As a psychologist I love the opportunity to read fiction that involves psychology. Nutcase is a romantic suspense by Charlotte Hughes. It features Kate Holly, a clinical psychologist from Atlanta. While it has a plot that centers on a serial arsonist, the book is really an ensemble story with a host of interesting and fun characters, and its central premise, that the life of a psychologist is enough to drive anyone nuts, rings true.
The story begins with Kate and her ex-husband in couples therapy. In the first book in the series (this book stands alone fine) Kate and her husband Jay “accdentally” go through with a divorce that Kate intended to call off. But what with a nitroglycerin explosion of her office and other madness and mahem from the first book, the divorce unfolded without protest. Now they are trying to get back together, but her Jay complains that she is using sex to avoid talking.
And there is a lot that kate is keeping to herself. Like that she is being evicted from her office because of the explosision and may have to move to share an office with a psychiatrist ex-boyfriend, who still wants her back. Her dog gets depressed from an empty nest syndrome. Her aunt (who is her mother’s twin and co-owner of a Junk art business) has run off with a con man who is also her patient. Her eccentric receptionist is dressing like a nurse as a dress rehearsal for nursing school, and one of her patients thinks she is Marie Osmand.
These problems and dozens of other unusual predicaments challenge Kate, who just happens to have a mild obsessive compulsive disorder (Monk light) and serve to entertain while the arson plot unfolds.
This is the second book in this series by Ms. Hughes, and in this series, one can see that she perfected the art of writing a series when she co-authored the FULL series with Janet Evanovich. This book is most like her ensemble romantic comedy A NEW ATTITUDE in that it’s also about the support and love you get from friends and family, when the going gets tough; it is also just as uplifting. There are several therapy scenes in the book, and as a psychologist I thought that they often (while obviously magnified for fictional effect)
not only true to form but also often potentially helpful to the casual reader who has not had the benefit of therapy. I especially enjoyed the vignette where she helps a young gang member sort things out.
I give this book my top rating, despite its relatively striaghtforward suspense plot. It still a novel you cant put down, and what it lacks in dramatic tension it more than makes up for in humor and inspiration. This is a book you will keep on your shelves, so your friends will just have to get their own copy. Charlotte Hughes writes incredibly realistic dialogue, makes her characters always 3 dimensional, and most important makes them so likable and interesting that you are sorry the book ends. The perfect setup for a series that will be a great success.