Monday, June 3, 2013

Book Review: psych - A Fatal Frame of Mind by William Rabkin (psych #4)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Characters, humor, most of the plot
Cons: Climax gets cheated, Kitteredge's history lessons
The Bottom Line
Plenty of humor
Conspiracy and murder
For fans of the show

Far Fetched but Fun

I fully intended to read A Fatal Frame of Mind, the latest tie in to the TV show psych, during the show's recent midseason hiatus.  Other things kept jumping in front of it, however, and next thing I knew, new episodes were back on TV.  Too bad because it makes a perfect way to fill some time between new episodes.

Gus is thrilled to be contacted by Langston Kitteredge, his old art professor.  Langston is asking for Gus' help, so Gus tricks Shawn into showing up at a major unveiling at the Santa Barbara Art Museum.  The duo arrive to find out that a long lost masterpiece isn't the only thing that has been revealed.  The museum's curator is also behind the curtain, dead.

Langston quickly becomes the police's only suspect, but he insists that this is all the work of an ancient Cabal trying to keep the location of Excalibur secret.  It sounds crazy, until more clues come to light.  Could he be right?  How can Gus and Shawn prove Langston's innocence?

If the plot seems a little farfetched, it's not just you.  I looked at the premise and thought there was no way the author could pull it off.  As I got into the book, I bought into the story presented here, however.  After all, some of the episodes of the TV show are pretty outlandish as well.  It actually does fit into the world of psych quite nicely, and each step in the plot is logically laid out for us.  Unfortunately, the story must have been running long because the ultimate climax is rushed and a little clumsy.  It makes sense; I figured it out about the same time Shawn did.  It just should have been explained better.

The main characters are true to their TV selves.  Like the other books, Shawn and Gus are the main focus, and the others mainly have cameos.  Again, that's often the way the show works each week.  Like the show, this book is at its best when it allows Shawn and Gus to banter back and forth, and those conversations provided some nice laughs.  Of the new characters, Professor Kitteredge gets the most page time.  He's an interesting character when not allowed to blabber on about art history.  Some of his scenes get a little tedious.  Yes, we need the background for the plot to work, but they felt a little like data dumps.

The book was very well written.  I never had a problem following the action, and the pages flew by quickly.

Ultimately, I think A Fatal Frame of Mind tried to do just a little too much.  It was fun, and I enjoyed reading it, but a slightly less ambitious plot, or more pages, would have really helped it.  Still, it will please the fans of the TV show.

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