All Dibdin's Aurelio Zen mysteries are entertaining
As usual, Jon Ronson writes a very enjoyable report. Of course, we've all read about the past horrors in the name of psychology/psychiatry; lobotomies, electroshock "treatments", the Oak Ridge experiment. In this book, written almost as a diary, Ronson ultimately focuses on psychopathy; definitions, "treatments", in particular how to recognize a psychopath, hence the title. I found myself applying the 20 question psychopath test to myself, and was greatly relieved when an expert was quoted as saying that if you wonder if you are a psychopath, you are certainly not one.
However, I am now totally convinced that any politician must be.
Fun to read, as all Plum novels are, but predictable... Of course, Stephanie has her usual Morelli/Ranger dilemma, Lula attacks anyone calling her fat, and Plum blows up another car... I can't tell them apart! After 17 novels, I would like to see some development of the characters...
I cannot remember when I last was so emotionally involved with a story and the characters portrayed. The experience was absorbing, sometimes draining, and immensely rewarding.
Some reviewers have found the narrative trite, predictable, and obviously contrived for moviedom; the same comments could conceivably apply to the works of Dickens, Hugo, Tolstoi, among many. Perhaps the huge cultural abyss between the USA and Afghanistan may lead some readers to similar conclusions; however, having been brought up in a similar culture, I found the characters and emotions not only credible, but heartwrenchingly familiar.
This novel should not be read as a roadmap to the complexities of the recent history and politics of Afghanistan; instead the reader should absorb the emotional lives and drama of the personalities so deftly portrayed, and use their perspectives to interpret the socio-political facts sketched in the news media.
I usually enjoy Jill Churchill's "cozy" mysteries, but this one ha s very little of the mystery genre in it, and far, far too much of the "cozy" touch. The reader drowns in the details.