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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
More than likely, you’ve most often seen the people that Susan J. Lewis writes about in her book, From Deep Within, in TV crime shows. Now and then, you might even have come across some of them wandering around your neighborhood. Odds are, of course, that these people are the ones you’d avoid: smelly derelicts, foul-mouthed hookers, tattooed drug users, pedophiles and though you might not recognize them as such, schizophrenics or even murderers. And it might be hard, when you see or meet one of these people, not to make assumptions or pass judgement on how or why they became who they are. But that is what a forensic and clinical psychologist like Susan J. Lewis had to do from the first day she began working with folks like these, and as you’ll find out when you read From Deep Within - and you should - that is anything but easy.
The nice thing about reading psychological thrillers is being able to read the last page and think, “That was a riveting read; thank heaven it’s only fiction!” From Deep Within is more than riveting: it’s shocking, eye-opening, often very frightening, but sadly, non-fiction. Erin was found in her bed, covered in blood and lying next to her dead son, while her poisoned daughter lay dead nearby. Did she really kill them? She says she didn’t. Susan believed her until…? Ralston, 60 years old and sexually abused as a child, abused one boy after another until he was convicted of murdering one during sex in the woods. He told Susan the boys wanted it and that he wasn’t dangerous. Why then did she feel so tense and frightened when she interviewed him?
And what of all the people who find relief from inner pain by cutting themselves? Why do they do it? Or what about all the rehab and institution programs that are supposed to help these unfortunate souls who hear voices telling them to commit atrocities they don’t remember or think they didn’t do? Why don’t they take their meds and what happens when they forget or intentionally stop? And then there are the competency hearings: is the accused capable of standing trial? If they do, will they get a fair trial? Or, if someone like Susan decides it is safe to let an inmate return to the community, how can she be 100% sure they won’t hurt someone in the future?
Readers who care about people, who wonder why so many go astray while others live a good and productive lives, will gobble up the pages of this book faster than they would a psychological thriller. From Deep Within is chilling; its characters are unforgettable. More importantly, they are real: you couldn’t create more complicated characters. Susan J. Lewis shares their stories, not with a clinical distance or intellectual analysis, but with compassion and understanding. An absolutely compelling and highly recommended read.