Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante

Turn of Mind - Alice LaPlante

Turn of Mind is a book that’s been on my TBR for absolutely ages, ever since the Guardian newspaper gave it a great review. The reason I never got around to it is that it’s a murder-mystery style thriller and I’ve been reading less of those lately. But when I landed on the Booklikes-opoly square that said I had to read a book tagged thriller or adventure on GR I thought it was time.


Dr. Jennifer White, a brilliant former surgeon in the early grips of Alzheimer's, is suspected of murdering her best friend, Amanda. Amanda's body was found brutally disfigured — with four of her fingers cut off in a precise, surgical manner. As the police pursue their investigation and Jennifer searches her own mind for fractured clues to Amanda's death, a portrait emerges of a complex relationship between two uncompromising, unsentimental women, lifelong friends who were at times each other's most formidable adversaries.


A book like this, whose main character has dementia, can be hard to pull off because of the often stunted character development and narrative repetition. That being said, I found the plot engaging.


As far as characters go, there was no-one that I really felt connected with. I felt deeply sympathetic with Jennifer (the protagonist), but didn’t feel like I ever truly got to know her or her motivations, even though there were quite a few past instances recounted.


Jennifer’s friend, Amanda, was the most interesting character, but she was the object of the murder-mystery, so often the reader’s perception of her is through another’s eyes, which is restrictive.


The novel had a shocking conclusion that makes you question so much you thought you knew. It also brings up many questions in relation to memory, dementia and mother-daughter relations. The ending was one of the most redeeming features of the book, although I’ve never liked it when a book only resolves the central mystery in the last pages. It feels too rushed then.


A decent enough read, although I recommend Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Heany, which is basically the same thing only much better.