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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
When is crime fiction more than just crime fiction? When it’s written by Edward A Dreyfus and its protagonist is Almost Dead in the first chapter! Just picture yourself sipping your morning coffee and surfing your laptop when a bullet buzzes across the top of your head. What an opening! Now the big question becomes who would want to kill the socially conscious and generous-with-his-time Dr. David Edminson, a clinical and forensic psychologist who counsels Skid Row residents for free during the midnight hours? The first thing to check, of course, is his patient list, past and present. But there’s that little obstruction to this approach called “patient confidentiality”.
So while David leaves the shooting to his two police buddies to figure out, he proceeds to share with us stories of several of his regular patients: a wife battling her suddenly-turned violent husband; a college professor accused of sexual advances on his students; a guy who could do so much more with his college degree than be a pimp; and a transgender former military soldier...just to name a few.
Their stories, and how David guides them toward finding acceptable solutions to their unhappiness, are interesting reading and comprise much of Almost Dead’s content. So is the detailed relationship between David and three of his high school friends whom he sees regularly but realizes he no longer really knows as all of them have secrets they are afraid to share.
The bottom line, Almost Dead is closer to literary fiction than it is to crime fiction in that its focus is less on the plot and more on the characters and what they learn about themselves. For readers who are more interested in gaining insight into human motivation than visualizing movie-style violent crime...and there certainly is enough of that in this novel too...Almost Dead is an absorbing read. As for the “midnight shrink’s” idea suggested toward the end for offering to counsel those who can’t afford it? Very cool indeed. Check it out!