Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet

Published: 2022.1. First lines. 2. Cover Text Publishing 3. Woman and Mirror [Public Domain] via Public Domain Pictures

A writer, “GMB”, interested in a controversial 1960s therapist called Collins Braithwaite, receives some journals allegedly written by a patient of Braithwaite’s. “Case Study” is the book written by GMB about Braithwaite, combining the writer’s research and the contents of the journals.

The crimes of psychiatry are legion, but they can mostly be attributed to a single cause: the idea that the therapist knows more than the patient.

A totally engrossing and cleverly structured novel. As a reader, though, I was disappointed with the ending. I needed more clarity. The Guardian also comments on how engrossing this novel is: “This is a novel that is entertaining and mindfully engrossing in equal measure.”. Kirkus, however, has the opinion that “the author’s layering of his fictional characters’ unverifiable testimony, frank deception, and self-aggrandizing half-truths with significant historical figures of the time—like R.D. Laing and Dirk Bogarde—and GMB’s omnipresent frame narrative overlap to the extent that it’s hard to tell not just whose perception to trust, but which among all these counterfeit identities is real”. This opinion is in contrast to the Financial Times: “Burnet’s greatest achievement (with this novel) is making you care about a woman whose name you don’t know, a doctor you don’t want to know and a story you can’t trust. Constantly inventive, caustically funny and surprisingly moving, this is one of the finest novels of the year.”


I am convinced, you see, that Dr Braithwaite killed my sister, Veronica. I do not mean that he murdered her in the normal sense of the word, but that he is, nonetheless, as responsible for her death as if he had strangled her with his bare hands.

“The tarmac of the path glistened like ink. I imagined stepping into it and slowly sinking up to my waist.”

“I long ago resolved never to become a Modern Independent Woman. I do not myself understand this current mania for freedom. It seems to me that we would all be a good deal better off if we accepted our lot in life, rather than struggling to throw off some imagined shackles.”

Author: Graeme Macrae Burnet

Awards: Shortlisted, Ned Kelly Award for Best International Crime Fiction, 2022 Longlisted, Booker Prize, United Kingdom, 2022


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