Six Foot Under

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Compton Castle is an old Victorian psychiatric hospital, long since scheduled for demolition, but reprieved by financial cutbacks. Its warren of endless corridors, tiny rooms, huge wards, and acres of grounds were designed as a sanctuary for the mentally ill. But it now proves ideal for another purpose - the concealment of murder. Physically and mentally battered after his latest case, Sergeant Trevor Joseph is at Compton Castle as a temporary patient, but therapeutic tranquility soon gives way to horror when a ...
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Overview

Compton Castle is an old Victorian psychiatric hospital, long since scheduled for demolition, but reprieved by financial cutbacks. Its warren of endless corridors, tiny rooms, huge wards, and acres of grounds were designed as a sanctuary for the mentally ill. But it now proves ideal for another purpose - the concealment of murder. Physically and mentally battered after his latest case, Sergeant Trevor Joseph is at Compton Castle as a temporary patient, but therapeutic tranquility soon gives way to horror when a corpse is dug out of a flowerbed. Police investigations then disclose two more victims: both female, both young, and both linked to the hospital. Whether staff or patient, everyone within the moldering walls is now in danger so long as a serial killer stalks the corridors. As Joseph interrogates personnel and examines files, a complexity of suspects emerges ... while an ingenious murderer watches and waits to strike again.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Introduced in Without Trace (1995), British police sergeant Trevor Joseph is recovering from depression in Compton Castle Psychiatric Hospital, where another patient insists that she saw someone bury a body on the grounds. After the body is found, Joseph's colleagues try to involve him in the investigation. Although he refuses, old habits die hard, and little by little he is pulled into the action. The victim, a former inmate at the hospital, had been buried alive, drugged and with her mouth glued shut. Two more victims, also buried alive, are discovered and official suspicion settles on the personnel and inmates of the Gothic hospital. Becoming more involved, Joseph must successfully navigate his way out of the Castle, with its surreal passages and abandoned wings, and discover its secrets in order to solve the case and emerge with a new life. John's focus on atmosphere and images of suffocation make the most of an essentially routine mystery. (May)
William Beatty
Ponderous, Victorian Compton Castle Psychiatric Hospital makes an ideal setting for the various bodies, mostly of young women more or less dead, discovered planted about its widespread grounds. Temporary patient Sgt. Trevor Joseph has pretty well recovered from devastating physical wounds but needs to overcome their mental complications when he is called to investigate. The ensuing story is as much about Joseph's restoration to normal life and work as about a psychologically warped murderer's desperation and ultimate, total defeat. John provides ample clues and culs-de-sac along the way, fitting all naturally into the development of characters and narrative. Imaginatively conceived, smoothly written, and increasingly gripping, John's procedural should attract and hold readers right up to its explosive conclusion.
Kirkus Reviews
Sergeant Trevor Joseph, a clinically depressed survivor of injuries inflicted in Without Trace (1995), is morosely engaging in art therapy at Compton Castle, a medieval pile that's been used as a psychiatric hospital since Victorian times. Joseph's tentative reengagement with the outside world is accelerated by the depredations of a serial killer who has been killing and burying attractive nurses and patients alike, along with the occasional unlucky dog and witness. Soon, Compton Castle is swarming with Trevor's old mates: doing autopsies, devouring fish and chips, and alienating pompous administrators of the sort we'd all be proud to alienate. The body count rises with horrific absurdity as police and staff fail to shut down the violence. But Trevor's spirits, oddly enough, rise. The murderer/psychopath (first among equals, as it were, in this antique snakepit) is caught after a confusing search and a preposterous big bang. Meanwhile, the most successful aspect of John's second effort is the Castle itself, an enthralling palimpsest of architectures and rehabs just waiting for gothic lightning to strike. The author also reveals a provocative sociological savvy that sorts oddly with a geographical setting so vague it could be described as "near the sea."

A curious mixture of the vivid and the unlikely, weighed down by clumsy and often redundant prose.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312144166
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1996
  • Series: Trevor Joseph Series
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 5.81 (w) x 8.57 (h) x 1.27 (d)

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