Panic Attack By Jason Starr

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This is a thriller with many odd angles.

In some ways it's social commentary. After the main character shoots and kills an intruder in his house, the New York City media attacks him as a mad dog killer. There's even a lot of indications the author agrees with them, even though he makes it clear that he and his family were in danger, though mainly from the second intruder who wasn't shot, and he nearly was killed by the second intruder.

In a way this novel is a sustained attack on the profession of psychiatry. The main character is a psychiatrist who finds it nearly impossible to carry on a normal conversation with his wife and daughter. And despite his psycho-analyzing of everything and everybody including himself, still goes off half-cocked.

Police do advise people who hear prowlers at night that, after calling 911, they should just wait barricaded in their bedrooms for the police to come, and not to confront the intruders themselves. This novel is a answer to what could happen if you don't follow that advice.

Dr. Adam Bloom gives in to his impulse to actively protect his wife and daughter, and it costs him everything. Nobody, including apparently the author, sympathizes with him going after the intruder even though the main was climbing the steps to the second floor where the family was still waiting for the police to arrive.

True, it turns out that man wasn't armed (because, as it turns out, he knew the family was supposed to be gone on vacation because he was their maid's on again, off again boyfriend), but Bloom couldn't know that.

Personally, I feel that if you're going to break into somebody's house to steal their belongings, you should know you're taking a chance and don't deserve any sympathy and somebody who shoots you should be hailed as a hero. But then I don't live in New York City where criminals are celebrated instead of real heros.

Even the author seems to criticize Bloom for emptying the entire magazine of the gun into the man, in his determination to make sure the man was gun. The author wants this to indicate that he really was a killer under his professional surface.

I don't know. When that adrenaline is pumping through you, I can see why people get excited and do things they wouldn't ordinarily do and which don't make total sense in the light of day when you look back calmly.

And sure he didn't threaten Bloom with a weapon, because he wasn't carrying one, but in the darkness late at night with a strange man walking up your steps are you supposed to wait until you're threatened until you protect yourself and your family? Maybe you're supposed to let the intruder kill you and your family so the media can celebrate the criminals, make movies glorifying them.

The author even gives the second criminal a background of boyhood abuse to show why he's the criminal he is.

The development of plot and character is well done and carries you through most of this book, until the very end. I see the logic of the ending, but it's not satisfying.

I can't explain why without giving it away. Perhaps I'd like it better if I liked the daughter, but her judgment is just as poor as those of her parents, but she does have the excuse of being young.
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Panic Attack By Jason Starr

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This article was published on 2010/12/15