Title: Involuntary Admissions
Author: D. R Markham
Published by: Independently published
Publication date: 18th Jan 2019
Fifteen-year-old Kendra Sibley is suicidal. Her frantic mother, Helen admits her to a posh psychiatric hospital near Philadelphia. They both quickly discover that instead of getting her the help she needs, they have placed her in harm’s way. Helen reaches out to her best friend and journalist/writer, Madison Blythe, Kendra’s godmother. Madison and Kendra are soon pitted against the controlling and corrupt Dr. Victor Aiken, putting both their lives at risk. Can Madison use her resourcefulness to save both of them before Aiken’s Haven becomes their final resting place?
I was approached by D. R. Markham via Twitter, recommending their book to me. Upon reading the synopsis I agreed that it sounded like my sort of book and purchased a copy for my kindle, via Amazon. So many thanks to author D. R. Markham for the recommendation.
Involuntary Admissions is a medical thriller novel with a heavy focus on mental health. The main dynamic plot focus is on abuse of power in both the main plot and each of the characters backstories – in one way or another.
The story starts with Helen Sibley talking with her teenage daughter and taking her to get some help with her suicidal depression. Where she is quickly assessed as a risk to herself and others and admitted into Aikens Hospital, a state of the art hospital set up to help adolescents with all manner of mental disorders. She signs her daughter, Kendra, over as quickly as she was diagnosed with her suicidal thoughts assuming that she is doing what is right for her daughter. Things quickly take a turn for the worst when she realises that she has signed papers for experimental treatments to be involved with Kendras recovery.
As the plot progresses we’re introduced to additional characters, Madison Blythe who becomes a central character in unlocking the secrets of Aikens Hospital as well as Victor Aiken the CEO (among other fancy titles) of the mental hospital. As previously mentioned abuse runs rife throughout the book from the top of the hierarchy of Aikens Hospital all the way down to it’s nurses and aides. There is a distinct lack of kindness and caring in the setting which makes for a tense and rough read.
The backstories of the characters are no exception to this observation; Victor Aiken has a tragic backstory himself which makes his obsessions with his experimental drug somewhat understandable; but not excusable. He is a complex character whose story I found more beguiling than the main characters – it felt as though the author had put more thought into the antagonist of the story than the rest of the protagonists put together. He felt deeper and more complex than the rest of the cast, his back story richer. He was the driving force behind the story and I felt myself more entertained by the chapters which involved him. He was the key to unlocking the books mysteries, be it through his perspective or being spoken of by his childhood friend and co-worker; Jesse. The backstories are presented as a series of flashbacks within the present story chapters; focusing mostly on Victor Aiken and Madison Blythe – they are well written and give a developed insight to not only their histories but also their individual motivations. Sadly these two characters are so well developed they tend to make the other characters a secondary consideration. I didn’t feel as well connected with Kendra throughout the story as I did with Madison and considering the plot is meant to focus on the dangerous situation in which Kendra is thrust into, I found her lacking development of her own.
There was a real feeling of threat and lack of personal control with the book and I found the idea of Aikens Haven as a place simply terrifying. Not being in control of the medication being administered and surrendering completely to people who certainly don’t seem to have their patients best interests at heart. This is an aspect of the book that was really well handled. The contrast between some of the nurses and their level of care spoke volumes.
I did get a feeling that the book was a little rushed – not because the story was fast paced, I found the pace of the novel helped add to the sense of urgency – but because it was in need of another good going over with a comb in regards to some of the spelling and/or typos. When I came across them they were minor niggles that sadly added up and impacted my overall enjoyment of another wise decent book. I think there could have been a bit more research into mental health to make Kendras initial admission to Aikens Haven as believable as the rest of the book was, but these are minor issues with a book I otherwise enjoyed reading.
A fast-paced medical thriller containing detailed back stories and a handful of rich, enjoyable characters. With a little more research and refinement this could be a stand-out novel but as it is it’s an enjoyable, captivating read.