BookBrowse Reviews Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

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Every Fifteen Minutes

by Lisa Scottoline

Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline X
Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2015, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2016, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rory L. Aronsky
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Lisa Scottoline's visceral thriller brings you into the grip of a true sociopath.

Unlike bees, who die after stinging someone once, hornets can sting multiple times. Lisa Scottoline's writing is like a hornet. Every Fifteen Minutes is full of sharp and intentional jabs; it seems to sting the reader over and over again.

Dr. Eric Parrish, Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside Philadelphia, isn't all that interesting on his own. His past, marked by an anxiety disorder when he was in medical school, is intriguing, and descriptions of his Psychiatric Unit as well as the private practice at his new house – in the midst of a divorce from his wife, Caitlin, and ensuing custody battle over his young daughter, Hannah – give enough depth to engage the reader in learning about his life, but he, himself, doesn't trigger a fervent desire to turn pages and find out what happens next. He makes one think of a house decorated in whites, browns, and grays, with stainless steel appliances in the kitchen: impressive in its appearance, but little to warm to.

Yet the reader does want to turn the pages faster and faster. Scottoline achieves this by starting the novel with insight from a sociopath, specifically what makes a sociopath. Further chapters from this mysterious person's point of view raise the stakes tremendously before they dramatically topple and reveal the sociopath's identity. Those stakes include other characters who form Eric's inner circle, including Dr. Laurie Fortunato, an ER doctor and a long-time friend, and the teenaged, potentially OCD patient Max, whom Dr. Parrish has begun treating, and in whose life he becomes dangerously involved, even though he's met with him only three times. Eric has sufficient reason to be worried about Max, especially in light of Max's grandmother's impending death from cancer and the teen's obsession with Renee Bevilacqua, who he tutors. Upon sensing that Max might be a danger to himself after a death in his small family, Eric shucks his professional distance and frantically searches for him. All the while, the sociopath continues scheming, and presenting emotions that disturbingly match Eric's, forcing the reader to wonder just how intertwined they are.

Scottoline mines suspense from daily life, which makes Every Fifteen Minutes exceptionally surprising, and her perspective on a sociopath is extremely convincing. She also introduces an enormously charismatic, entertaining defense attorney late in the story, who completely lights up the novel. He makes up for early, less interesting scenes with Eric, and makes the novel much more worthwhile to read. We get more of a sense of Eric's character through this attorney, and the accusations that follow, which Eric hurriedly tries to prove wrong.

Scottoline has mastered the sting, continuously poking as the novel progresses. Throughout Every Fifteen Minutes, as darker turns appear, the list of potential suspects grows. Each jab is a new "hornet" of a possibility, making the reader wonder, scared, who might be the true culprit. There are many red herrings in play, with some unexpected names considered. Are they really capable of the horrific acts that follow? Even when not reading the novel, it still whirs and works in the back of the reader's mind, with surprising possibilities emerging. For example, the thought of another suspect not previously considered suddenly popped into my mind while washing the dinner dishes one night. In the end, the thought was dead wrong, but the experience was no less exhilarating. Keep your midnights clear for this edgy, rewarding read.

Reviewed by Rory L. Aronsky

This review was originally published in April 2015, and has been updated for the March 2016 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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