Twisted by Andrew E. Kaufman

A review of the psychological crime thriller novel Twisted by Andrew E. Kaufman.

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Twisted is a psychological thriller that focuses on a doctor trying to find the truth about a convicted child killer. Set in Loveland Psychiatric Hospital, Christopher Kellan has one week to complete a court-ordered evaluation on Donny Ray Smith, to decide if he is actually insane, and the story follows Kellan’s investigation into Smith.

At the end of the initial interview, Smith makes a comment that plays on Kellan’s mind and leads him to believe he has met Smith before. After this, strange things start to happen: people start disappearing and colleagues act out of character. Is Kellan losing his mind or is there some sort of conspiracy going on at Loveland? And does a multiple child murderer really know him?

The book starts with a stark and quite uncomfortable description of the hospital.

Dead bolts.

Steel bars.

Metal slamming against metal.

But it’s not just the sights and sounds: it’s the smell, a musty hybrid of human waste and perspiration.

The stench of insanity.

Kaufman goes on to describe a unit where the worst of the worst are housed; the murderers and rapists. It did remind me of the secure wing from Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal Lector was kept, but that was just a coincidence, I’m sure.

The unit is populated by some odd characters, and Kaufman describes some of the nicknames given to these criminals, along with their crimes.

The Husker – a moniker he earned because killing his victims wasn’t enough. Gerald also degloved them, separating their skin with near-surgical precision.

Again, somewhat reminiscent of Silence of the Lambs. As the story continues, the reader learns more about Kellan, his personal life, and the people around him. Kellan starts off likeable enough, although slightly boring, but soon he descends into paranoia and madness.

Unfortunately, the supporting cast are very two-dimensional and bland. Kellan’s journey is explained well but by about halfway through the book I had guessed what was going on so felt the rest was sort of unnecessary. I don’t want to spoil it too much (Spoiler alert!) but before I figured out what was going on there were many elements of M. Night Shylamalan’s The Sixth Sense, along with the Hannibal Lector vibe, and some crossovers with Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane.

Although not a bad book, I would not consider it a good book either. I felt misled by the blurb and felt it did not represent the actual story.

Cassidy grew up in Thanet and lives here with her family.

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