Fresh Blood

Name: Sebastian Fitzek

Title of Book: Therapy

'A brilliant combination of electric writing and an astounding story...'

Dr. Viktor Larenz has taken himself away to the island of Parkum four years after his daughter disappeared from a doctor’s surgery. Josy, who was only twelve at the time she went missing, had been inexplicably ill for many months and this doctor was the next in a long line of practitioners. However, Josy vanished and was never seen again. Now, with the tail end of a hurricane battering the island’s shores and dark thunderous clouds gathering overhead, the nightmare is about to be re-lived all over again.

A woman turns up saying she is Anna Glass and in need of therapy for her schizophrenia. She is a writer and claims that when she begins to write about her characters, they come to life. Recently she has been writing about a young girl who has disappeared during a long illness nobody could cure. Believing he could finally find out the truth about his daughter, Dr. Larenz impatiently follows the woman down the paths of her damaged mind in the hope that the truth about Josy will be waiting for him. However, the path he takes with Anna is treacherous and full of dangers. When the truth is finally revealed, it could be the end of the good doctor himself...

Therapy is an extraordinary thriller that utterly compels you to fly through the pages at the rate of knots. Why? A brilliant combination of electric writing and an astounding story are the two simple reasons this book was so compelling. The author elegantly takes us from the moment of Josy’s disappearance to a point four years later - leading to the ‘moment of truth’, and then to the present day in a psychosomatic clinic. The book constantly keeps you on your toes and the reader slowly absorbs all the information given in order to see the puzzle slotting into place. We begin to learn about Anna Glass through her ‘therapy sessions’ with Viktor and her association with his daughter, Josy.

Therapy tells a sad little tale, but one that is gripping to the last page. Not being able to sleep and thinking about how the story would develop, I found myself having to stop reading this gem of a thriller at four in the morning because the hairs on the back of my neck just wouldn’t stop standing on end!

The writer has a marvellous way with words and brings the small community of Parkum into stark reality. One can almost feel the wind beating at the door and the thick foreboding clouds gathering overhead. ‘Therapy’ reminded me of vintage Stephen King when he eloquently describes the claustrophobic village turning in on itself and its inhabitants. Therapy is a wonderful little conundrum - with plenty of twists and double bluffs right up to the end. This is Fitzek’s first novel to be translated. Let us hope it will not be too long before we are treated to more from this stunning writer.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) How would you classify your writing, and do you consciously try to write to a certain style or genre?
I am addicted to thrillers, I read at least one a week, so this also is my favorite genre in writing. I´ve never thought about my style. I just wanted to write exiting books I would like to read myself - hoping I´d not stay the only reader. Nonetheless I have some preferences - I love mysterious "what-if" scenarios (like the beginning of "Therapy" where a sick girl dissapears in a crowded doctor's office and everybody tells the father she had never even been there), but I want a logical explanation at the end. I love short chapters, where one must continue reading to find out how the story will continue. And I always try finding a surprising and completely unexpected end.
2) What type of crime novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalone?
I like to read standalones. I am interested in totally exceptional situations that change the life and thoughts of the protagonists. At the end of a good Thriller, the main character must be at the end of an incredible journey. Mostly he has to manage a great inner conflict. That is good for him, but bad for the reader, since then the figure is not as exciting afterwards. At least, not for a sequel. I then prefer to read a completely new story. There are also magnificent exceptions, such as the books about Hannibal Lector.
3) The subject of a missing and possibly murdered child is horrific. How did you deal with this when writing Therapy?
As an author, you are always somewhat schizophrenic. I enter the thoughts and emotional world of each character. What shocks me sometimes is that I can do that best with the evil ones...
4) Writing from the perspective of a psychologist must have been daunting as Viktor has several sessions with Anna Glass. Have you had any training in psychology or did you seek professional advice to make the therapy sessions authentic?
In my job as program director of a radio station I deal with a lot of strange people every day. My meetings with renowned radio personalities and creative writers have sometimes felt like psychological counselling! This probably awakened my interest in people's sometimes strange minds and the psyche. But I´m also lucky that several psychologists and psychiatrists are my friends - and my brother is a chief physician in a psychiatric hospital. I therefore have direct access to these sources.
5) The island of Parkum plays an integral part of the plot. Have you ever experienced an island that felt as claustrophobic as Parkum, or is it based on a real place?
An island, isolated from the mainland by a storm is always somewhat claustrophobic, especially when it is a very small one. Unfortunately I have not had the pleasure to have gruelling conversations in a lonely beach house by the sea. But, believe it or not, as long as it is not raining through the roof, a nice fireplace is my idea of comfort. Parkum in "Therapy" is not a real place, rather a "best of" all popular Northsea Islands.
6) Therapy knocked off The Da Vinci Code from the no.1 spot in Germany. How did that make you feel?
My first thought was - this is a computer error and the publisher will call me to apologise. Even the publisher was speechless, for our marketing budget was zero Euros and it only sold so well because people started talking about the book. To this day I do not know how this could happen.
7) This is your first book. Have you always written, and how difficult was it to get the book as seen to the stage where you were happy with the finished product?
I never wanted to be an author but I have always liked telling stories. When I started writing, I only wanted to write down an idea I had in my head. I had no idea how difficult it would be to get a book published. Fortunately I didnt know, otherwise I would have perhaps never tried. And I didn´t know that the first draft is always crap, and that working on the book never stops. The director Roland Emmerich once said: We are never finished with a project, we can just let go. "Therapy" I let go of after seven revisions...
8) Without giving away the plot, which book - yours or by another author - included your favourite plot twist of all time?
Honestly, right now Im working on a book with the most amazing twist in the end that I have ever thought of. But I think that whenever I start!

Most books I read have no all-changing twists at the end. Therefore, I prefer films when thinking about good twists. Like Angel Heart or, of course, The Sixth Sense.
9) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
I think it was Billy Wilder who said that only a bad novel can be turned into a good movie adaption. "The Silence of the Lambs" is clearly an exception to this rule. Both book and film are masterpieces.
10) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction fan in general and, if so, which authors do you most admire and why?
There are an infinite number of authors who inspire me, but they are always different. Formerly I have devoured everything by Stephen King, and lately its thrillers by Grisham, Crichton, Deaver.... At the moment I love the stories of Dennis Lehane and Harlan Coben. But this list is terribly unfair, because there are thousands of other talents and I can't name them all.
11) What is your favourite read crime of all time?
Hopefully a book that has yet to be written. Otherwise my time would have already come to an end - or the future would be paved with boring books!