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. Two years ago, Veronica threw herself from the overpass at Bridge Approach in Camden and was killed by the 4.45 to High Barnet. You could hardly imagine a person less likely to commit such an act. She was twenty-six years old, intelligent, successful and passably attractive. Regardless of this, she had, unbeknown to my father and me, been consulting Dr Braithwaite for some weeks. This I know from his own account.
When a young woman becomes convinced that her sister’s therapist was responsible for her suicide, she assumes an alter ego and presents herself as a client at his clinic, determined to get to the bottom of the charismatic therapist’s relationship with her sister. But just who is she convincing with her performance of the deeply troubled Rebecca?
Case Study is a game of cat-and-mouse between therapist and patient, between truth and deception, and between author and reader. It is a novel seething with secrets and teasing questions about the nature of identity itself, an enthralling, playful and layered depiction of 1960s society and the radical psychiatry propounded by R. D. Laing.
‘A thrilling investigation into sanity and identity.’
‘Fun and funny, sly and serious, a beguiling literary game that manages to say more about the nature of the self than any number of more self-consciously solemn works.’
‘A novel of mind-bending brilliance. Graeme Macrae Burnet is a master of muddying the waters, of troubling ideas of truth and identity, fiction and documentary, and Case Study shows him at the height of his powers.’
‘Burnet’s triumph is that it’s a page-turning blast, funny, sinister and perfectly plotted so as to reveal – or withhold – its secrets in a consistently satisfying way. It also does a fine job of keeping our sympathies shifting, and of conjuring up a lost cultural era. Rarely has being constantly wrong-footed been so much fun.’
‘What’s real and what’s not is beside the point in this skilful portrait of a disturbed woman and her encounters with an experimental 1960s psychotherapist…Both strands quickly become compelling…I was hooked like a fish.’
‘This is a novel which, like Macrae Burnet’s previous ones, holds the attention, develops an insidious narrative interest, and poses questions about the nature of the self and the authenticity of identity…As in his other novels, Macrae Burnet writes with an admirable lucidity, at the same time being able to probe and shed light on the dark places of the mind. Writing in a prose that is spare, deadpan and yet alive, he poses questions about the nature and perception of what we choose to call reality. He is an uncommonly interesting and satisfying novelist.’
‘Sinister and cleverly done, it oozes a grubby drabness that punctures the myth-making of the period.’
‘The defining essence of Burnet’s work to date is to be found in this kind of literary gamesmanship, a brand of metatextuality that is as much about exploiting the possibilities of the novel form as it is about blurring the boundaries between appearance and reality… Burnet has always delighted in undermining such easy assumptions, and in Case Study he ups the stakes still further, providing a veritable layer cake of possible realities to get lost in…Entertaining and mindfully engrossing in equal measure.’
‘Audacious and very clever.’
‘An unparalleled joy.’
‘A disorienting, darkly funny novel, constructing a tale about the labyrinth of identity within the game-like frame of metafiction.’
‘A cunningly constructed, intriguing and disturbing tale full of misdirection and resonance.’