What happens when a psychologist begins to question her own sanity?
Sara runs a private psychology practice for troubled youth in the large, newly inherited house she is refurbishing with her husband, Sigurd. One morning, a voicemail from Sigurd tells Sara he’s arrived at a holiday cabin for a weekend away with the guys. A couple of hours later, Sigurd’s friends call from the cabin asking where he is — according to them, Sigurd never arrived.
Sara is irritated by what she thinks is a practical joke. But as the hours stretch out, Sara’s anger turns to fear, and the large empty house where every room is half-finished starts to feel less like a home and increasingly threatening. She begins to feel that she is being watched. Random items seem to move or disappear when she isn’t looking. And at night Sara wakes to the sound of footsteps in the attic.
As the terrible truth of Sigurd’s disappearance unfolds, Sara begins to question her reality. Can she, an expert in interpreting other people’s emotions and motivations, trust her own thoughts? And where is she safe?
Hi and welcome to my review of The Therapist!
When I first spotted The Therapist on Twitter, my interest was piqued immediately and I just knew I had to read it. I do love me a Scandi thriller, and one about a psychologist, written by an actual psychologist? Well!
The Therapist is told from the perspective of Sara, the therapist in question, in the present with flashbacks to the past. The Therapist kicks off on an ordinary Friday, with Sara having three clients scheduled and her husband Sigurd kissing her goodbye before leaving on a weekend getaway with two mates. Only, that evening Sara gets a call from said mates: Sigurd hasn’t arrived, does she know where he is? Well sure she does, he left her a voicemail message saying that he’d arrived safely, mentioning one of the guys as well, so of course he’s with them, where else could he possibly be?!
What at first seems like a prank, soon turns out to be quite serious and Sara is at a complete loss. Who can she turn to, who can she trust? Clearly her husband lied to her, or his mates, or all of them. Alone at the house she feels unease. A folder of Sigurd’s that was gone returns, a pan she placed on the stove has been moved, fridge magnets have been tampered with, footsteps wake her up at night, the front door wide open. Is she sure she locked it? Well obviously! Isn’t she? Didn’t she?
The Therapist is an atmospheric slow-burner. It doesn’t depend on high-octane action scenes to hold its reader captive, it doesn’t need to. Parts of the story are almost a stream of consciousness, with Sara thinking everything through and analysing both her past with Sigurd and her early childhood. Although this does slow down the pace, I rather enjoyed these parts where not the thriller element but the family drama and the study of human nature take the front seat.
Yet the thriller element is never far away. Things keep happening to take Sara out of her own head. Things that made me frown and mutter: wait a minute… I figured out a thing or two but I never managed to uncover the whole plot before Sara did.
Overall I had a great time with The Therapist. If you’re looking to add to your collection of Scandi thrillers and you enjoy a psychological angle, be sure to check this one out.
The Therapist is out now in digital formats and audio and will be out in hardcover on 8 July. The paperback edition will follow early next year.
Huge thanks to MacLehose Press for the beautiful proof. All opinions are still my own.