From the first page, I was drawn into a unique storyline that had me trying to put the pieces together immediately. Rick Rasner is the primary character, whom we meet briefly in hospital–and then seven years later in a reconstructed life as a therapist in the Brookhill Children’s Psychiatric Residence. There he is a meek-mannered man under the tutelage of Dr. Obenchain, who was responsible for his rehabilitation and his placement there.
With no memory of what happened in the bridge explosion that upended his life, or of his life before, Rick struggles to begin anew. In the facility, he is quickly drawn into the traumas of his patients, especially Clara Blue, and seems set from Day One in conflict against the torturous reign of the administrator Katherine Miller.
What I enjoyed most about this thriller, aside from the unanswered questions that only came together near the end, was how I wanted to root for Rick and even Clara Blue, despite the hint that neither of these characters was who they seemed.
Both felt like underdogs, and naturally I wanted them to win out against the horrific Ms. Miller. There is also the matter of the large bump on Rick’s head and the constant headaches and other symptoms that suggest that something is very much awry.
Almost in the background, we also follow the adventures of Jake Scarberry, who is in the Witness Protection Program. His backstory and connections to Rick will come to the fore much later.
What really happened to Rick Rasner? And is Dr. Obenchain a wonderful mentor or some kind of puppeteer? How will the lives of the players mesh, and what will ultimately cause everything to unravel? I could feel my emotions ratcheting up as events moved along, came apart, and then reached a violent and somewhat confusing finale.
The Rasner Effect is the first in a series, and naturally I cannot wait to read the next installment. Five stars.