A knockout thriller with one of the most suspenseful courtroom sequences I've read."
Nothing can prepare brilliant young psychologist David Remler for the shocking phone call he receives from a beautiful patient named Samantha Kent. Anxious to help, he rushes out into the Manhattan night to keep an act of violence from spinning further out of control. He knows he's about to get too involved with this woman and that his professional reputation is at stake. But he has no idea he's about to walk into a trap... Suddenly David is the focus of a high-profile murder investigation-and his patient has disappeared into thin air. With only one shot to redeem his name, he first has to clear up a mystery: Just who and where is "Samantha Kent"? Little by little, the outlines of a brilliant plot emerge-and, with it, the horrifying realization that he's up against the mother of all manipulations, a perfect setup even more diabolical than it looks.
Roughan (The Up and Comer) delivers a classic frame-up story, cleverly embellished and stocked with well-drawn albeit familiar genre characters (the sharply observant narrator, the black widow seductress, the bad cop and the less-bad cop) in his second slick page-turner. Narrator David Remler is a successful New York psychologist and the author of a book that explains how upstanding citizens can sometimes commit unspeakable crimes. He inadvertently launched his book onto the bestseller lists when he gave expert testimony in the trial of a rabbi accused of murdering his mistress; jurors cited his testimony as crucial to their decision to convict. Otherwise, we're told, they never would have imagined that a man of the cloth could do anything so horrible (perhaps this was written before the news broke about the recent scandal in the Roman Catholic Church). Still, the setup is clear and the plot full of satisfying poetic justice. Remler, a fine, sympathetic, kind and educated man who has profited from showing the world that anyone is capable of performing terrible deeds at any time, soon finds himself on the point of his own sword. He's accused of murder. His alibi stinks. A sticky web of circumstantial evidence ensnares him, and we watch as Remler's lawyers try to cut him loose. The novel is smoothly written, briskly paced and nicely constructed, with surprises that are genuinely startling.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Grand Central Publishing
February 28, 2005
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Excerpt from The Promise of a Lie by Howard Roughan
To be perfectly blunt and unprofessional, my lineup that day read like the maladjusted all-star team of Manhattan. My nine o'clock was a bulimic,twice-divorced executive who was having an affair with her married boss.
My ten o'clock was a guilt-ridden kleptomaniac who could never keep what he stole. He was always revisiting stores in order to put things back.
Then came my eleven o'clock.So to speak.A sexually compulsive cellist who,among other things,liked to masturbate in the backseat of cabs. I suppose it goes without saying that she lived well beyond walking distance to my office. A couple of hours for lunch and paperwork,and it was time to reload.
Two o'clock:a soap-opera actor who could no longer distinguish between himself and the character he played. Next up was my three o'clock. On second thought, don't get me started on my three o'clock. Finally, there was my last patient of the day. My four o'clock. The main reason I remember that day at all.
His name was Kevin Daniels. A struggling young writer who'd written seven spec screenplays and had yet to sell any of them. Unable to drop the word aspiring from his desired profession, Kevin's frustration had manifested in a deep and bitter hatred of the very people he so much wanted to impress. To Kevin, Hollywood wasn't just populated by mere assholes or idiots. Rather it was infested with, and I quote, culturally retarded wayward whores destined to make feel-good-movie johns out of all of us. End quote.
I could only imagine how his screenplays read. But on this particular afternoon, an overcast Thursday in the middle of October, Kevin arrived at my office with an uncharacteristic smile. He professed to having significant news.
"I've had a moment of intense clarity,an epiphany," he said. He leaned forward and lowered his voice to a whisper." I need to be in the belly of the beast." He stopped and stared at me. "So you-"
"That's right." He plowed on."I'm moving, David. I'm going to Hollywood." "The belly of the beast, as you say." "You got it." "To fight the battle from within." "Exactly," he said.
I nodded,my face giving away nothing. "Are you sure this is a move you want to make?"
"Not only am I sure, I've practically already done it, "came his answer." I flew out there last weekend and rented a place in Hollywood Hills. I'll be heading back there for good the day after tomorrow."
"You're not wasting any time,are you?" "Not if I can help it." "Have you told your parents?" I asked. "They cosigned on the new apartment." "I take it that means they approve?"
"I wouldn't go that far," said Kevin, his palms raised. "My parents know they can't stop me, so they haven't bothered to try. What about you, though ,David? Do you approve of my moving?" I cautioned myself. Much about psychotherapy, or at least the way I approached it, was predicated on the belief that an opinion should never do more harm than good. My job was not to ferret out right from wrong in any absolute sense. Only what was right or wrong for a particular patient.
Kevin was waiting for my answer. "Do I approve of your moving?" I said slowly. "To be honest, I'm not sure my thoughts have anything to do with approving or disapproving. The important thing-and this is something you and I have been talking about for quite some time-is that no one has more control over your life than you do. While that fact alone won 't guarantee you success, it will guarantee you the right to make your own decisions. For better or worse." "In other words, fuck anyone who disapproves," said Kevin. "More or less."
He shrugged." I can live with that." After looking at each other in silence for a few seconds, we both realized that continuing to talk merely because we had time left in the hour would be silly. Kevin told me I should still charge him for a full session. "No, this one's on the house," I said. "Really?"
"Sure. Buy two hundred, get one free." He laughed and we shook hands. I wished him luck. After taking a few steps toward the door, Kevin turned and looked back.