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The Madman's Tale

The Madman's Tale

4.4 25
by John Katzenbach

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It’s been twenty years since Western State Hospital was closed down and the last of its inmates reintegrated into society. Francis Petrel was barely out of his teens when his family committed him to the asylum, after his erratic behavior culminated in a terrifying outburst. Now middle-aged, he leads an aimless, solitary life housed in a cheap apartment,


It’s been twenty years since Western State Hospital was closed down and the last of its inmates reintegrated into society. Francis Petrel was barely out of his teens when his family committed him to the asylum, after his erratic behavior culminated in a terrifying outburst. Now middle-aged, he leads an aimless, solitary life housed in a cheap apartment, periodically tended to by his sisters, and perpetually medicated to quiet the chorus of voices in his head. But a reunion on the grounds of the shuttered institution stirs something deep in Francis’s troubled mind: dark memories he thought he had laid to rest, about the grisly events that led to Western State Hospital’s demise.

It begins in 1979, when twenty-one-year-old Petrel descends into the state-run purgatory of an overcrowded, understaffed Massachusetts mental hospital. Surrounded by inmates roaming the halls like drugged zombies and raving behind locked doors, well-meaning orderlies, jaded nurses, and patronizing doctors, Francis finds friendship with a motley assortment of fellow patients: a would-be Napoleon, a wise ex-firefighter, and a man obsessed with battling imagined devils. But there’s nothing imaginary about the young nurse found sexually assaulted and brutally murdered late one night after lights-out.

The police suspect an inmate, while patients whisper about visions of a white-shrouded “angel.” But the striking and mysterious prosecuting attorney who arrives to investigate has her own chilling theory—about the grim, telltale “signature” left on the victim’s body, a string of unsolved sex killings, and a very real devil who, by chance or design, has come to turn a madhouse into a slaughterhouse.

Now, with the past creeping back to haunt his thoughts, and nothing but a pencil and the bare walls of his bleak apartment, Francis surrenders to the overwhelming need to tell the story of those nightmarish days. But because the crime was never solved, it’s a story doomed to remain unfinished. Until, like Francis’s long-buried recollections, the killer resurfaces . . . with a vengeance.

A tour de force narrative journey through the eerily unpredictable mind of an utterly unusual hero, The Madman’s Tale will keep even the most astute thriller reader uncertain, unnerved, and unable to resist the tantalizing twists and turns of this fiendishly suspenseful shadow show.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Patrick Anderson
If The Madman's Tale is sometimes over the top, why wouldn't it be? It's a tour de force, superior storytelling designed to scare your pants off and likely to succeed.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
The conceit of this impossible-to-put-down thriller-the story of the hunt for a serial killer-rapist who has concealed himself among a psychiatric asylum's insane-is that it was written in pencil by a madman on the walls of his apartment. More than 20 years ago, Francis Xavier Petrel, nicknamed C-Bird for the seabird his name evokes, was confined against his will in the Western State Hospital, a run-down residential mental health facility that rivals Kesey's Cuckoo's Nest for evil administrators and whacked-out inmates. A shy, frightened 21-year-old who endures a cacophony of disembodied voices, C-Bird is befriended by Peter the Fireman, nicknamed for the church he burned down with a pedophile priest still inside. (C-Bird and Peter appear almost normal amid the hospital's other catatonics, manic-depressives, psychopaths and psychotics.) Then they discover the raped and mutilated body of nurse Short Blond (nicknamed for her hair) stuffed into a storage closet. All evidence points to paranoid-schizophrenic inmate Lanky, who earlier in the day had identified Short Blond as an agent of evil, but Lanky claims the killing was the work of an invisible Angel of Death who committed the crime to save them from some unspecified devilish fate. C-Bird and Peter, knowing that Lanky has been unjustly accused, set out to find the real killer. They are joined by state prosecutor Lucy Kyoto Jones, who believes the killer is the same man who has committed other savage crimes beyond the walls of the hospital. Katzenbach (author of the bestsellers Just Cause and The Analyst) delivers an uplifting story of justice, friendship, mystery and, above all, the courage of certain men and women who rise up, no matter the circumstances, to defeat evil, no matter the consequences. (July) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When Francis Petrel, a former inmate of the Western State Hospital, returns for a commemoration, he begins to remember events surrounding the brutal rape and murder of a young nurse 20 years before. At the same time, prosecutor Lucy Jones has arrived to determine whether the nurse's death could be related to several recent killings. Despite the lack of help from hospital authorities, Lucy puts together a team made up of Francis, another inmate, and two orderlies. As his long-suppressed recollections become clearer, Francis goes off his medications and begins hearing voices and maybe having hallucinations. Poised between sanity and madness, he is able to empathize with others, much like a profiler, and begins to understand the killer, placing Lucy and her team in great danger. Katzenbach (The Analyst) is a master of psychological details, making readers believe in Francis's reality, and he maintains a heightened tension that hurtles the reader to the riveting final pages. For every fiction collection. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/04.]-Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Heights-University Heights P.L., OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The hero hears voices, but it's what he sees that makes him special in this serial-killer version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Francis Petrel has heard voices his entire life. They usually offer him sensible advice, but they couldn't stop his family from committing him at 21 to Western State Hospital. Under Dr. "Gulp-a-pill" and Mr. "Evil," Francis faced a long stay and gallons of medication until a series of murders shook things up. Now middle-aged, inoffensive, solitary, and medicated, Francis begins the traumatic process of recalling what he saw at the hospital years ago when a young nurse-in-training was brutally killed. The murder brought Lucy Jones-a spectacularly scarred but of course still beautiful prosecutor with a personal vendetta against rapists and killers of women-to the hospital grounds to investigate. She called upon unobtrusive Francis and another patient, the enigmatic "Peter the Fireman," to help her investigations. A mysterious and sinister "Angel" haunted the grounds, taunting Lucy and killing people as he pleased. Francis explained to Peter and Lucy, the only friends he'd ever had, the inverted rationale of an insane asylum, but they preferred to listen to their own more conventional obsessions-and ended up putting themselves in deadly peril. Katzenbach (The Analyst, 2002, etc.) creates a wonderfully appealing narrator in Francis, more interesting than the conventional damsel, knight, and dragon battle at the heart of his monster flashback. Agent: William Reiss/John Hawkins & Assoc.

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Random House Publishing Group
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chapter 1

I can no longer hear my voices, so I am a little lost. My suspicion is they would know far better how to tell this story. At least they would have opinions and suggestions and definite ideas as to what should go first and what should go last and what should go in the middle. They would inform me when to add detail, when to omit extraneous information, what was important and what was trivial. After so much time slipping past, I am not particularly good at remembering these things myself and could certainly use their help. A great many events took place, and it is hard for me to know precisely where to put what. And sometimes I’m unsure that incidents I clearly remember actually did happen. A memory that seems one instant to be as solid as stone, the next seems as vaporous as a mist above the river. That’s one of the major problems with being crazy: you’re just naturally uncertain about things.

For a long time, I thought it all began with a death and ended with a death, a little like a nice set of bookends, but now I’m less positive. Perhaps what truly put all those moments in motion all those years back when I was young and truly mad was something far smaller or more elusive, like a hidden jealousy or an unseen anger, or much larger and louder, like the positions of the stars in the heavens or the forces of the ocean tides and the inexorable spin of the earth. I do know that some people died, and I was a lucky child not to join them, which was one of the last observations my voices made, before they abruptly disappeared from my side.

Instead, what I get now instead of their whispered words are medications to quiet their noises. Once a day I dutifully take a psychotropic, which is an oval-shaped, eggshell blue pill and which makes my mouth so dry that when I speak I sound like a wheezing old man after too many cigarettes or maybe some parched deserter from the Foreign Legion who has crossed the Sahara and is begging for a drink of water. This is followed immediately by a foul- tasting and bitter mood-elevator to combat the occasional blackhearted and suicidal depression I am constantly being told by my social worker that I am likely to tumble into at just about any minute regardless of how I actually do feel. In truth, I think I could walk into her office and click up my heels in pure joy and exaltation over the positive course of my life, and she would still ask me whether I had taken my daily dosage. This heartless little pill makes me both constipated and bloated with excess water, sort of like having a blood pressure cuff wrapped around my midsection instead of my left arm, and then pumped up tight. So I need to take a diuretic and then a laxative to alleviate these symptoms. Of course, the diuretic gives me a screaming migraine headache, like someone especially cruel and nasty is taking a hammer to my forehead, so there are codeine-laced painkillers to deal with that little side effect as I race to the toilet to resolve the other. And every two weeks I get a powerful antipsychotic agent in a shot by going to the local health clinic and dropping my pants for the nurse there who always smiles in precisely the same fashion and asks me in exactly the same tone of voice how I am that day, to which I reply “Just fine” whether I am or not, because it is pretty obvious to me, even through the various fogs of madness, a little bit of cynicism and drugs, that she doesn’t really give a damn one way or the other, but still considers it part of her job to take note of my reassurance. The problem is the antipsychotic, which prevents me from all sorts of evil or despicable behavior, or so they like to tell me, also gives me a bit of palsy in my hands, making them shake as if I was some nervously dishonest taxpayer confronting an accountant from the IRS. It also makes the corners of my mouth twitch slightly, so I need to take a muscle relaxant to prevent my face from freezing into a permanent scare-the-neighborhood-kids mask. All these concoctions zip around willy-nilly through my veins, assaulting various innocent and probably completely befuddled organs on their way to calming the irresponsible electrical impulses that crackle about in my brain like so many unruly teenagers. Sometimes I feel like my imagination is similar to a wayward domino that has suddenly lost its balance, first teetering back and forth and then tumbling against all the other forces in my body, triggering a great linked chain reaction of pieces haphazardly falling click click click around inside of me.

It was easier, by far, when I was still a young man and all I had to do was listen to the voices. They weren’t even all that bad, most of the time. Usually, they were faint, like fading echoes across a valley, or maybe like whispers you would hear between children sharing secrets in the back of a playroom, although when things grew tense, their volume increased rapidly. And generally, my voices weren’t all that demanding. They were more, well, suggestions. Advice. Probing questions. A little nagging, sometimes, like a spinster great-aunt who no one knows precisely what to do with at a holiday dinner, but is nevertheless included in the festivities and occasionally blurts out something rude or nonsensical or politically incorrect, but is mostly ignored.

In a way, the voices were company, especially at the many times I had no friends.

I did have two friends, once, and they were a part of the story. Once I thought they were the biggest part, but I am no longer so sure.

Now, some of the other people I met during what I like to think of as my truly mad years had it far worse than I. Their voices shouted out orders like so many unseen Marine drill sergeants, the sort that wear those dark brown green wide-brimmed hats perched just above their eyebrows, so that their shaved skulls are visible from the rear. Step lively! Do this! Do that!

Or worse: Kill yourself.

Or even worse: Kill someone else.

The voices that shrieked at those folks came from God or Jesus or Mohammad or the neighbor’s dog or their long-dead great-uncle or extraterrestrials or maybe a chorus of archangels or perhaps a choir of demons. These voices would be insistent and demanding and utterly without compromise and I got so that I could recognize in the tautness that these people would wear in their eyes, the tension that tightened their muscles, that they were hearing something quite loud and insistent, and it rarely promised any good. At moments like those, I would simply walk away, and wait near the entranceway or on the opposite side of the dayroom, because something altogether unfortunate was likely to happen. It was a little like a detail I remembered from grade school, one of those odd facts that stay with you: In the event of an earthquake, the best place to hide is in a doorway, because the arched structure of the opening is architecturally stronger than a wall, and less likely to collapse on your head. So when I saw the turbulence in one of my fellow patients become volcanic, I would find the arch where I thought the best chance of surviving lay. And once there, I could listen to my own voices, which generally seemed to watch out for me, more often than not warning me when to make tracks and hide. They had a curiously self-preservative streak to them, and if I hadn’t been so stupidly obvious in replying out loud to them when I was young and they first joined my side, I probably never would have been diagnosed and shipped off in the first place, as I was. But that is part of the story, although not the greatest part by any means, but still, I miss them in an odd way, for now I am mostly lonely.

It is a very hard thing, in this time of ours, to be mad and middle-aged.

Or ex-mad, as long as I keep taking the pills.

My days are now spent in search of motion. I don’t like to be sedentary for too long. So I walk, fast-paced, a quick march around the town, from parks to shopping areas, to industrial sections, watching and observing, but keeping myself on the move. Or else I seek out events where there is a waterfall of movement in my view, like a high school football or basketball game, or even a youth soccer game. If there is something busy going on in front of me, then I can take a rest. Otherwise, I keep my feet going—five, six, seven or more hours per day. A daily marathon that wears through the soles of my shoes, and keeps me lean and sinewy. In the winter, I beg unwieldy, clunky boots from the Salvation Army. The rest of the year, I wear running shoes that I get from the local sports store. Every few months the owner kindly slides me a pair of some discontinued model, size twelve, to replace the ones that have been sidewalked into tatters upon my feet.

In the early spring, after the first melt-out of ice, I march my way up to the Falls, where there is a fish ladder, and I daily volunteer to monitor the return of salmon to the Connecticut River watershed. This requires me to watch endless gallons of water flow through the dam, and occasionally spot a fish climbing against the current, driven by great instincts to return to where it was itself spawned—where, in that greatest of all mysteries, it will in its own turn, spawn and then die. I admire the salmon, because I can appreciate what it is like to be driven by forces others cannot see or feel or hear and to feel the imperative of a duty that is greater than oneself. Psychotic fish. After years of gallivanting about most pleasantly in the great wide ocean, they hear a mighty fish-voice deep inside them resonating and that insists they head on this impossible journey toward their own death. Perfect. I like to think of the salmon as if they are as mad as I once was. When I see one, I make a pencil notation on a form the state Wildlife Service provides me and sometimes whisper a quiet greeting: Hello, my brother. Welcome to the society of the crazed.

There is a trick to spotting the fish, because they are sleek and silver-sided from their travels in the salt of the ocean so many scores of miles away. It is a shimmering presence in the glistening water, invisible to the uneducated eye, almost as if a ghostly force has entered the small window where I keep watch. I get so I can almost feel the arrival of a salmon before it actually appears at the base of the ladder. It is satisfying to count the fish, even though hours can pass without one arriving and there are never enough of them to please the wildlife folks, who stare at the charts of returnees and shake their heads in frustration. But the benefits of my ability to spot them translates into other advantages. It was my boss at the Wildlife Service who called the local police and informed them I was completely harmless, although I always wondered how he deduced that and have my sincere doubts as to its overall truthfulness. So I am tolerated at the football games and other events, and now, really, if not precisely welcomed in this little, former mill town, at least I am accepted. My routine isn’t questioned, and I am seen less as crazy and more as eccentric, which, I have learned over the years is a safe enough status to maintain.

I live in a small one-bedroom apartment paid for by a state subsidy. My place is furnished in what I call sidewalk-abandoned modern. My clothes come from the Salvation Army or from either of my two younger sisters, who live a couple of towns away, and occasionally, bothered by some odd guilt that I don’t really understand, feel the need to try to do something for me by raiding their husbands’ closets. They purchased me a secondhand television that I seldom watch and a radio I infrequently listen to. Every few weeks they will visit, bringing slightly congealed home-cooked meals in plastic containers and we spend a little time talking together awkwardly, mostly about my elderly parents, who don’t care to see me much anymore, for I am a reminder of lost hopes and the bitterness that life can deliver so unexpectedly. I accept this, and try to keep my distance. My sisters make sure the heat and electric bills are paid. They make certain that I remember to cash the meager checks that arrive from various government aid agencies. They double-check to make absolutely sure that I have taken all my medications. Sometimes they cry, I think, to see how close to despair that I live, but this is their perception, not mine, for, in actuality, I’m pretty comfortable. Being insane gives one an interesting take on life. It certainly makes you more accepting of certain lots that befall you, except for those times when the medications wear a bit thin, and then I can get pretty exercised and angry at the way life has treated me.

But for the most part, I am, if not happy, at least understanding.

And there are some intriguing sidelights to my existence, not the least of which is how much of a student I have become of life in this little town. You would be surprised how much I learn in my daily travels. If I keep my eyes open and ears cocked, I pick up all sorts of little slivers of knowledge. Over the years, since I was released from the hospital, after all the things that were going to happen there did happen, I have used what I learned, which is: to be observant. Pounding out my daily travels, I come to know who’s having a tawdry little affair with which neighbor, whose husband is leaving home, who drinks too much, who beats their children. I can tell which businesses are struggling, and who has come into some money from a dead parent or lucky lottery ticket. I discover which teenager hopes for a college football or basketball scholarship, and which teenager will be shipped off for a few months to visit some distant aunt and perhaps deal with a surprise pregnancy. I have come to know which cops will cut you a break, and which are quick with the nightstick or the ticket book, depending on the transgression. And there are all sorts of littler observations, as well, ones that come with who I am and who I’ve become—for example the lady hairdresser who signals me at the end of the day to come in and cuts my hair so that I am more presentable during my daily travels, and then slips me an extra five dollars from her day’s tips, or the manager of the local McDonald’s who spots me pacing past, and runs after me with a bag filled with burgers and fries and has come to know that I am partial to vanilla shakes, not chocolate. Being mad and walking abroad is the clearest window on human nature; it is a little like watching the town flow along like the water cascading past the fish ladder window.

And it isn’t as if I am useless. I once spotted a factory door ajar at a time it was always closed and locked, and found a policeman, who took all the credit for the burglary that he interrupted. But the police did give me a certificate when I got the license plate of a hit-and-run driver who knocked a bicyclist senseless one spring afternoon. And in something awkwardly close to the takes-one-to-know-one category, as I cruised past a park where children were playing one fall weekend, I spotted a man—and I knew as soon as I saw him, hanging by the entranceway, that something was completely wrong. Once my voices would have noticed him, and they would have shouted out a warning, but this time I took it upon myself to mention him to the young preschool teacher I knew who was reading a woman’s magazine on the bench ten yards from the sandbox and swing set and not quite paying enough attention to her charges. It turned out the man was recently released and had been registered just that morning as a sex offender.

This time, I didn’t get a certificate, but the teacher had the children paint me a colorful picture of themselves at play, and they wrote a thank-you across it in that wondrously crazy script that children have before we burden them with reason and opinions. I carried the picture back to my little apartment and placed it on the wall above my bed, where it is now. I have a musty brown life, and it reminds me of the colors I might have experienced if I hadn’t stumbled onto the path that had brought me here.

That, then, more or less, is the sum of my existence, as it is now. A man on the fringe of the sane world.

And, I suspect I would have simply passed the remainder of my days this way, and never really bothered to tell what I know about all those events I witnessed had I not received the letter from the state.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

John Katzenbach has written eight previous novels: the Edgar Award–nominated In the Heat of the Summer, which was adapted for the screen as The Mean Season; the New York Times bestseller The Traveler; Day of Reckoning; Just Cause, which was also made into a movie; The Shadow Man (another Edgar nominee); State of Mind; Hart’s War, which was also a major motion picture; and The Analyst. Katzenbach has been a criminal court reporter for The Miami Herald and Miami News and a featured writer for the Herald’s Tropic magazine. He lives in western Massachusetts.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Madman's Tale 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
NookGirlPA More than 1 year ago
This book was extremely good. It was a definite page turner. It even had a great ending which is so rare in a book anymore. Read it, you will not be sorry. It's a definite thumbs up (no pun intended for poor Cleo).
Guest More than 1 year ago
this wasnt the greatest book i have ever read. it had a good story line and plot, but it just seemed like it took forever to get to a point. this book would have been better if it was shorter.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It had such promise and i eagerly read the first 200 pages or so then it became somewhat redundant--I kept plodding along because i really cared about the characters but it just never panned out for me--disappointed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thouroughly enjoyed this book. Written in away that draws you in and makes you feel like you know every insane member of the cast of characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I happen to prefer long books, so was excited to see how many pages this was. Good story with wonderful characters and all the individual storylines were tied in nicely. I recommend this highly and will be looking into some of the author's other books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very entertaining, and certainly one I would recommend. I'd give it four-and-a-half stars instead of five if they offered it, but I'm not going to nit-pick, so five it is. The story line is original and the characters are fleshed out nicely. I know a few other reviewers had some complaints about the book's length, but it wasn't that bad at all. The story felt neither boring nor drawn out, and to cut sizeable portions from it would have impeded character development. If you want a good read with interesting characters interacting in a unique setting, then this book is definitely worth your time. It's the first I've read from John Katzenbach, and it was impressive enough that I'm now looking into some of his other titles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An outstanding read. What makes it so good is that it is told from the point of view of a psychotic patient in a mental institution. It is the blurring of reality vs. fantasy that makes the book so worth reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most engrossing books I have read in a while. You feel as though you are right there with C-Bird and you almost want to peek at the end to see the outcome. But don't do it! This book is so well written I didn't want it to end.
Anonymous 12 months ago
Riveting story of a serial killer running free in a mental hospital as told by a patient. C-bird is a young man of twenty-one years confined by his aging parents and sisters, Hearing a multitude of voices is the reason he is placed in the state run institution. There are some very sick individuals in this facility and also several administrators whose actions lead you to think they just might be sicker then there patients. John Katzenbach has written another excellent novel. A very strong recommendation to read an author who has the ability to look at dark situations in an unusual way. J M Lydon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good story but way too long. However, much as I wanted to stop reading it, I found myself compelled to finish...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly loved this book! It came to a point where I could not put it down. It seems to me as though the main character, Francis, is not really "crazy" at all. A man obsessed with fighting and finally letting go of his inner demons from 20 yrs. ago, but not crazy in the actual sense of the word. When he talks of hearing voices, he describes them as "inner voices" not ever as something he hears out loud around him or telling him what to do, but something helpful. Something we all call our gut feelings. I believe he is the product of a lonely self-conscience childhood with a mild form of bipolar or social anxiety and parents that wanted no part of that. As the story plays out and you meet the other characters that play main roles in the story you find yourself connecting on so many levels of pain and strength and just how far people are willing to go for redemption. The description of the mental facility is very accurate in many aspects, even as far as the potral of the way some doctors and therapists can be, as well as patients. I have spent time observing these things for various reasons. When thrown together in that atmosphere patients tend to bond in ways that go beyond the hospital walls and remain in memories for a lifetime, I have seen it. Maybe that is why tthis book has struck such a chord with me. The story is unforgettable and it is not just about the murders that take place, but the three main characters and what they battle inside. The end honestly made me cry, I highly reccomend it!
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This story was very intriging. Well-written plot. Creative and spooky. This author's books are definitely added to my list to buy
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I liked the story line and it was well written however, a little drawn out. He could have cut about a 100 pages out of it and it would have been better. Its originality and consistent pace kept me interested.
Guest More than 1 year ago
John Katzenbach has assembled an authentic 'Cuckoo's Nest' of characters inside Western State Mental Hospital in his chilling thriller, 'The Madman's Tale.' Narrator (C-Bird), both witness and schizophrenic whose hold on mental normalcy and self-preservation is tenuous, revisits the nightmare that took place twenty years ago. His narrative rotates between present day in first person and his third person memories. In 1979 a rape/murder inside the asylum brings in prosecuting attorney Lucy Jones (who has three unsolveds with similar profiles) to investigate. Lucy herself is a victim of a similar malicious crime. Her initial act is unorthodox; enlisting two inmates (C-Bird and Peter the Fireman) to aid her as 'they are the only ones I am certain are not guilty.' Creating additional tension is a minimally cooperative and reluctant hospital management. Uncovering the killer hiding inside the institution is a most intriguing premise. There are no rules for pursuing a murderer in a mental institution where 'the mad know the truth and the sane cannot comprehend it.' The serial killer circles around them, committing two additional murders during the investigation. Mr. Katzenbach creates an uneasy atmosphere filled with evil, darkness and an engrossing sense of foreboding. The unfortunate, unlikely heroes are sympathetic characters that you worry and care about. You cannot anticipate what will happen next. This tale will linger in your mind long after the final page. It commands your attention and has a terrific conclusion.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Over two decades have passed since the notorious Western State Hospital mental health facility shut down. Compared to the other inmates and much of the staff, Francis ¿C-Bird¿ Petrel, in spite of the cacophony of voices in his head, seemed relatively normal. He befriends another comparatively stable soul Peter the Fireman, an arsonist who killed a pedophile priest. Now C-Bird lives in a cheap apartment where he writes his memoirs on the walls and takes medicine to keep the voices from causing orchestral disharmony inside his head.................................. Looking back to the violent murder of Nurse ¿Short Blond¿, C-Bird thought at first his other pal from the days of confinement against his will Lanky killed her because he had earlier called her evil. However, Lanky insisted that the Angel of Death murdered the nurse. State prosecutor Lucy Kyoto Jones, who was obsessed with taking down those who harm women and children, believed the schizoid Lanky is telling the truth. She enlisted the help of the two ¿normals¿, C-Bird and Fireman, because she felt that the real culprit had killed others outside the wall.......................... THE MADMAN¿S TALE is a fascinating look back at a homicide through the eyes of a soul with a mental disorder. The story line grips the audience as C-Bird narrates it with a different perspective than normally provided. The who-done-it is well written and clever and the insider¿s glimpse at the mental institution by a guest is mesmerizing. Fans will enjoy this crime thriller that will remind readers of Gothika though the star is quite different...................... Harriet Klausner