Friday, August 31, 2012


Out of the blue, with no previous incidents, reporter Catherine O’Rourke suddenly starts having visions connected to The Avenger of Blood, a vigilante killer terrorising the community of Virginia Beach.  Hoping to aid the Police investigation, Catherine shares her visions with the detectives working the case, but knowing sensitive details the Police wilfully kept from the public, Catherine’s good intentions turn on her when she becomes the main suspect. 

Catherine staunchly proclaims her innocence, but then DNA evidence links her to the crimes and Catherine is arrested.  Convinced someone is framing her, Catherine appoints two of the most lethal attorneys to fight her case: Marc Boland and Quinn Newberg. 

Unable to ignore the mountain of evidence against Catherine, Quinn cannot believe that Catherine is as innocent as she claims.  He believes she must have committed the crimes, even if she doesn’t realise it.  Quinn starts building a case of not guilty by reason of insanity, convinced that Catherine suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder.

At first unable and unwilling to believe any side of her could be capable of committing such heinous crimes, Catherine refuses to plead insanity and admit guilt; but when prison life starts triggering a side of Catherine she didn’t know she was capable of, and evidence against her stacks up, she finally starts wondering if Quinn might be right.  Does she have a split personality?  Is she The Avenger of Blood?  Or is the truth something that seems truly crazy?  Could God be using her?  Is God giving her these visions in order to right the wrongs?  And if so, how could she possibly prove it?

Randy Singer’s By Reason of Insanity follows both Catherine and Quinn as they try to make sense of Catherine’s visions. Throughout the novel Singer explores the many possible explanations why people could see visions.  We look at possible religious explanations, scientific explanations and psychological explanations.  The reader also learns the fundamentals of the insanity plea, and the more mundane issues lawyers have to deal with from day to day.  In his writing Singer gives the reader a very realistic look at the life of a lawyer.

As in The Last Plea Bargain, Singer’s personal legal experience give his courtroom scenes such a level of authenticity, you almost believe it’s all real.  Surprisingly Singer does a wonderful job portraying female characters; he manages to go deeper than most male authors who only touch on the superficial.  I actually cried through several of Catherine’s musings – this woman convinced of her innocence is believed by no one, and trusted colleagues and lifelong friends turn their backs on her.  Desolate and depressed, starting to wonder if she might actually be crazy, Catherine’s character is quite intense and wonderfully believable.  Every time Catherine was betrayed, I took it personally.  Great writers make you invested in the characters, and Singer does this very well.

What makes Singer’s work special is that he never slips up; he keeps the reader guessing until the very end.  I have only read two of his books to date, but I have come to appreciate that he is masterful at twists.  Having read my fair share of books, I usually see the “twist” coming (much to my dismay), but Singer manages to surprise me every time.  Reading one of Singer’s books is a journey - emotionally and intellectually. 

By Reason of Insanity is a very suspenseful read, keeping the reader hooked, invested and guessing until the very end.  Definitely worth the read.

Product information:
Title: By reason of Insanity

Author: Randy Singer

Number of pages: 400
Publisher: Tyndale House
Year: 2008
ISBN-10: 1414315473
ISBN-13: 978-1414315478 

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