Tench, by Inge Schilperoord

35080438Why do people commit crimes? Most mystery novels tell us that the most common motives are money, revenge, or strong emotion. But then there are people like Jonathan, the protagonist of Inge Schilperoord’s Tench (translated by David Colmer), who are probably doomed to be criminals. It’s just a matter of time. This disturbing novel is one of the most troubling books I’ve ever read because it takes us inside the head of a man who has the potential to commit the most abhorrent of all crimes.

We meet Jonathan on the day he gets out of prison. We’re not sure what he’s in prison for. In fact, he is released because there wasn’t enough evidence to convict him. All we know is that he is required to see the prison psychologist once a week and work his way through a book of exercises to deal with anger and stress. Jonathan has been methodically working to recognize his stressors and control his impulses. He is determined to do better when he gets out. He’s planned it all out; he just needs to stick with it.

Unfortunately, Jonathan’s little workbook and short time with the psychiatrist are weak tools considering what he is up against. Tench follows Jonathan in the weeks after his release as his plans start to fall apart. The impulses he is fighting against are deeply rooted in his psyche. Once he starts to rationalize, it’s all over. And yet, I still had a little bit of hope for him that things might turn out differently this time.

Tench is a hard book to get through because of the nature of Jonathan’s struggle.  I was tempted into requesting this book because I thought it would be interesting to take a look inside the head of a criminal. I’ve always been interested in motives. But I wish I hadn’t looked under this particular rock. This book is very well written, but the problem is that Jonathan’s thoughts are so taboo that I wanted to stop reading. I’m not sure I can recommend it to very many people. Perhaps I could suggest it to a criminal psychology student who also likes fiction.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration. It will be released 13 February 2018.

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