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A Familiar Sight

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A shocking murder carries echoes of the past for a psychologist in a startling novel of suspense by a Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author. Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history i A shocking murder carries echoes of the past for a psychologist in a startling novel of suspense by a Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author. Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history is often overlooked: Gretchen is an admitted sociopath once suspected of killing her aunt. Shaughnessy still thinks Gretchen got away with murder. It’s not going to happen again. When a high-profile new case lands on Shaughnessy’s desk, it seems open and shut. Remorseless teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother. Amid stories of childhood horrors and Viola’s cruel manipulations, the bad seed has already been found guilty by a rapt public. But Gretchen might be seeing something in Viola no one else does: herself. If Viola is a scapegoat, then who really did it? And what are they hiding? To find the truth, Gretchen must enter a void that is not only dark and cold-blooded, but also frighteningly familiar.


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A shocking murder carries echoes of the past for a psychologist in a startling novel of suspense by a Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author. Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history i A shocking murder carries echoes of the past for a psychologist in a startling novel of suspense by a Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author. Psychologist and criminologist Dr. Gretchen White is a specialist in antisocial personality disorders and violent crimes. She’s helped solve enough prominent cases for detective Patrick Shaughnessy that her own history is often overlooked: Gretchen is an admitted sociopath once suspected of killing her aunt. Shaughnessy still thinks Gretchen got away with murder. It’s not going to happen again. When a high-profile new case lands on Shaughnessy’s desk, it seems open and shut. Remorseless teenager Viola Kent is accused of killing her mother. Amid stories of childhood horrors and Viola’s cruel manipulations, the bad seed has already been found guilty by a rapt public. But Gretchen might be seeing something in Viola no one else does: herself. If Viola is a scapegoat, then who really did it? And what are they hiding? To find the truth, Gretchen must enter a void that is not only dark and cold-blooded, but also frighteningly familiar.

30 review for A Familiar Sight

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joey R.

    4.0 stars— “A Familiar Sight” is the third book I have read by Brianna Labuskes and is also the third time I have given a 4 star rating to one of her books. But, If I had to rank her books, this one would be my favorite. The reason I enjoyed this book so much was the main character, Dr. Gretchen White, was like no other character I have ever read. White is best described as a sociopathic psychologist and criminologist that does consulting work for the local police department on murder cases. She 4.0 stars— “A Familiar Sight” is the third book I have read by Brianna Labuskes and is also the third time I have given a 4 star rating to one of her books. But, If I had to rank her books, this one would be my favorite. The reason I enjoyed this book so much was the main character, Dr. Gretchen White, was like no other character I have ever read. White is best described as a sociopathic psychologist and criminologist that does consulting work for the local police department on murder cases. She is such a bizarrely (is that a word?) written character I couldn’t put the book down. She is super intelligent, sarcastic but incapable of feeling any emotion and the author does a wonderful and consistent job of writing from her perspective. The plot is very interesting and complex too, but the time hopping back and forth over a twenty year period was distracting and hard to follow at times. Dr. White was also able to make huge deductions from the smallest minutiae of evidence that even after re-reading it I couldn’t wrap my tiny brain around her logic. I will definitely keep reading Labuskes’ books, as she is very original and her plots are always very interesting. I hope she brings back Dr. White as well because she definitely stands out as one of the more unpredictable and unique characters I have enjoyed reading about in a long time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Chu (The ChuseyReader)

    3 or 3.5. It took me a while to decide on a rating as there were aspects that I really enjoyed AND disliked about this novel. What I enjoyed • The unique premise and protagonist, I love an anti-hero as being in their point of view is so fascinating and different!! Gretchen was not too crazy considering she can function within society but enough nuances to make me interested in her. • The dual point of view and timeline, I have both positives and negatives in the way it was done. I love it when stor 3 or 3.5. It took me a while to decide on a rating as there were aspects that I really enjoyed AND disliked about this novel. What I enjoyed • The unique premise and protagonist, I love an anti-hero as being in their point of view is so fascinating and different!! Gretchen was not too crazy considering she can function within society but enough nuances to make me interested in her. • The dual point of view and timeline, I have both positives and negatives in the way it was done. I love it when stories start off with a bang and then slowly go back into the past to unravel the crime. I also enjoyed how the current timeline would then be followed by the corresponding past event so it was like revealing the other puzzle piece. • The interactions between Viola and Gretchen. Psychopath vs sociopath, I love it! I just wish there was more! What I didn’t enjoy • The non chronological order of Reed’s timeline. It was different but I didn’t like it because it felt messy, there was too much jumping to the past and future. Rather than show past events leading up to the death...It went the opposite way and in a random order towards a different case which was confusing and disappointing because I was more interested in Violet. • The loose ends of the past. Considering how much focus and build up of mystery there was around the past, I was waiting for a jaw dropping revelation that never came. (view spoiler)[(Tess’ disappearance and death was glossed over) (hide spoiler)] . • The fact that Gretchen calls other people empaths. I didn’t mind it the first few times but it got irritating. Sometimes it felt like the use of the word sociopath and empaths was the biggest reminder that Gretchen was in fact a sociopath. Theme and the missed potential! (view spoiler)[ • This was my first time seeing a book where the husband is a victim of domestic violence. It lightly touched on the issues of men being abused and the stigma that it has: “Men who were abused by women were never taken seriously. He would become the butt of their jokes” • Upon reflection, I feel it was a missed opportunity to focus on domestic violence and an incredibly complex family where the mother and daughter were abusive psychopaths and the husband and boys were the victims. How crazy is that! Instead the focus was on the relationship between Tess, Reed and Claire. As I didn’t get deep insights into the family and I wasn’t emotionally invested, the revelation was anticlimactic and I didn’t feel anything for the man who gave his life for his son. (hide spoiler)] Review Website | Bookstagram

  3. 4 out of 5

    Pat (currently not accepting new friend requests)

    I think this is the first book in a new series by the author. I have read a couple of her books and, while I have enjoyed them, this one is the best I’ve read by a long way. We get a sneak peek into the mind of a sociopath, Dr Gretchen White - psychologist and criminologist, as she works as a police consultant to solve cold or ‘interesting’ cases under the patronage of Detective Patrick Shaughnessy of the Boston PD. These two have a very interesting dynamic. Shaughnessy still believes Gretchen k I think this is the first book in a new series by the author. I have read a couple of her books and, while I have enjoyed them, this one is the best I’ve read by a long way. We get a sneak peek into the mind of a sociopath, Dr Gretchen White - psychologist and criminologist, as she works as a police consultant to solve cold or ‘interesting’ cases under the patronage of Detective Patrick Shaughnessy of the Boston PD. These two have a very interesting dynamic. Shaughnessy still believes Gretchen killed her aunt when she was eight years old, and got away with it so he likes to keep an eye on her. And Gretchen wants to prove Shaughnessy wrong by demonstrating she can keep her darker impulses under control. Gretchen gets her serve of darkness from seeing the crime scenes, the photos, attending the autopsies and - scrabbling around in people’s minds. Oh how she loves scrabbling in those minds! This case is precipitated by the presumed accidental overdose death of Lena Booker, high priced mob lawyer and one of Gretchen’s few actual friends. Lena called Gretchen on the night of her death and left a cryptic message saying she’d messed up, and “she’s just like you.” Lena is also the lawyer for 13 year old Viola Kent who brutally stabbed her mother, Claire, to death six months ago. Reed Kent, the father, and his two younger children - sons Sebastian and Milo, seem well shot of the freaky Viola. There are signs of long term abuse on the bodies of both boys. As Shaughnessy doesn’t see any wrinkles ahead in this case he assigns his latest partner (Gretchen tends to scare them away) Detective Lauren Marconi, to babysit Gretchen. These two also develop an interesting dynamic and, while they will never be good buddies (sociopaths don’t really go in for friends much), they do end up with a grudging sort of respect for each other. This book is all about the characters and what an interesting bunch they are. Naturally Gretchen wants to interview the child Viola who, by all accounts, is a psychopath. After the interview Gretchen agrees that the child is, indeed, a budding psychopath who will, if able, go on to murder people. But did she kill her mother? She has already killed some animals - animal lovers should note that this is not described at all, it is just noted as having had occurred. But I think it is an important element of this particular story. You will soon learn that all is not as it seems within this family. Gretchen also uncovers links to the disappearance of Reed’s teenage girlfriend Tess Murphy. The consensus was that she ran away. But did she? And by the way the answers to the questions I pose are not necessarily the same or even obvious! It soon becomes clear that quite a few people had a motive for killing Claire Kent, including her daughter. Gretchen is driven nearly to distraction with this juicy puzzle! So, while the story was not a fast paced thriller it was rather a delicious, devious mystery with a very surprising ending. I enjoyed the ride along with Gretchen and I know I am far away at the other end of the spectrum - what Gretchen would call an empath. But I can still enjoy a cracking story like this one. All the characters were exquisitely drawn, their mental anguish clear and, for Gretchen, like nectar. I wanted to give this 5 stars but I did think it was a touch long and belaboured the differences between sociopaths and empaths. On the other hand I enjoyed it so much that 5 stars it is! I really want to thank Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for the free advance copy of this book which I reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    Dr. Gretchen White insists that she is a non-violent sociopath, but Detective Shaughnessy refuses to believe this. Dr. White is hired on occasion to help the police with their investigations when they suspect that a sociopath may be involved. Lauren Marconi is the new supervising detective in charge of Dr. White during the investigation of the brutal stabbing of prominent socialite, Claire Kent, by her budding sociopath daughter, Viola Kent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . White and Marconi circle eac Dr. Gretchen White insists that she is a non-violent sociopath, but Detective Shaughnessy refuses to believe this. Dr. White is hired on occasion to help the police with their investigations when they suspect that a sociopath may be involved. Lauren Marconi is the new supervising detective in charge of Dr. White during the investigation of the brutal stabbing of prominent socialite, Claire Kent, by her budding sociopath daughter, Viola Kent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . White and Marconi circle each other warily, but as the story progresses, Gretchen White has made another conquest of Detective Marconi - but not by using her naturally winning ways - because Gretchen has none! Instead, Marconi comes to respect Dr. White's intelligence and her desire to get to the bottom of this high profile case. The twist was a doozy: you would be excused for coming to one particular foregone conclusion, but in this case, it would be WRONG! I was a tad confused by the last chapter. I thought White was in favour of keeping a certain detainee behind bars because she was very sure that the detainee would eventually torture and kill someone. Instead, the story ends with one innocent person being martyred, while the other, more culpable and dangerous person is set free to be "watched closely.". Gretchen has no doubt that this person will eventually cause harm, and even the death, of another human being (the latter person being a rampant sociopath, and all!) Born to kill, as they say. It took me forever to get through this book. I lost track of what was happening so many times, I've read certain passages at least 3 times. There was too much repetition, too many internal dialogues where Gretchen had to pull herself back from saying or doing a violent thing. I could not connect with Gretchen: she is a bit of a show off. She knows she is uber-intelligent and never lets the reader forget this. She is "above" us empaths. That was one heck of a startling twist at the end! The last chapter seemed to ramble on and on and on and on and on. Something about the author's writing style did not appeal to me. I wanted her to move on and stop embellishing each and every idea until she killed it with over-description. How many times was Gretchen going to repeat Lena's last words to her? Enough already! I'm rating this one a 3 out of 5 stars. It had a great premise, and the author can write a decent sentence, but the overall story did not live up to the hype for me. I was so, so glad when I turned the final page! (The Kent men weren't the only one's being tortured in this story! I think I'm done with thrillers for a bit!)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I greatly enjoyed this book and thought it was extremely unique in a crowded genre. The protagonist is a psychologist named Gretchen who is a diagnosed sociopath- she has been brought in to assist with Boston PD investigations over the years and forged a friendship with one of the detectives. In this case, a woman is murdered and the prime suspect is her teenage daughter who displays sociopathic tendencies- it's up to Gretchen to dig in and see if there is more to the story. The plot for this boo I greatly enjoyed this book and thought it was extremely unique in a crowded genre. The protagonist is a psychologist named Gretchen who is a diagnosed sociopath- she has been brought in to assist with Boston PD investigations over the years and forged a friendship with one of the detectives. In this case, a woman is murdered and the prime suspect is her teenage daughter who displays sociopathic tendencies- it's up to Gretchen to dig in and see if there is more to the story. The plot for this book was great, and I enjoyed that it went back and forth between previous events and current times to build up a picture of the various players and their experiences. The ending completely threw me; it was literally something hadn't even thought about at any point throughout the book, which is extremely rare for me. I liked Gretchen and thought it was fascinating to see how her mind worked and how she related to others. I am no expert, but have done some research in this field and her thoughts and actions felt authentic. If I had one nit, it would be that the world 'sociopath' was used SO MANY TIMES throughout the book- I was like 'we get it, already!'. Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I hope the author writes more books about Gretchen. It's fast paced and cleverly written with a unique storyline, not to mention a true twist. I'd recommend it for those who like mysteries and psychological thrillers. Thanks to Netgalley for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mackey

    3.5 Rating or 7 of 10 I'm not doing the star thing because the book was a 3.5 neither rounded up to a 4 nor down to a 3. Period. A Familiar Sight is a new series by the author in which the main character, a consultant with the Boston PD, is a Sociopath who was falsely (or not) accused of murdering her aunt when she was a child. She is true sociopath not in the flippant way so many use the word in today's politics. This mental hindrance made for an interesting perspective to the crime which involv 3.5 Rating or 7 of 10 I'm not doing the star thing because the book was a 3.5 neither rounded up to a 4 nor down to a 3. Period. A Familiar Sight is a new series by the author in which the main character, a consultant with the Boston PD, is a Sociopath who was falsely (or not) accused of murdering her aunt when she was a child. She is true sociopath not in the flippant way so many use the word in today's politics. This mental hindrance made for an interesting perspective to the crime which involved a child accused of killing her mother. However, there was so much more buried very deep in this case that it really wasn't about a child who had killed her mother, ohhhh no. Not in the least. The writing was terrific, rapid fire, sharp and exactly how I like it. There were multiple characters but they were easily slotted into their place so that it didn't become overly confusing. The plot was a bit complex and just when you thought you had it figured out, another layer was uncovered and not in the cringeworthy "aha - gotcha" kind of way. I enjoyed it very much. But.... sadly, there was a but.... Two things kept me from going full on love affair with this book. First, the Sociopath continually called other human, non-socio/psychopaths "empaths." With a minor in psychology and, sadly, an empath myself, I had to do some research to see if this was a new way of describing humans with feelings. No, it's not. Empaths still are those poor creatures who literally "feel" the emotions of others: the anxiety, the anger, the noise, the frenzy, the horror, the sadness.... oh, sorry. The fact that this word was overused to the point of annoyance and then used incorrectly was more than I could tolerate. Second, despite the "empath" thing, I really did enjoy the book until the end. The scene at the end with Reed went ooooooon and oooooonnnnn and oooooooonnnnn. Good gosh, if I had a gun I might have shot him myself just to end the chapter - and no that was NOT a spoiler. This portion of the book needs better editing. It need much less garbage. It brings down the entire book and the remainder is too good for the treatment in the one scene. Please, editing is your friend. Oh, and this was my Prime First Reads for July. It will be on sale for everyone in August.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Candace

    I found the story tedious, especially because almost every character's utterance was explained by the author before we could move on to the next utterance or response. There were also the relentless switches in time. Enough already. I found the story tedious, especially because almost every character's utterance was explained by the author before we could move on to the next utterance or response. There were also the relentless switches in time. Enough already.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Monica

    What a story!! I was completely hooked from start to finish! Such a unique character - Gretchen is a mixture between Dexter and the CSI folks. Her train of thought while solving the murder and the use of multiple time lines made this triller a quick and entertaining read! I will definitely be reading more of this series!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    DNF I will not be rating or reviewing A Familiar Sight. I found the plot uninteresting and confusing. This is only my opinion.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Betty

    If I were not compulsive about finishing books, whether I am enjoying them or not, I never would have finished this one. The plot was an interesting one but I felt like there was way too much emphasis on the inner dialogue/double entendre, as well as all the over-analysis of the reactions. For example, Gretchen is talking to Declan and she notices that he "pinched the corners of his mouth." I even tried to do that while I was looking in the mirror and realized that it meant nothing to me. And ch If I were not compulsive about finishing books, whether I am enjoying them or not, I never would have finished this one. The plot was an interesting one but I felt like there was way too much emphasis on the inner dialogue/double entendre, as well as all the over-analysis of the reactions. For example, Gretchen is talking to Declan and she notices that he "pinched the corners of his mouth." I even tried to do that while I was looking in the mirror and realized that it meant nothing to me. And characters tend to "slide" glances at one another. Nothing in this book just happens without being exhaustively analyzed. And, for me, it made for an exhausting read because I was so focused on the details that I would forget who was talking and have to reread simple passages. We know that Gretchen and Viola are psychopaths and apparently Reed and Claire are psychopath/adjacent. Or does Reed need a more specific diagnosis that also includes his panic attacks and blackouts. I didn't really care who committed the murders because I never really knew the victims. I hate the idea of an insanely handsome man dying needlessly but ultimately wasn't moved by that event. Maybe if I were a psychopath, I would have enjoyed the book more because I would have appreciated Gretchen's biting wit and fearless Porsche driving. It was a bit like taking a class in psychology without receiving college credit. I learned that psychopaths and empaths can be friends. I guess I would recommend this book to the kind of people who enjoy it when their friends go off on endless tangents before they get to the point. Maybe a girl fight between Gretchen and Marconi plus a girl fight between Claire and Reed's sister would have helped, but we only got to see them "slide" looks. I think the book gave me PTSD.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dawn

    I've been in a funk and can't finish anything I start just now so when this popped up as an Amazon first read I thought why not? Really enjoyed it! I've been in a funk and can't finish anything I start just now so when this popped up as an Amazon first read I thought why not? Really enjoyed it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lee

    I really enjoyed this book, I had not heard of this author before. This was an extremely well put together story, from the first page I was hooked. A lot of research must have been under taken to handle this subject so well. I loved all the characters, especially Gretchen and Marconi's relationship.. I found myself a little anxious as the book neared the end, there were many ways the storyline could have gone. For me it wrapped up in a very satisfying way. I have just purchased another book from I really enjoyed this book, I had not heard of this author before. This was an extremely well put together story, from the first page I was hooked. A lot of research must have been under taken to handle this subject so well. I loved all the characters, especially Gretchen and Marconi's relationship.. I found myself a little anxious as the book neared the end, there were many ways the storyline could have gone. For me it wrapped up in a very satisfying way. I have just purchased another book from this author and I want to thank her and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book..

  13. 5 out of 5

    Val

    A Familiar Sight is one of the most unusual books I've encountered! Dr. Gretchen White is a police consultant. She's also a sociopath who may or may not have murdered her aunt when she was young. Although Gretchen was never proven guilty, the detective she now works with, Patrick Shaughnessy, still suspects Gretchen was guilty. However, her unusual expertise has helped close many cases. When he comes across a case where it appears a young teenager is guilty of stabbing her mother to death, Gretc A Familiar Sight is one of the most unusual books I've encountered! Dr. Gretchen White is a police consultant. She's also a sociopath who may or may not have murdered her aunt when she was young. Although Gretchen was never proven guilty, the detective she now works with, Patrick Shaughnessy, still suspects Gretchen was guilty. However, her unusual expertise has helped close many cases. When he comes across a case where it appears a young teenager is guilty of stabbing her mother to death, Gretchen is called in. There, she meets Shaughnessy's new partner, Marconi, and therein lay my favorite part of the book. Marconi was the perfect foil for Gretchen! They started out suspicious of each other and as time went on, they started respecting each other - and I loved their banter! I also liked how Gretchen had to go to great lengths to avoid killing anyone. Any little thing could set her off, and being inside her head was rather scary at times. So why only 3 stars? I have to confess I didn't finish the book. The author switches between the present and the past, with two different points of view: Gretchen's and the husband of the victim. The chapters are not at all chronological, so there would be a chapter taking place three months prior to the victim's murder, then a chapter taking place a week prior, and then a chapter taking place five months prior. You get the idea. I think it prevented my having a real connection to the characters. For me, it felt as though the author would give me just enough information to draw me in, and then she'd shift back to a time in the past. Or to a more recent time. There are so many fabulous reviews for A Familiar Sight that this is probably a case of "It's not you! It's me!" Just too much flipping around in time for me. My thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erth

    Usually I buy after reading reviews but this was a Kindle First mistake for me. There are two alternating Point of View characters, neither appealing especially Gretchen who constantly refers to her sociopath tendencies and is repetitive about psychopaths. Meanwhile the police - overweight older male detective and his very attractive younger female side-kick - are caricatures who do not draw me into their story. Both POV characters seem to be concealing information from me, the reader, which mak Usually I buy after reading reviews but this was a Kindle First mistake for me. There are two alternating Point of View characters, neither appealing especially Gretchen who constantly refers to her sociopath tendencies and is repetitive about psychopaths. Meanwhile the police - overweight older male detective and his very attractive younger female side-kick - are caricatures who do not draw me into their story. Both POV characters seem to be concealing information from me, the reader, which makes them unreliable narrators. Worst of all, the timeline - as far as I reached - is downright confusing: the prologue is set six months after the death of Claire (not stated, I had to go back to re-read chapter 1 to check this out); Chapter 1 is three days earlier; Chapter 2 three months after Claire's death; Chapter 3 "Now" - but not the "now" of the prologue but of Chapter 1's "three days earlier" (as is chapter 5); Chapter 4 is one month after Claire's death while Chapter 6 is three weeks before Claire's death. I gave up at this point because I dislike the feeling that an author has to conceal and confuse to create a story to unravel. Best avoided.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    I loved Girls of Glass so I was excited to read this one. Dr. Gretchen White is a non-violent sociopath which makes her work with detectives valuable as she can spot others. So when young Viola is arrested for killing her mother Claire, Gretchen knows something is a little "off." There are buried secrets and relationships that come to light as the book moves from present to past and we discover what really happened the night Claire was killed. It's a creepy kind of good if you like your books a I loved Girls of Glass so I was excited to read this one. Dr. Gretchen White is a non-violent sociopath which makes her work with detectives valuable as she can spot others. So when young Viola is arrested for killing her mother Claire, Gretchen knows something is a little "off." There are buried secrets and relationships that come to light as the book moves from present to past and we discover what really happened the night Claire was killed. It's a creepy kind of good if you like your books a little on the dark side! Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike Finn

    I like to plan my reading and read what I plan. The plan did not include spending the weekend completely under the spell of a book I didn't know anything about a day earlier. My first mistake was in checking the books on offer for free under Amazon's 'First Reads' scheme. When I saw 'A Familiar Sight', I remembered that I'd enjoyed an earlier First Read by Brianna Labuskes, 'Her Final Words' and decided to try another. My second mistake was in opening the book after I'd downloaded it, just to se I like to plan my reading and read what I plan. The plan did not include spending the weekend completely under the spell of a book I didn't know anything about a day earlier. My first mistake was in checking the books on offer for free under Amazon's 'First Reads' scheme. When I saw 'A Familiar Sight', I remembered that I'd enjoyed an earlier First Read by Brianna Labuskes, 'Her Final Words' and decided to try another. My second mistake was in opening the book after I'd downloaded it, just to see what it was like. I looked up an hour later, knowing that this book owned me. It didn't matter what I'd planned to read. THIS was what I HAD to read. So what hooked me? In a market crowded with psychological thrillers, this one felt fresh and original with cliché-free characters with sharp edges and more than a few surprises. And the storytelling was mesmerising. The plot unfolds in short, lean, well-written chapters that alternate between two characters: Dr Gretchen White, an allegedly non-violent sociopath who is an acknowledged expert in antisocial personality disorders and has a track record of helping Boston PD solve violent crimes, and Reed Kent, a Southey boy who made it to Harvard, married an heiress and is now best known as the father of Viola Kent, a psychopathic little girl who is on trial for stabbing her mother to death. The Gretchen storyline is linear and set in the Now. The Reed storyline moves up and down the timeline before and after his wife's death. Each chapter offered me something new, often changing my perception of the who did what to whom and why and always leaving me hungry for the next chapter so that I found myself on an unplanned binge read. The book held me all the way through by a mix of clever pacing, tight plotting and strong characters. I liked the fact that, although my perception of who the bad guys were and even what it was they'd done kept changing, I could always, almost see it coming so that I felt as if I was working the puzzle out and I never felt that the author had cheated. Everything fitted together, but seldom in the way I'd expected them to. But what really made the book stand out was the character of Dr Gretchen White and the relationship she builds with the detective assigned to 'babysit' her in this investigation. Gretchen thinks differently from 'empaths'. She's good at reading power and politics but poor at reading some emotions. She controls her violent impulses, most of the time. She enjoys taking risks and pushing people's buttons. Getting a close-up view of the recently killed is a bonus but what she most needs is to know what happened. 'A Familiar Sight' held me for an entire weekend and got better and better with each chapter. The best thing is that it's the first book in series of Dr Gretchen White books. I'll be there for the rest of them and I hope the next one arrives soon.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Soly

    Awful, awful, awful!! Mental illness is not something to write about in a mystery book. And to have the protagonist label herself as a sociopath is terribly misleading. Mental illness is a delicate topic at the best of times, and is not appropriate for a mystery book. It needs to be treated, not glamorized by having a protagonist claim to have the same disorder as the murderer (who was gruesome beyond belief). Not the kind of book I'd read. I quit early on and deleted it from my Kindle. Awful, awful, awful!! Mental illness is not something to write about in a mystery book. And to have the protagonist label herself as a sociopath is terribly misleading. Mental illness is a delicate topic at the best of times, and is not appropriate for a mystery book. It needs to be treated, not glamorized by having a protagonist claim to have the same disorder as the murderer (who was gruesome beyond belief). Not the kind of book I'd read. I quit early on and deleted it from my Kindle.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    Picked this one up with the Prime Reads program and super glad I did. The premise intrigued me since I love sociopath characters--and the MC being one I was like *eyes emoji* I thought it was really well done--Gretchen is a compelling character and I enjoyed how her "superpower" is also her weakness--she sees the world a specific way, making her helpful to the case, but also potentially misses things for the same reason. It kept me guessing (though happy to say that I did "spot the sociopath" co Picked this one up with the Prime Reads program and super glad I did. The premise intrigued me since I love sociopath characters--and the MC being one I was like *eyes emoji* I thought it was really well done--Gretchen is a compelling character and I enjoyed how her "superpower" is also her weakness--she sees the world a specific way, making her helpful to the case, but also potentially misses things for the same reason. It kept me guessing (though happy to say that I did "spot the sociopath" correctly haha). I normally don't like "detective" fiction nor series, and yet! Loved this. I definitely want to read more books with Gretchen and Marconi, so I'll definitely pick up the next one. I saw it's 1 of 2, but I hope this goes beyond just two books. It's such a good setup and cast of characters. Plus I love the Boston setting! (that said I did feel, occasionally, that the book lacked the true "texture" of Boston, so I wasn't shocked to see the author isn't from there. But it's a little thing.) As a writer, I really enjoyed this book on a line level. Physical descriptions, emotional immediacy (even from the sociopath lol), etc.--there were lines that I had to stop and appreciate b/c the turns of phrase I thought were great. Overall if you want to read something with this specific conceit--a sociopath hunting sociopaths--with distinctive voice, strong writing, but also a nice dose of soap (which is my thing), I really enjoyed this. Got me out of a bit of a fiction reading slump! The author is definitely on my radar now and I'll have to check out her past books while I wait for the next Gretchen White book! Also hey TV this would make a great series...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Kelly

    This was my Kindle First choice for July but I've called it a day at 22%. It just isn't for me. She labours the point of empaths vs psychopaths till I got so bored with hearing it I glazed over and lost all interest. We got the point, we didn't need the constant reminders on every other page !! I only spotted one mistake by the time I gave in-she put the hyphen in the wrong place in 'fire engine-red' where it should be 'fire-engine red' so that was pretty good going. However, I just can't be repea This was my Kindle First choice for July but I've called it a day at 22%. It just isn't for me. She labours the point of empaths vs psychopaths till I got so bored with hearing it I glazed over and lost all interest. We got the point, we didn't need the constant reminders on every other page !! I only spotted one mistake by the time I gave in-she put the hyphen in the wrong place in 'fire engine-red' where it should be 'fire-engine red' so that was pretty good going. However, I just can't be repeated at all the time like I've a short-term memory issue ! Not everything in this world relates to whether you're a psychopath or an empath and we didn't need it to be SO overused. I did have a couple of her books in my wishlist but based upon this one I've now removed them, I'm afraid, as she isn't for me. It took me 3 days to get only as far as I did so I had really lost interest altogether.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    A Familiar Sight might feature the most unusual main character ever. We meet Dr. Gretchen White at the home of her friend Lena, the now very dead Lena. While nothing suggests foul play, Detective Patrick Shaughnessy is not surprised to see Gretchen there. Her reason, she is the one who found the body. His thoughts, she winds up around a lot of dead bodies. She is a police consultant and a sociopath. Yep, Patrick relies on a sociopath to help him catch criminals with antisocial personality disord A Familiar Sight might feature the most unusual main character ever. We meet Dr. Gretchen White at the home of her friend Lena, the now very dead Lena. While nothing suggests foul play, Detective Patrick Shaughnessy is not surprised to see Gretchen there. Her reason, she is the one who found the body. His thoughts, she winds up around a lot of dead bodies. She is a police consultant and a sociopath. Yep, Patrick relies on a sociopath to help him catch criminals with antisocial personality disorders. The ties that bind Patrick and Gretchen together are shall we say complicated. Patrick has had his suspicions about Gretchen's involvement in her aunt's death, but he could never prove her guilt. Of course, that happened when she was only a child, and his belief that she was guilty has left her with the need to be near him, the need to push him, to prove him wrong. Hard to say how reliable of a narrator Gretchen is early in the story, but we will learn much more about what makes her tick as time goes by. What really has Patrick's attention though, is the fact that Lena was Violet Kent's lawyer. Thirteen-year-old Violet has been charged with the murder of her mother, and it surprises.......no one. Violet has shown violent tendencies to everyone around her, and the most common comment from those who knew her was not if, but when. When would she cross the line from inflicting pain and suffering to those around her, to murder? Gretchen could never figure out why Lena took Violet's case. Lena didn't represent losers, and the evidence clearly points to Violet. She starts digging into the life of the Kent's and discovers that this wealthy family had more than one skeleton in the closet. So Gretchen seems.....nice if you consider the fact that she has gone to great lengths to avoid killing anyone. Any little thing can set her off, and let me tell you, it was not always sunshine and roses being in her head. Thank goodness Gretchen knows how to stay on the right side of the law, after all, not all sociopaths are killers. The murder mystery is well-plotted, Violet Kent is a piece of work, and there is more to grieving widower and father Reed Kent and his dead wife Claire than meets the eye. Almost impossible to put down and told from two distinctive voices and timelines, Gretchen's and Reed's, I guessed some of the twists but definitely not all of them. I don't know if the author has plans for Gretchen White, but I for one would love to see her again. I finished this book several days ago and I am still not sure if I feel sorry for Gretchen, or afraid of her. I loved this book.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Suesyn Zellmer

    I loved this book! The main character is Dr. Gretchen White, a self-acknowledged sociopath. The more accepted name of her condition is antisocial personality disorder, but for ease of explanation and brevity, sociopath is how she refers to herself. She specializes in crimes committed by others like herself - she can easily relate to them and determine why and how they act as they do. It naturally makes her a pro at solving these types of cases. She often consults with Detective Patrick Shaughnes I loved this book! The main character is Dr. Gretchen White, a self-acknowledged sociopath. The more accepted name of her condition is antisocial personality disorder, but for ease of explanation and brevity, sociopath is how she refers to herself. She specializes in crimes committed by others like herself - she can easily relate to them and determine why and how they act as they do. It naturally makes her a pro at solving these types of cases. She often consults with Detective Patrick Shaughnessy who she met as a child when he believed her to be the murderer of her aunt. Theirs is a long and complicated relationship that means more to both of them than they prefer to acknowledge. When Gretchen's friend (yes, she has a friend!) Lena takes her own life after leaving her a mysterious voicemail, Gretchen is drawn into a murder case involving a similarly sociopathic young girl named Violet. Why would such an accomplished attorney like Lena defend someone who has so much evidence against her and who doesn't even deny her guilt? And why would Lena want Gretchen involved? It appears to be an open and shut case, but as Gretchen is fond of saying, not everything and everyone are as black and white as they seem. As she investigates, she's accompanied by a detective she's never worked with, Lauren Marconi, who may just be the perfect person to keep Gretchen on her toes. Not only do they look more closely into Violet's offense, but also a possibly related cold case of a missing teenager from decades back. Will they discover if and how it's related to Lena and the current murder case before it's too late? The author did an amazing job of portraying an unlikeable character in such a way that you do actually grow fond of her. You may not agree with many of her opinions or behavior, but it doesn't matter because the story is enjoyable and all the more realistic because of her. Real people aren't like typical book characters with charming and perfectly endearing personalities - it's their flaws that make them human and Gretchen is the perfect example of this. She knows her flaws as well as her strengths and cleverly uses both to her benefit. I really hope these characters feature in future stories because this book has left me wanting more!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A poor book, peopled by characters I didn’t like and ultimately stopped caring about. My predominant feeling on reaching the finale was relief!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    3.5 stars. Lawyer Lena Booker's body is discovered by her friend Dr. Gretchen White. Gretchen is a consultant for the Boston police department and an admitted sociopath. Her aunt was stabbed to death many years ago and Detective Patrick Shaughnessy still believes Gretchen killed her. Thirteen year old Viola Kent stabbed her mother Claire to death six months ago. Lena was Viola's lawyer. Police believe Viola is a very young psychopath and so does Gretchen, like minds and all.... But does that mean 3.5 stars. Lawyer Lena Booker's body is discovered by her friend Dr. Gretchen White. Gretchen is a consultant for the Boston police department and an admitted sociopath. Her aunt was stabbed to death many years ago and Detective Patrick Shaughnessy still believes Gretchen killed her. Thirteen year old Viola Kent stabbed her mother Claire to death six months ago. Lena was Viola's lawyer. Police believe Viola is a very young psychopath and so does Gretchen, like minds and all.... But does that mean she killed her mother? The writing style is unique in that time goes between the present and backward, backward from there, and even further back. I'm glad the months were clearly marked because that could have been quite confusing for me. The story is pretty slow and a lot about psychopathic behavior is mentioned multiple times. Maybe a little too much for me. Gretchen is an interesting and unique character. I'd be interested in exploring another story about her if written in a different format. I liked Marconi. The ending was unexpected.

  24. 4 out of 5

    RK_reads

    OMG...what did I just stumble upon??!! In the world of psychological thrillers, 'A Familiar Sight' is pure gold..!!! When 13-year-old Viola Kent is charged with the murder of her mother Claire, despite all evidences of Viola's violent sociopathic nature, Dr. Gretchen White is convinced of her innocence. Psychologist, criminologist and consultant for the Boston P.D, Gretchen is a sociopath herself (albeit, a non-violent one). Even as she walks a tightrope to keep her more wild impulses in check, OMG...what did I just stumble upon??!! In the world of psychological thrillers, 'A Familiar Sight' is pure gold..!!! When 13-year-old Viola Kent is charged with the murder of her mother Claire, despite all evidences of Viola's violent sociopathic nature, Dr. Gretchen White is convinced of her innocence. Psychologist, criminologist and consultant for the Boston P.D, Gretchen is a sociopath herself (albeit, a non-violent one). Even as she walks a tightrope to keep her more wild impulses in check, she joins hands with Detectives Shaughnessy and Marconi to help solve the extremely intriguing and gruesome case. Gretchen, far from your usual book heroine, is simply badass, for lack of a better word. Though Detectives Shaughnessy and Marconi take a backseat to Gretchen in the story, the relation she carves with them is noteworthy, considering they are wary of her twisted moral compass. The world of Gretchen is cleanly divided into that of sociopaths and empaths, and the author repeatedly highlights this difference throughout the book, I believe, to underscore the fact that some people are simply wired differently. In my opinion, without this emphasis, it would be extremely difficult to comprehend Gretchen's thought process or Viola's actions. While I am grossly unfamiliar on the topic, the story offers glimpses into violent anti-social personality disorders and may require trigger warnings. I am simply in awe of this author's writing because she didn't let up on the suspense right until the very end. Everytime I thought I had it all figured out, a few pages later, I would end up changing my mind again. And the climax was more dramatic than what my thriller-loving mind could imagine. Overall, a fantastic psychological thriller, that is, without doubt, a must-read. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    MeMe

    I strongly recommend this book. There is something intriguing about the plot, the characters, the progression of the story... and the writing is superb. Quite simply, I am left speechless and enthralled by this work. It was hard to believe, but I was a bit obsessed with the character of Dr. Gretchen White. I thought I had it figured out. After the plot twist had been re-worked and the sequel conceived from the Tasmanian Devil and a tornado, a concrete mixer was the product. Wow! I am completely b I strongly recommend this book. There is something intriguing about the plot, the characters, the progression of the story... and the writing is superb. Quite simply, I am left speechless and enthralled by this work. It was hard to believe, but I was a bit obsessed with the character of Dr. Gretchen White. I thought I had it figured out. After the plot twist had been re-worked and the sequel conceived from the Tasmanian Devil and a tornado, a concrete mixer was the product. Wow! I am completely blown away. I've always loved mystery/thrillers and this was such a great story but in a creepy new refreshing way. Despite her strange appearance, Gretchen was an oddly likable character. Current events are depicted in the book. When the story jumps to the past (in years, months, or days) it is told from Reed's perspective, a secondary character who is not really connected to Gretchen. Observe! I've never encountered anything like this before. At times, this plot led to tears because it was so sad and twisted. Some heavy topics are discussed in this book. There is so much more to learn about Dr. Gretchen White, and I am looking forward to reading the series.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Rating: 5/5. Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction HOLY. CRAP. This book blew me away. If I am being completely honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first read the synopsis of it, but I figured…why not give it a chance?! It sounded interesting, and different than most of the thrillers I’ve read before. And I am extremely glad that I did. I absolutely LOVED Dr. Gretchen White, and her unique character and overall development. She is a literal sociopath, as well as a psychologist and crimino Rating: 5/5. Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction HOLY. CRAP. This book blew me away. If I am being completely honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first read the synopsis of it, but I figured…why not give it a chance?! It sounded interesting, and different than most of the thrillers I’ve read before. And I am extremely glad that I did. I absolutely LOVED Dr. Gretchen White, and her unique character and overall development. She is a literal sociopath, as well as a psychologist and criminologist, who consults the local police department on various cases, even though her main contact, Patrick Shaughnessy, is the one who once believed she was the main suspect of a murder many years ago. Yes…she may have urges, but Gretchen has enough self-control to stop herself from acting out on her sociopathic nature (or does she..?). I loved how this book alternates between two POVs—one being Gretchen’s, the other being a man named Reed Kent. Reed is the father of Viola Kent, the teenage girl who is accused of murdering her mother, and the case which Shaughnessy is in charge of. This is an extremely fascinating novel, and I couldn’t wait to find out how everything came together, and finally get the answers to all the questions piling up in my head!! It was such a quick read and if you like anything remotely thrilling or mysterious, then THIS IS THE BOOK FOR YOU! It’s five stars from me!!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    This was a surprise. I found myself completely engrossed in this story, irritated by any little interruption that pulled me from it! I found the main character fascinating. I loved her POV and how she called norms "empaths". She was quirky and sassy and I liked her. I was so pulled in to the story I didn't even try to solve it. And the ending was such a huge surprise. Well written, well paced and with fun and interesting characters. I loved this one, so glad I gave it a try! A huge thank you to th This was a surprise. I found myself completely engrossed in this story, irritated by any little interruption that pulled me from it! I found the main character fascinating. I loved her POV and how she called norms "empaths". She was quirky and sassy and I liked her. I was so pulled in to the story I didn't even try to solve it. And the ending was such a huge surprise. Well written, well paced and with fun and interesting characters. I loved this one, so glad I gave it a try! A huge thank you to the author and publisher for providing an e-ARC via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion regarding the book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    Never have I disliked a protagonist as early in a book as I did this one. This is definitely a DNF.

  29. 5 out of 5

    M

    Too many odd flashbacks and flash-forwards. I enjoyed the new and different protagonist, Dr. Gretchen White—a nonviolent sociopath and psychologist who consults with Boston PD detectives, Shaughnessy & Marconi. Both detectives are well-developed—and personable, unlike Gretchen who is a prickly character. The secondary characters, including the Kent family members and acquaintances, are mostly unlikable. I liked the complex murder mystery, but the convoluted domestic drama, not so much. The autho Too many odd flashbacks and flash-forwards. I enjoyed the new and different protagonist, Dr. Gretchen White—a nonviolent sociopath and psychologist who consults with Boston PD detectives, Shaughnessy & Marconi. Both detectives are well-developed—and personable, unlike Gretchen who is a prickly character. The secondary characters, including the Kent family members and acquaintances, are mostly unlikable. I liked the complex murder mystery, but the convoluted domestic drama, not so much. The author uses an unusual flashback/flash-forwards artifice, and although I’m used to time jumps that have some chronological order, this book’s timeline was a challenge. POV characters are 1) Gretchen, who anchors the reader in current-time, and 2) Reed Kent who has the time-jump chapters. Reed begins the prologue in current-time, but in the next chapter, he jumps to three months after his wife Claire’s death. Followed by a jump (back?) to one month after her death. He then jumps to three weeks BEFORE her death; then a month before; and further back in time. Reed eventually jumps to twenty years BEFORE Claire’s death. Next: six months AFTER her death. Then to seventeen years BEFORE her death. Et cetera. If I didn’t care about the timeline, this would’ve been a quick read. On my first go at this book, I read Gretchen’s fascinating POV chapters, but I speed-skimmed Reed’s with often-horrific domestic melodrama. After rewarding myself w/ a glass of pino noir, I re-read Reed’s chapters—beginning with the twenty-yr ago events, then proceeding to current time. That took care of the flipping flashbacks and flash-forwards. When I ignored the author’s time-jump artifice, this book was a decent read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This was my free July Amazon Kindle First Reads selection, and as usual, I chose 'unwisely.' Gretchen White is a sociopath, and if you didn't get that the first time the author mentions it on the first page, that's ok, because she will beat it into your head on every other page. Or she will make reference to sociopaths vs empaths. Jeez. Enough already. I got so sick of hearing about it. The author tried desperately to create drama, intrique, chemistry between the characters and particularly tried This was my free July Amazon Kindle First Reads selection, and as usual, I chose 'unwisely.' Gretchen White is a sociopath, and if you didn't get that the first time the author mentions it on the first page, that's ok, because she will beat it into your head on every other page. Or she will make reference to sociopaths vs empaths. Jeez. Enough already. I got so sick of hearing about it. The author tried desperately to create drama, intrique, chemistry between the characters and particularly tried to portray Gretchen as quirky, but all of the characters fell flat for me and I just didn't care about any of them. Gretchen was particularly unappealing and quite off-putting, but that most likely is because the author was clearly trying so hard (and failed) to create a specific image. I know in my reviews I continually harp on the current trend that all authors seem to be particularly enamored with, which is to alternate chapters between currently events and past events. Can no one just tell a story chronologically? But this one really takes the cake because the chapters in the past jump all over the place, mostly going backwards further into the past. Bizarre. The Tess storyline seemed like unnecessary filler and was left unresolved. But maybe it will come up later in the series in future books? Sadly, I will never know what happened to Tess as I will definitely not continue in this series. Crossing my fingers for a better choice for August.

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