cover image The Session

The Session

Judith Kelman, . . Berkley, $24.95 (359pp) ISBN 978-0-425-20556-3

P.J.—"Poor Julia"—Lafferty is a therapist on Riker's Island who carries her parents' early deaths in a car crash like a wound. When she okays a jailhouse mock wedding and the bride is murdered, she loses her job and struggles to get a private practice going with patients from hell. As P.J. works in her spare time to solve the murder, Kelman exuberantly rolls out a catalogue of horrors for her to confront, including the dead bride's ex-husband's mutilation of his son, with whom P.J. has grown close. The book has something of a split personality, as Kelman loudly forecasts multiple happy endings while Julia endures trial after trial: the slaughter of a baby goat at the zoo, the murder of the nice old man who was helping her solve the mystery, her own kidnapping and knife wounds. If good things really do come to those who wait, Julia will reunite with her cuddly ex-husband, assistant district attorney Rafe Lafferty; reconcile with her deaf twin, Caitlyn Goldstein, a famous children's author; rescue her mentally ill brother, Jack—and even unmask the priest whose molestation of Jack led to the fatal crash. Poor Julia, stuck with a cartoon supporting cast and layers of ugliness in lieu of plot. (Jan. 3)