventeen-year-old Max has a terminally ill grandmother and is having trouble handling it. That, plus his OCD and violent thoughts about a girl he likes makes Max a high risk patient. Max can't turn off the mental rituals he needs to perform every fifteen minutes that keep him calm.
With the pressure mounting, Max just might reach the breaking point. When the girl is found murdered, Max is nowhere to be found. Worried about Max, Eric goes looking for him and puts himself in danger of being seen as a "person of interest" himself. Next, one of his own staff turns on him in a trumped up charge of sexual harassment. Is this chaos all random? Or is someone systematically trying to destroy Eric's life?
New York Times best selling author Lisa Scottoline's visceral thriller, Every Fifteen Minutes, brings you into the grip of a true sociopath and shows you how, in the quest to survive such ruthlessness, every minute counts.
I have been a long-time fan of Lisa Scottoline and her twisty, ruthless hold on me. You never suspect her, and to me her writing is the perfect marriage between Jodi Picoult and a more amped-up thriller, perhaps similar to Tana French. At the end of the day, though, Scottoline holds her own and has a style so uniquely hers that you can’t help but sit up and take notice. This was my third Scottoline book, and it was certainly no exception.
How I’d Explain This Book to A Friend
Meet Eric Parrish. He’s a young father, husband, and psychiatrist, both in a unit and in private practice in his home. He loves what he does, and especially loves his little girl, Hannah, who is his world and encapsulates all of his values. Eric is well-liked, respected, and cherished at work by residents, staff and patients alike.
So it’s a bit of a shock when it all comes crashing down.
His wife, Caitlin, decides to leave him – unceremoniously driving a wedge between them until Eric is forced to purchase a small home just to stay afloat and see patients. She denies him access to Hannah, and forces him to talk to her through a lawyer. So we meet Eric in an emotionally compromised space when he is called down to the emergency department to meet an old woman, terminally ill with likely just days left, and her teenage grandson, Max. Max has had a hard life, and his grandmother is the only family he cares for. Max needs help facing his grandma’s – sweetly called Gummy – mortality, and so Eric agrees to take him on as a private patient.
Max is a sweet, malleable young man. He clearly has OCD, and it manifests in his having to perform a certain, small ritual every 15 minutes or he gets completely worked up. He is also very much in love with a young woman who comes to his tutoring job – a beautiful, bright girl named Renee – but being young and awkward, he doesn’t quite know how to pursue her. His care for her manifests in his following her home from her job at a frozen yogurt shop, making sure she gets home safely since she drives like a bat out of hell.
And then, one day, all Hell breaks loose.
What follows is the story of Eric, Max, and the murder of Renee. Max has gone missing, Eric gets pulled in by the police, and his world turns upside down. To a man whose routine is of paramount importance, this feels like a death sentence. And if Eric didn’t kill Renee, and he knows in his gut that Max didn’t either, who did? And why?
The Bottom Line
Interspersed through this page-turner are first person monologues by a self-professed sociopath. We don’t find out who this person is until the eleventh hour, but they’ve always been this way, and they absolutely love themselves. These chunks of the book are alarming because we could be sharing an office space with this person, or an Uber Pool. They could be your dentist, your doctor, your local librarian. Sociopaths are everywhere, they are just good at hiding it, and that’s what this book really brings into the chilly, frightening light. Scottoline really did her research well, on sociopaths and psychiatry both. You really feel like you’re in the unit with Eric, and your jaw will drop alongside his every time.
I was prepared to give this book a solid, middle-of-the-road 3 out of 5 stars because I was gearing up for a disappointingly stereotypical ending, but the last 2 chapters completely turned this on its head for me – Scottoline got me good, and I didn’t see the twist coming at all. I absolutely give her props for that – her books never leave me bored, always challenging me to shake those preconceived notions we all have of what certain people are like.
If you’re like me and hate waiting for the next Jodi Picoult book, if you like your domestic thrillers a little bit spicier than the now-stereotypical “husband keeps wife locked away/abused/dirty little secret/Gone Girl” formula, please don’t hesitate to give Lisa Scottoline a try. She is quickly moving up the ranks for me, becoming one of my most favorite authors. You won’t be disappointed.
“I’ve read that one out of twenty-four people is a sociopath, and if you ask me, the other twenty-three of you should be worried.”