by Michael J. Molloy
Published By: Gypsy Shadow Publishing, 2015
ISBN: 13: 978-1619502758
Review copy sent by author
Review by Ida Vega-Landow
It’s been said by the philosopher George Santayana that “those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. I think that saying should be amended to “those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it”. Such is the case with Professor Roger Lavoie, the central character of this new suspense novel by Michael Malloy, whose previous novel, “The Diamond Man”, gave us a look at love and baseball. Now branching out from romance to suspense, Mr. Malloy has given us a study of one man’s slow descent into madness as events from his past repeat themselves in the present.
Madness starts to take its toll on Professor Lavoie from the day that he is acquitted of murdering his wife’s lover, thanks to his lawyer’s legal finagling and the failure of the Assistant District Attorney to prepare her case against him properly. As the victim’s sister screams hysterically from the gallery, Roger is glad-handing his lawyer for getting him off, while the ADA and her staff huddle together muttering about how a conviction should have been a sure thing and the failure of the jury to realize just how evil the defendant is. Meanwhile, Roger’s sister-in-law, Siobhan O’Mara, with whom he was having the affair that drove his wife into another’s arms, leaves the courtroom in some chagrin, realizing that Roger will never be hers now, even though her sister is now in a mental hospital after the nervous breakdown brought on by receiving parts of her murdered lover in the mail, in beautifully wrapped boxes. Of course, he was acquitted of that too.
Since the past is prologue, we now fast-forward twenty years to the present, where we find Roger waking up from a nightmare shouting “No! I did not kill Darren Haber!” He’s lying next to his current wife, Beth, who comforts him as she’s done so often before. Beth is a kind, sensible woman, who works as a nursing administrator at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, where the story is set. This isn’t the first time he’s had this nightmare; Beth has become so concerned about him that she urges him to see this psychiatrist one of her friends recommended. As anxious to please her as he is to avoid discussing his past too deeply, Roger agrees to see Dr. Mort Sonnenstein. The good doctor, who reminds me of Billy Crystal’s character in “Analyze This”, finds himself in a similar predicament when his new patient proves less than forthcoming about his past and insists upon discussing his anxiety over his only son instead. The young man has both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree, which do him little good at his job at Best Buy. He wants to be a professor like his father, and Daddy Dearest is trying to pull strings with the head of Winston University, where he works, to get his son on the staff. What little he is willing to tell about his former wife Margaret makes the good doctor curious about how and why she snapped and wound up in a mental hospital. That’s when he decides to start digging into Roger’s past, unknowingly contributing to his descent into madness.
Meanwhile, Roger’s son Mark (who was only seven when his mother folded and believes everything his dad told him about her) does his bit to bring about his father’s downfall by falling in love with a woman on the rebound. Beautiful Rebecca Dyer, still getting over her breakup with her boyfriend, Logan Galwyn, meets Roger at a party his father throws for him to celebrate his new job at the university. It doesn’t take long for the two young people to hook up. Their one-night stand turns into a passionate relationship, which eventually leads to marriage. But even on her wedding day, Rebecca is still thinking about Logan. That should have raised a red flag, warning her that this marriage was a mistake. But she convinces herself to go through with the wedding, sure that she’ll get over Logan once and for all once she settles down with Mark. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. After a beautiful wedding in August, a visit to a farmer’s market in April results in an accidental meeting with her former lover. Once their eyes meet over the asparagus, it isn’t long before their bodies do too.
It doesn’t take long for Mark to discover his wife’s infidelity, thanks to a clumsy mistake on her part. After a loud, ugly altercation, Rebecca runs home to her mother while Mark runs off to his father for sympathy. And he gets it too, with a vengeance. Daddy Dearest starts getting flashbacks of his own wife’s infidelity and decides to defend the sanctity of his son’s marriage by eliminating the source of his unhappiness, which is Logan Galwyn. After Logan disappears mysteriously, baffling Rebecca when he doesn’t show up for their usual rendezvous, she receives a beautiful gift-wrapped package at her office which contains a hearty reminder of why you shouldn’t cheat on the son of a murderer. The local police get involved and start digging up Roger’s past, while he’s digging up parts of Logan to send Rebecca as punishment for cheating on his son.
Meanwhile, Roger’s former sister-in-law and lover Siobhan is busy dealing with some blowback of her own as an ambitious young reporter digs up an unsavory detail about her past, having to do with her sister’s trust fund and how it ended up in Siobhan’s pocket instead of her nephew’s. Since violence runs in this family (Hell, it gallops like Seabiscuit!), you know it’s only a matter of time before that poor reporter gal suffers the wrath of Siobhan. Her death is quick and merciful compared to the way Logan must have died. I’m only speculating, but a man who likes to murder adulterers and cut them to pieces probably doesn’t finish them off quickly. The end comes fast and furious when the cops finally track down Roger as he’s taunting Rebecca with moldering pieces of her murdered lover at the edge of a cliff, high above the Providence River. Who ends up going over the edge? Go buy “Sadistic Pattern” and find out! It starts slowly, but it ends with a gruesome twist, like a knot in a hangman’s noose.