The title is the key to unlocking secrets in “The Therapist” by B.A. Paris. The book opens in the “past” with unidentified participants in a short present-tense therapy session. These first person accounts appear periodically throughout the story, providing insights, posing questions, and hiding answers.
Alice and Leo have just moved into a new home in a gated community, “The Circle,” in London. It is a very pretty enclave, like a movie set depicting an enviable life in the capital city. Despite Leo’s reluctance, Alice invites the entire neighborhood to an informal housewarming party. It goes well, except that one unknown uninvited guest shows up. Neighbors caution Alice to be careful what she says to other neighbors, especially in a small community like “The Circle.” Alice discovers that “The Circle” has a clouded past, and her idyllic life starts to unravel.
Paris pulls readers into Alice’s story as events are revealed little by little. The tension increases as Alice seeks to understand the situation and mitigate her circumstances. She is alone, alienated from neighbors and from her husband; she really does not know whom she can believe. Her neighbors wonder if “she actually knows.” Knows what? People are lying, and untangling that web of lies is proving impossible, and if they are not lying, they are covering something up.
“The Therapist” drops clues slowly, one tiny hint at a time about what the house, “The Circle,” and the people are hiding. Readers go along with Alice as events unfold, as she thinks, speculates, suspects, and investigates. Sometimes she fears that she is in real danger, but at other times she thinks that she must just be imagining everything. Of course, there is also the question of “the house.” Will she stay? Go? Be safe? Can she find answers in the absolute stillness of that empty house?