The Deceiver: A Claire Roget Mystery

Priscilla Masters. Severn, $28.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7278-8752-8

British author Masters’s plodding second Claire Roget mystery (after 2016’s Dangerous Minds) finds the forensic psychiatrist working at the Greatbach Secure Psychiatric Hospital in Stoke-on-Trent, where she’s evaluating the emotional state of two criminals. The first, mild-mannered Arthur Connolly, has, after decades of bullying by his wife, lost control and stabbed her with a kitchen knife. The other, Riley Finch, is a narcissistic sociopath who has stolen a newborn baby. While reviewing these cases, she gets a call from obstetrician Charles Tissot, insisting that she assess the stability of 27-year-old Heather Krimble, who’s claiming that he’s the father of her unborn child. Charles essentially wants Claire to declare Heather certifiably mad. Claire assesses the patient, and then a psychologist basically reiterates Claire’s diagnosis. Others weigh in without adding much new information. Readers will easily figure out the terrible secret surrounding the father of Heather’s child. Masters does, however, nicely braid together Claire’s three cases in the book’s resolution. This one’s for those who care more about talk than action. [em](Feb.) [/em]