State of Mind
John Katzenbach
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Get *State of Mind* delivered to your door! State of Mind
John Katzenbach
544 pages
March 1998
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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John Katzenbach envisions one possible future, shortly after the coming millenium, where criminal violence runs rampant, where Americans are more likely armed than not, where gated communities are taken to an intriguing extreme and where a serial killer resurfaces after a quarter century to make mockery of a budding sanctuary for the revised American dream of a safe haven. State of Mind poses interesting philosophical questions concerning what constitutes freedom, and it forces us to take a hard look at just where our nation might be headed if we continue down the road we're on. This sixth novel by the author of The Shadow Man and Just Cause proves to be a quite readable thriller of the serial-killer subgenre.

Curled Up With a Good BookJeffrey Clayton teaches abnormal psychology at a university in New England. He's a respected expert in the field of serial-killer profiling and has helped various law enforcement agencies put an end to more than a few killing sprees. A loner who fears that his profession is in fact an obsession, Jeffrey is approached by a security agent of the proposed Fifty-First State, where Americans searching out a place to live in safety from an ultraviolent world can do so -- for a price. As the proposed Fifty-First State nears a congressional vote to be granted statehood, the hushed-up disappearances and subsequent murders of several teenage girls there has got the politicos scrambling for answers. Although Jeffrey is reluctant to assist in the hunt for the killer, minions of the Fifty-First State convince him with a horrible possibility: these killings bear a marked resemblance to murders committed nearly twenty-five years ago, and the man responsible might be the father Jeffrey has thought dead for nearly as long.

Jeffrey's sister Susan creates word games for a Miami magazine under the pseudonym "Mata Hari" and cares for their dying mother in their home in the swamps of the Upper Florida Keys, the home the small family escaped to years ago after fleeing an abusive husband and father. Susan starts receiving cryptic puzzles that reveal a disturbing content when solved. "I have found you," the first reads. "I have always been with you," reads the next. The most frightening message is delivered to Susan via a Miami streetperson: "I want what was stolen from me." Susan's mother, Diana, begins to suspect that her worst fears have come to pass, that the man she fled all those years ago did not truly die and has come to seek vengeance.

Jeffrey reaches the same conclusion as his mother, and, fearing for their safety, convinces Susan and Diana to join him in the Fifty-First State. The stakes grow ever higher, and mother, brother and sister must try to unlock the secrets of the most dangerous man in their lives before he kills again, and before he can bring to fruition a lifetime's measure of vengeance upon the family from his past.

State of Mind brings compelling speculation about America's future together with the chilling, deadly race to know the mind of an homicidal madman. Fast-paced and gripping, if a wee didactic at times, this latest novel by John Katzenbach will keep suspense readers up way past their bedtimes.

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