The Things We Do by Kay Pfaltz
|The Things We Do by Kay Pfaltz|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A tense psychological thriller which touches on some hard truths. It's not easy reading, but there are facts here which everyone should know. Recommended.|
|Pages: 510||Date: June 2017|
|Publisher: Arcadia Roseland|
It's 2015 and Dr Eleanor Hartley is a prison psychologist at the state penitentiary and she knows that her next patient is not going to be easy. 'Jane Doe' has been convicted of the murder of two men - one a police officer. She pleaded guilty and since then has been silent: even her identity is in doubt. She was carrying identification as Jane Dunlap when she was arrested, but it's been proved to be false. There seem to be no family or friends who are missing her. Eleanor's task is to get Jane talking, to find out why a seemingly normal young woman would murder two men.
The head of the prison, Helen Huffington, knows that Eleanor is the best therapist she has: she values her professionalism and the distance she's able to maintain between herself and those around her. Whilst this might be an advantage at work, Hartley is unable to take a different approach in her personal life and her marriage is suffering as a result. Lewis is having an affair with her best friend, Cory, but she has difficulty even being upset about it.
Whilst this would make a very good basis for a book in itself, Kay Pfaltz has taken as the core of her story something very different and altogether more worrying. A policeman, Nick Dracas, has been driving around animal shelters offering to 'adopt' dogs which have been there for a long time, which are likely to be euthanized. Only the dogs were not going to a good home - they were being sold to a laboratory which tests products on animals. One shelter had its suspicions about Dracas and in 2014 asked an animal activist, Sylvie Marshall to go undercover at a local laboratory to gather evidence. They gave her a false identity.
If you're planning on reading this book - and I really think you should - you need to know that this isn't an easy read. I was in tears on several occasions and I suspect that it's not only someone who is as notoriously soft-hearted about dogs as I am who would be similarly affected. I am ashamed about what we do to animals in the name of science, with seemingly little benefit to the human race. I've now taken to checking what I buy very carefully.
This makes the book sound rather worthy and it's a great deal better than that. There's a damned good story here, peopled with characters who stay in your mind, from the prisoners in the penitentiary through to the animals imprisoned in the laboratory. The plotting is exceptional: it's only when you've turned the final page that you realise quite how carefully it's been constructed, how one set of circumstances highlights another, how it all knits together. If I had to be very picky, I would say that the book would have been better if the ending had been different, but I'm also grateful that it wasn't. I'll leave you to work that one out for yourself!
The Things We Do is set in the USA. I wish I could say that it would be different elsewhere, but I cannot and I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.
If this book appeals to you then you might also enjoy The Resistance by Gemma Malley.
Kay Pfaltz donates all proceeds from her books to animal welfare organisations.
You can read more about Kay Pfaltz here.
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