Book Reviews Mental Health

Book Review: The Sinner

The SinnerThe Sinner by Petra Hammesfahr
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wish I can offer a higher rating. The book captivated me from the start. It discussed at great lengths two subjects that I am very interested in – Adverse Childhood Experiences and Brain Injury.

In my opinion Petra Hammesfahr did an excellent job in illustrating little by little, how a dysfunctional family albeit one with no physical or overt sexual violence can ruin a child’s life. Cora Bender struggles through her childhood with no pragmatic concept of social values or self worth. There are fragments of this book that reminds me of Stephen King’s Carrie, when a religious fanatic mother causes severe destruction to the life of her child in her bizarre endeavours to lead her offspring to a grossly misinformed path. I feel Cora Bender is reasonably convincing as a brain injury survivor. Her sporadic mood swings, random ramblings and her altered sense of reality compounds the already complex circumstances surrounding the story.

What infuriates me to no end is realism, or the lack of in Hammersfahr’s depiction of the police work and subsequent ‘happy ending’. Police Commissioner Rudolf Grovian is utterly unsold by an open and shut case; he rejects an otherwise straight forward case and delve deeply into the psychiatric condition of Cora Bender. When the DA, defence attorney even the state appointed (well-reputed) psychiatrist appears indifferent about the truth pertaining to Cora Bender’s mental condition, a police officer takes matter into his own hands and dedicates most of his resources to prove the innocence of a mentally ill woman who killed a man in front of dozens of witness. The only attempt by Hammesfahr to explain Grovian’s unnatural interest in Bender is the brief and flimsy description of Grovian’s relationship with his estranged daughter.

Overall, I feel like Hammesfahr is writing a Hollywood or Disney story about killers with mental health issues. These days when one randomly pins a psychiatric condition to the instigator of every inexplicable murder or mass killing, I resent greatly how this book simplifies and glorifies the real world treatment of many less attractive, older, angrier and hairier versions of Cora Bender.

So a man saves an otherwise helpless damsel in distress. She gets a chances to live happier ever after. I want my money back please.

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