August 4, 2011

Turn of Mind - review

Turn of Mind
author Alice La Plante
available July 5, 2011
source: NetGalley

Some personal reflections first:  My mother lived alone until the month before she turned 95.  At that time, I knew she needed to move into assisted living.  Her regular physician suggested I take her to a geriatric specialist.  After some tests, the specialist told me Mother had early, early Alzheimer's.  The geriatrist emphasized early.   When I asked her prognosis, the doctor said because of Mother's age, the chances were that she would die of a different cause before her Alzheimer's  or dementia became really serious.  The doctor was right.

So when I heard about Turn of Mind, a mystery "written" from the viewpoint of a character with Alzheimer's, this was a must-read for me. Dr. Jennifer White is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in hands. Her best friend has been found murdered, with fingers skillfully amputated. The police repeatedly question Jennifer, or as she huffily says, "Call me Dr. White." Because of her dementia, she cannot adequately answer the questions --- or is she using her dementia as an excuse to avoid answering?

There are flashbacks to the past. Jennifer has a caretaker living with her. A journal is used to help Jennifer keep in touch with what is going on and who has visited. As the novel progresses, Jennifer's memory becomes dimmer and dimmer. She gets confused ... the reader in turn becomes confused. I thought this confusion was cleverly handled.

Whodunnit and why is a minor portion of the novel; I was able to figure it out before the end.

Another reviewer pointed out how the voice (first person tense, second, and third) changed throughout the novel. It makes me want to pick it up and re-read it again! Even though I don't often re-read books, I'm sure I will this one.

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