Troubled forensic psychiatrist wrestles with child abuse case

Willie Campbell reviews This I Would Kill For by Anne Buist. Published by Text Publishing.

Natalie King, forensic psychiatrist, emerges from the pen of Anne Buist, in her third incarnation.

Natalie is a somewhat surprising heroine; challenged by serious mental-health issues herself, pregnant with a child of one of her regular lovers, permitted to work only under close supervision.

Her personal life is in some tumult, as ex-wives seek her, journalists play critic, family challenge her lifestyle. Even Bob, her pet cockatoo is not as easy to live with as he might be. Her nightmares distress her and the tension between her need for medication and her pregnancy is ever present.

Buist uses her own professional knowledge to present a highly-charged situation of suspected child abuse, differing cultural norms in raising children and relationships between the range of professionals involved. Adding depth to the mix are suspect business deals between both Natalie's family and that of the children for whom she is employed as an expert witness.

There is highly insightful and succinctly presented description and explanation of the pitfalls in such a case, where supporting a suspected abuser may result in a dangerous custody decision. The interweaving of individual characters, their fears and motivations and their strategies to gain the results they seek makes for suspenseful and compelling reading.

Natalie King continues to be enmeshed in dramatic circumstances both professionally and personally. Buist paints a rich tapestry of characters for King to relate to, yet holds her as the central figure.

King's frequent reflections on her work strengthen both the characters and the tension in the circumstances. There is some level of final resolution.

A book for the adventurous reader.

Willie Campbell is a Dunedin educator


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