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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
The Shadow Of The Mole by Bob Van Laerhoven is an intense and powerful blend of mystery and history. At the onset of World War I, French sappers discover an unconscious man that they nicknamed The Mole. This man claims to have lost his memory, and psychiatrist-in-training Michel Denis finds him a medical curiosity. Michel believes that The Mole is experiencing front-line trauma—a theory that doesn’t stand well with the military brass that considers The Mole a deserter. The military thinks that Michel’s theory is a threat to the discipline in the ranks and that a true soldier has no traumas. Michel’s fascination for The Mole further heightens when the patient begins to write in écriture automatique--a type of writing which consists of creating random sentences and preserving the principles of traditional syntax. The Mole’s writing reveals that he is well-versed in the development of psychoanalysis, and this pushes Michel to do everything in his power to discover The Mole’s past and identity.
The novel has dramatic depths that it displays effectively. After all, war can change any man. You can’t help but feel anxious to learn The Mole’s true identity as he begins to display a facility for an intelligent preoccupation, and you can’t blame a man of science like Michel to have an increasing curiosity for The Mole as a medical case. Bob Van Laerhoven never misses the opportunity to flesh out his characters, to give you insight as to who they are. Psychology as a discipline plays an important part in the plot and Laerhoven effectively embeds it in your consciousness through appropriate references. The Shadow of the Mole is as enigmatic as it is powerful. It is written with skill in the way it weaves scientific analysis with the inner lives of its characters. It’s a must-read for anyone who enjoys a cerebral story with a great blend of mystery, history, and psychoanalysis.