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When She Was Bad - Book Review

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by TheOnlyFiona (subscribe)
In real life, I do discuss food exactly like how I write in my food review articles. As always my food reviews are scored only on what I've tried and the service expected of that type of establishment.
Published March 7th 2013
Bonnie and Clyde meets United States of Tara
"Multiples in love. Think of the possibilities". When She Was Bad

Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. They meet again but it's not the same boy and girl. Hint: both have multiple personalities or dissociative identity disorder (DID). Bad news is each of them have a psychopathic alter ego (alter), sparks fly when this boy meets this girl. Murderous onslaught ensues.

Hot on their heels are old friends: E.L. Pender and psychiatrist Dr. Irene Cogan. A leading expert in DID, Irene has been treating Lily deVries since she developed DID. Meanwhile Pender seeks to even the score with Ulysses Maxwell. Pender regrets having not finished Maxwell off three years ago, when Maxwell's psychopathic alter's killing spree almost cost Irene her life. They fear the worst for Lily as Maxwell is set on escaping death row and cold-blooded revenge.

I picked up this novel without realising it was a part of a series nor have I read its direct prequel, The Girls He Adored. As a standalone novel, When She Was Bad works. The strong supporting characters also provide insight into Lily and Maxwell. Dr. Alan Cordor, a psychiatrist keen on using controversial therapies to cure DID at Reed-Chase mental institution has an over involved pseudo-father-son relationship with Maxwell. Whilst Mama Rose, the biker gang matriarch proves an unlikely ally.

The characters have rich back stories and the use of DID framing our two killers provides a distinct psychological edge. The novel offers this unique dynamic with good characterisation of the alters. As a study in psychology it provides discussion over what constitutes an alter. Whether these separate consciousnesses can be merged, or separated and destroyed. It also raises the question of what it means to be the original alter or more importantly who is the original alter/actual person.

The constant shifting of the alters offers drive to the story. Situations change with the alter switch. Every switch, changes the game. The relationship between Lily and Maxwell constantly evolves, sometimes humorous other times scary. From murderer and accomplice to lover to predator and prey, each character's role is ever changing no matter if it is Lily, Lilith, Lilah, or Lyssy, Max, or Kinch behind the driving wheel.

When She Was Bad is more psychological thriller than murder-victim driven crime story. The different alters are distinctively drawn and character/alter development is an interesting prospect. The psychological implications for the DID killers are interesting with the ending slightly saddening but somewhat inevitable given the circumstances.

When She Was Bad provides insights to how traumatic the alter switches can be for the affected characters. The far reaching complications that arise make the novel adept at questioning various psychological ideas about identity and resulting criminal implications. A satisfying read for those who want some more depth to their crime fiction.
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Why? Interesting read.
Your Comment
Sounds like a fascinating read!
by Jennifer Muirhead (score: 3|1053) 2054 days ago
The girls he adored is a fantastic book. I read it years ago and the themes explored still haunt me to this day. It is a dark and compelling insight into the mind(s) of a deeply traumatized serial killer with DID. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Maxwell and wish for his redemption. I definitely recommend reading it!
by jessi (score: 0|8) 2051 days ago
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