Last year I reviewed 'The Dinner' by the same author. My final comment was that it left me with a chill. And my first comment here is that this one is equally chilling. There weren't many nice characters in 'The Dinner' and there aren't actually any in this novel. It is almost as if the author was trying things out in the first one, refining his technique, before he launched this attractive bunch of people on us!

This is a much bigger book than 'The Dinner', with a bigger story to tell. Dr Marc Schlosser is a doctor, just a regular general practitioner, but due to his generous prescribing has become a 'go to' doctor for those who move in desirable social circles. One day, one of his patients, Ralph Meier, a well known actor, dies in slightly mysterious circumstances, and so begins the story of how this death came about. Is it a case of medical mismanagement and error, or has the highly regarded Dr Schlosser commited a murder.

Marc, who narrates the story, thinks he is a good doctor. He gives lots of time to his patients and always prescribes at least one form of medication, so they think he is wonderful. But in the first few pages, he is brutally honest with the reader, as to what he really thinks of his wealthy and connected patients, and the work he does. And yet he finds it very diffcult to pull himself away from the world of his patients. He and his wife, Caroline, and their two young teenage daughters Julia and Lisa, are invited to spend some of the summer with Ralph, his wife Judith and their two teenage sons at the latters' summer house. Against his better judgement as Ralph has made his lust for Caroline very clear, Marc talks his wife into going, mainly because he, in turn, fancies Judith. You can see it is going to get very messy. But it is not only the grownups who become unhinged; thirteen year old Julia ends up at the centre of the crisis surrounding the death of Ralph.

The machinations and little power games that go on as everyone is trying to cover their tracks, as new evidence and secrets are disclosed is brilliantly and cunningly done. I actually started to feel a little sorry for Marc. Despite his awfulness, he does love his daughters very much, and like any father, wants to avenge the wrong that has been done. Btu all these people are such screw ups, that it is hardly surprising it does all go wrong.

This is great writing, a riveting page turner of a thriller. Despite all the characters being inherently unlikeable, there is some humanity in all of them. How clever is it to be able to write like that! Marc, the doctor character the writer has created is a monster and I am relieved some time has passed since reading this before I have to visit my doctor again! But it is so carefully crafted, and like any good psychological thriller, the reader/viewer is constantly drawn back to the scariest character who  appears to be so amazingly normal. Not....

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