Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

My Mother the Psychopath – Olivia Rayne

Non Fiction

I don’t typically go for the ‘misery memoir’ genre of reading because quite frankly I find much of the books that proliferated at the peak of its popularity grim, unrelenting and almost voyeuristic. However when the contents move away from a catalogue of actions to something more thoughtful, an exploration of a person, well I find that fascinating.

Olivia Rayne always knew as she was growing up that other mothers didn’t behave like hers but it was probably more of a slow realisation to making the leap to giving her the diagnosis of a psychopath. This term is thrown about with a fair degree of abandon these days, thanks in part to the popularity of Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test which educated the population that not all psychopaths are serial killers, in fact the vast majority move among us.

Mothering though is generally accepted to require all the good skills, protecting, nurturing, and caring which don’t square with what comes naturally to the psychopath. This of course means any child born to such a parent, and you could argue particularly if it is the mother who is wired in this way, is going to suffer to some degree. Coupled as these people often are to weak and ineffectual partners and the result is disaster.

Rayne heads up each chapter to her memoir with a description of one of the 20 accepted psychopathic traits and then follows it with an example of her life with her mother. Some of these events took place when Olivia was a small child, some more recently but many show that the face presented to the world was far from that which she used to scare and humiliate her daughter away from the public gaze. Of course this methodology also allows the reader to make a judgement on the truth of what we are being told in a way that a list of awful events is less likely to have the same impact on the reader.

The book is also testament to that movement that I am desperately hoping will gather pace. Olivia isn’t using what happened to her in childhood as a reason for behaving like a victim. She’s hidden her identity in part so that she can continue working amongst her peers without the prurient details defining her for ever more. Most fascinating of all was the discovery that Olivia had broken ranks on the silence of her childhood a couple of years ago when she submitted an article about her mother to an online paper. The reaction was in line with that which had occurred when she initially broke off contact, a ceaseless barrage of emails in turns abusive and appealing, not just to Olivia herself but to her boss, colleagues and friends.

With a definite feeling that this book is both putting the past behind her and reaching out to others who are in this little studied relationship and giving a feeling of hope for a different type of life. For that you can only applaud this brave author.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Ebury Press who allowed me to read a copy of My Mother the Psychopath. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 24 January 2019
Publisher: Ebury Press
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Non-Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Kill – Jane Casey

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction

Maeve Kerrigan is back and if like me you were eagerly awaiting this episode, you won’t be disappointed. If you haven’t read any of this series yet, you are missing out.

Jane Casey’s books contain a superb array of complex characters, not for her the caricature of a policeman (or woman), mother, schoolteacher or member of a gun club. No, instead the characters have layers, even Josh Derwent, Maeve’s superior officer, who spends most of his time being the most obnoxiously sexist man you’d ever have the misfortune to spend time with, turns everything on its head with a kind word or action where you’d least expect it. Maeve, is a real woman too. Yes she is brave but she has a loving side, she is a good counter-balance to Josh and I love her put-downs, particularly when suffixed with ‘Sir’!

Not only does The Kill have the wonderful array of characters, including those from the previous books but it also has a plot that feels current and fresh. The Police are being targeted by an unknown assassin and the media aided and abetted by a politician trying to make a name for himself are keen to point out that the Metropolitan Police have bought this on themselves when they shot and killed an innocent boy. The boys mother provides a dignified display and brief sound bites to the press, pleading for peace on the streets of London. Jane Casey is careful to give her reader the references to connect to the story, most notably the riots in England in 2011, without ramming the point home. For those of us that watched those very real incidents unfold, that is all that is needed to connect to the fear of what would happen if lawlessness was allowed to go unchecked for any length of time.

But this is fiction, and Josh and Maeve are working, along with the rest of the team, to put the pieces together and find the killer and in the best tradition of a good story, just as you thought it had all been worked out there are some more loose ends to tie up!

I have found all the books in this series compulsive reading, the pace is just right, although like me you may need to forgo so sleep or suffer a racing heart as the killing escalates and the violence seems unstoppable. All this is softened with by the perfect ratio of Police work to personal life, moving the story forward while giving the reader more than just endless action scenes.

I was delighted to receive a copy of this book from Amazon Vine in return for this honest review ahead of the publication date of 5 June 2014.  If this series has passed you by, here is The Maeve Kerrigan Series in order:

The Burning

The Reckoning

The Last Girl

The Stranger You Know

Jane Casey’s debut novel was a stand-alone read The Missing where the police are looking for a missing girl, Jenny. In a strange twist Jenny’s teacher, Sarah Finch knows what the family are going through, her brother also went missing as a child.