Friday, June 19, 2009

Alastair Campbell's ALL IN THE MIND: "A Brilliant Debut"

An unabashed RAVE review of Alastair Campbell's All in the Mind, recently posted on Curled Up with a Good Book:

“Martin Sturrock feels as though he’s losing his mind. Surely anyone who felt that way would seek psychiatric treatment. The problem lies in the fact that Martin Sturrock is the best psychiatrist in all of London. What happens when our mental health providers find themselves in the midst of a possible breakdown? Who does the best psychiatrist turn to when his own psyche is in danger? You will walk away from All in the Mind asking these questions and many more. Set in contemporary London, Alastair Campbell’s debut novel raises more questions than it answers in a devastating show of real emotion, perseverance, and a raw glimpse at the turmoil within the human mind.

If you’ve ever passed someone walking into a psychiatrist’s office and wondered about their condition, this is the book for you. There is voyeurism in it, plain and true. We see inside the minds of not only Dr. Sturrock’s patients but Dr. Sturrock himself. All in the Mind is slow-moving at times, but every last word is important to the end. If reading it for no other reason, read it for the end. I literally gasped in surprise when I reached the apex of the storyline. For the last fifty pages alone, the novel is worth every second it takes to read it.

That said, if you’re the type of reader who needs to see every last conflict sorted, every storyline tied up in a neat little bow, maybe All in the Mind isn’t for you. It will indeed leave you with more questions than answers, more to think about than when you started. This is not a light read, not one that will leave you feeling all sparkly and new inside when it’s over. It’s the kind that will make you call up your loved ones and tell them how much they mean to you, maybe even look inside yourself to see if you have any of your own demons to face to avoid a plunge of your own.

Bottom line: All in the Mind is a brilliant debut. Campbell is an exceedingly talented author who knows how to weave a story, and his weave is tight; that kind of quality takes time to build up. The slow and easy pace is rewarded with a few moments of utter shock, moments that Campbell does amazingly well. Perhaps one of the best things about All in the Mind is that it doesn’t fit into any niche at all. It’s all on its own, and it stands out beautifully. Campbell’s storytelling is beyond reproach. It’s good to know there is still fiction that can make us all think."

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