ARC Review: A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Title: A Deadly Affection (Dr. Genevieve Summerford Mystery #1)
Author: Cuyler Overholt
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Release date: September 6th, 2016

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In 1907 New York, a psychiatrist must prove her patient’s innocence…or risk being implicated in a shocking murder

As one of the first women practicing in an advanced new field of psychology, Dr. Genevieve Summerford is used to forging her own path. But when one of her patients is arrested for murder-a murder Genevieve fears she may have unwittingly provoked-she is forced to seek help from an old acquaintance.

Desperate to clear her patient’s name and relieve her own guilty conscience, Genevieve finds herself breaking all the rules she’s tried so hard to live by. In her search for answers, Genevieve uncovers an astonishing secret that, should she reveal it, could spell disaster for those she cares about most. But if she lets her discovery remain hidden, she will almost certainly condemn her patient to the electric chair.

This book introduces a slow paced mystery with an array of complex characters set in the fascinating New York of 1907. Sadly, despite the characters being quite realistic, I never really warmed up to any of them and I felt like the mystery was unremarkable. I did enjoy the writing and I was impressed with how fleshed out the characters got to be, but in the end, there was something missing for me. I would recommend it to anyone interested in mysteries with character development and with a medical focus.

The writing in this novel was very enjoyable and descriptive enough for me to imagine the atmosphere of New York and its people. I was especially pleased by how distinct were the characters. They all had their strengths, flaws, and their own understandable motivations, but maybe one of the reasons I never quite loved any of them was by how dismissive they were of our main character, Genevieve, who I was rooting for.

For Genevieve, the case in the book was much more than a mystery. Her reputation and the life of an innocent person were in the balance. It was interesting to see her grow and I admired how persistent she was, despite having everyone against her. One thing that bothered me was that her growth stemmed from her love insterest and her relationship with her father. That, along with her subdued behavior among peers, made it feel like like she was always trying to prove her worth to men, instead of doing it for her own sake. She lacked confidence and, instead of trusting her expertise, she based her case and many of her actions on hunches. This made her reckless and I tended to doubt her many times.

The themes of women in science (which I seem to be very fond of lately) and the stigma and disbelief surrounding psychology were nicely handled, showing how Genevieve suffered discrimination and condescension from peers and even family for wanting to persue her research and for being a woman in the field. I loved the medical aspect of the novel, it was probably my favorite part of it all, especially how the author showed the initial stages of psychotherapy, group thearapy, and some disorders.

As for the mystery itself, I felt like it didn’t have enough suspects or clues for the novel to be so lengthy. Because of that, the plot dragged and it’s hard to believe that it all took place in less than a week. Even so, and despite the overdone tropes used as underwhelming plot twists, I was curious enough to keep turning the pages and was satisfied with the ending.

Overall, A Deadly Affection is a mystery surrounded by fleshed out characters that touches a lot of interesting themes, such as guilt, grief, justice, and confidence. It might have not being a hit for me, but it was an enjoyable enough novel for a few lazy afternoons.

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