Title: Bad Karma
Author: Douglas Clegg
Published by: Alkemara Press
Publication date: May 1st 1997
Trey Campbell works at Darden State Hospital as a psychiatrist to the mentally insane and he’s taking a well deserved vacation when Agnes Hatcher, one seriously disturbed individual, escapes from her confinement and tries to track down her one true love – from a previous life.
First off, I really enjoyed this tale as it was unique in plot and an enjoyable – easy to read – thriller. It jus goes to show that things don’t need to be overly complicated in order to enjoy them. It’s not your standard psychiatrist in a mental asylum style novel as the main character Trey is away from his workplace on vacation when all the nasty stuff happens; which makes for a refreshing chance of pace. Trey, his wife Carly and their two children, Teresa and Mark are taking a family vacation where Trey wrestles with a mixture of waiting to resign from his stressful job at Darden State and a feeling of workaholic duty – this conflict is only deepened when events from his past working life at Darden are revealed throughout the novels pages working alongside current events. I did find some confusion in the passages that switched between modern day and the past as the formatting was a little off in the version I had with some of the passages being in italics and switching randomly back to normal formatting before the ‘flashbacks’ had concluded.
The chapters of this book are incredibly short too, which I actually enjoyed as it helped to keep the pages turning and the fact that I finished the book within a couple of days of starting was aided by this factor as much as the enjoyment of the story.
Bad Karma isn’t a book for the faint hearted as it involves scene of a violent nature; which I also enjoyed as they were well described without being overly graphic and over the top.
Trey as a lead character was a little one dimensional and I am looking forward to seeing him develop in further offerings of The Criminally Insane series of which Bad Karma is a part of; as I enjoyed this book enough to add the future instalments to my reading list when I’ve waded through some more books on my list.
It’s not all good news for Bad Karma though. There were some things that I found a little strange about Trey and Carlys actions. Considering this is the first family holiday that they have had in some years, they seem to spend very little time together as a family. Trey and Carly dump their children on a local babysitter, Jenny (Who by all accounts is terrible at her job) and go off enjoying themselves. Do families really do this to their children? I also found the references to Jack the Ripper a little jarring, as though the author latched onto a famous serial-killer and applied him to the psychotic mind of Agnes Hatcher for some sense of ‘shock value’ as it didn’t seem to tie in too well with the rest of the plot.
Agnes Hatcher herself was intriguing to read about, but also somewhat confusing in places as mentioned above. She also seemed to adapt to life outside Darden State Hospital easily – we’re told about her mental faculties within the book – but I do find it somewhat incredulous that she would adapt so quickly to being free after having been restrained for so long within the hospital with her face covered. How easily can someone observe when one of their primary senses is restricted for so long?
The plot itself was fine and had enough twists in it that the reader could figure out a few pages ahead of it happening. It didn’t leave me guessing or taking me down a wrong track with my thoughts and didn’t take much brain power to work out – which is fine by me! Sometimes it’s nice to read something that’s easy on the brain department and at the time of reading was just what I needed!
It’s a good book and I certainly won’t be dismissing other books written by Douglas Clegg especially as Bad Karma is one of his earlier publications and I enjoyed the book despite my misgivings.