Sunday 3 October 2021

BLOG TOUR: Primary Obsessions - Charles Demers

The endearing and unflappable Dr. Annick Boudreau regularly confronts a myriad of mental health issues in her psychiatric practice at the West Coast Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Clinic. But even Annick is stunned when Sanjay, a young patient who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is arrested for the brutal murder of his roommate.

While Sanjay is tortured by repeated violent thoughts, he is horrified by them and Annick is convinced that he would never enact one of them in real life. But the police and prosecutor are convinced that they have caught the perpetrator and aren't interested in looking very hard. Unable to talk to the authorities because of doctor-patient confidentiality, Annick feels compelled to investigate on her own, whatever the risks.

Primary Obsessions is the first book in a series of mysteries starring Dr. Annick Boudreau and involving themes of mental health. Author (and longtime CBT patient) Charles Demers deftly reveals a particular aspect of psychiatric practice in each book, illuminating shadowy subject matter with masterful sensitivity and sharp wit. Primary Obsessions is an engrossing page-turner and a refreshing reboot of the sleuth genre.

What did I think?

A quick read at just under 200 pages, Primary Obsessions is a great start to a series that gives us a glimpse into a psychiatric practice in Vancouver.  Dr Annick Boudreau really cares about her patients and she definitely goes the extra mile for them, making her a fabulous protagonist and one that I would like to read more about.

The story is a murder mystery but the book also explores the subject of mental health and in doing so, removes the stigma of mental illness as we see the person behind the condition.  When they are called out to a murder scene, the police think they have got their man but Annick is confident that her patient Sanjay is innocent and she will fight to prove it.

I really enjoyed this book; it helped me to understand more about mental health in an entertaining and sensitive way.  Charles Demers should be applauded for that alone, but the novel is also brilliantly written with a gripping plot and a well-developed protagonist.  The only slight niggle I have is that now and again there are some French phrases in the prose which, although it makes it authentic, could be difficult for readers without a basic knowledge of French to understand. 

Gripping and entertaining, Primary Obsessions is a brilliant start to a new series.  Charles Demers has done a wonderful job of putting mental health under the microscope and shows us that it's nothing like what you see on the outside.  I can't wait to read more in the series.

I received an ARC to read and review for the blog tour; this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

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