The Therapy House, Julie Parsons

Review Written By
Karen Chisholm

Kiwi-Irish author Julie Parsons book THE THERAPY HOUSE is an intricate pscyhological observation, interweaving current day crime with Irish history to great effect.

Exploring history and crime in terms of it's impact on survivors and/or families and on society in general, THE THERAPY HOUSE is absorbing, chilling, intricate and beautifully written. At the heart of the novel, Garda Inspector Michael McLoughlin is attempting retirement, doing a bit of PI work on the side, but mostly restoring a beautiful old house in the Dublin suburbs - a house that turns out to have as complicated a past as McLoughlin himself. McLoughlin's father was murdered many years ago, supposedly getting in the way during an IRA robbery, an event that haunts him to this day, especially as the killers now have a high profile part to play in Irish politics and the peace process.

The house which plays a big part in keeping him grounded, safe and occupied, is known as "The Therapy House" because of its past use as a counselling and medical practice. In a further sign that history is never far away from him, next door lives John Hegarty, retired judge, having had a distinguished legal career and importantly, the son of Dan Hegarty, colleague of well known Irish independence figure Michael Collins. Until he is killed, and McLoughlin discovers his brutalised body. The family hire McLoughlin to look into Hegarty's background, although the agreement is part hiring, part bribing with the suggestion that there is something in that past that relates to the death of McLoughlin's father.

Needless to say, layering and interconnections are a big part of style of THE THERAPY HOUSE. Slowly and intricately dissecting those layers and connections is part of what makes this novel so absorbing, as is the way that readers are frequently left to draw conclusions, and answer many of the questions posited by the author. The pace is leisurely, the sense of place strong, and sense of culture all consuming. The way the past affects the current is elegantly done as well with everything - from the therapy house itself, the location, the Hegarty and McLoughlin families, Ireland's troubled background - blending together to create echoes and portents, guidance and regret. 

In the end there's a lot of regret thoroughout this novel, there's a real sense that it doesn't matter sometimes how often we're given a chance to learn lessons, we're going to be too old to do anything about it by the time we remember them.

Year of Publication

On Sundays peace was restored. He would lie down, dream and remember. He would enjoy. And later on the bell would ring. He would get up and walk downstairs. He would open the front door. And his life would come to an end . . . 

Garda Inspector Michael McLoughlin is trying to enjoy his retirement – doing a bit of PI work on the side, meeting up with former colleagues, fixing up a grand old house in a genteel Dublin suburb near the sea. 

Then he discovers the body of his neighbour, a retired judge – brutally murdered, shot through the back of the neck, his face mutilated beyond recognition. McLoughlin finds himself drawn into the murky past of the murdered judge, which leads him back to his own father’s killing, decades earlier, by the IRA. 

In seeking the truth behind both crimes, a web of deceit, blackmail and fragile reputations comes to light, as McLoughlin’s investigation reveals the explosive circumstances linking both crimes – and dark secrets are discovered which would destroy the judge’s legendary family name.

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