BOOK REVIEW

THE MADMAN'S TALE - JOHN KATZENBACH

Over two decades have passed since the notorious Western State Hospital mental health facility shut down. Compared to the other inmates and much of the staff, Francis "C-Bird" Petrel, in spite of the cacophony of voices in his head, seemed relatively normal. He befriends another comparatively stable soul Peter the Fireman, an arsonist who killed a pedophile priest. Now C-Bird lives in a cheap apartment where he writes his memoirs on the walls and takes medicine to keep the voices from causing orchestral disharmony inside his head.

Looking back to the violent murder of Nurse "Short Blond", C-Bird thought at first his other pal from the days of confinement against his will Lanky killed her because he had earlier called her evil. However, Lanky insisted that the Angel of Death murdered the nurse. State prosecutor Lucy Kyoto Jones, who was obsessed with taking down those who harm women and children, believed the schizoid Lanky is telling the truth. She enlisted the help of the two "normals", C-Bird and Fireman, because she felt that the real culprit had killed others outside the wall.

THE MADMAN'S TALE is a fascinating look back at a homicide through the eyes of a soul with a mental disorder. The story line grips the audience as C-Bird narrates it with a different perspective than normally provided. The who-done-it is well written and clever and the insider's glimpse at the mental institution by a guest is mesmerizing. Fans will enjoy this crime thriller that will remind readers of Gothika though the star is quite different.

REVIEWED BY HARRIET KLAUSNER

DO NOT REPRINT WITHOUT PERMISSION OF THE REVIEWER, HARRIET KLAUSNER