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Kill Switch Hardcover – December 13, 2011

3.8 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Book Description

Brother turns on brother to Claire Waters is a dedicated forensic psychiatrist with unnervingly personal insights into the criminal mind. Haunted by a disturbing childhood incident, Claire has always been drawn to those rare "untreatable" patients who seem to have no conscience or fear. But one shocking case could make or break her career - and it's waiting for her in the psychiatric wing of New York City's Rikers Island. Quimby is a deranged inmate whose boyish good looks hide a sordid history of dysfunction and abuse, and he triggers something in Claire she'd rather not face. As she tries to unlock Quimby's past, she leaves herself dangerously vulnerable. When the case propels her into the mind of another killer - a homicidal maniac who's watching her every move - it could only end in madness, or murder, or both...Brilliantly constructed and breathtakingly suspenseful, Kill Switch is a masterful combination of murder, mystery, and modern forensics - and a stunning debut from a spectacular writing team.

A Conversation with authors Neal Baer and Jonathan Green

Q: What was your writing process like for Kill Switch

Neal Baer: We started out with an idea about this character of Claire Waters, a forensic psychiatrist, going to deal with a serial killer who’s being paroled, and how his behaviors start to affect her, then we devised the story. The process is very much like television, we spent a lot of time talking about the plot and what the fundamental issues of the book were. How does Claire deal with her past? How do we show the difference between faith and science? Why is she looking for a scientific explanation? Issues that percolate in the book came through our sitting there for hours talking through it and writing it on a board.

Jon Greene: We spent hundreds of hours talking through the story to get it to the outline stage so we knew what the plot was. Neal has a medical background and I have background in journalism and also working with police officers. It was a really good collaboration; the process was very easy, and also liberating to write when you’re working with someone you know and trust. We found ourselves polishing each other’s work.

Q: What was your approach for writing a female protagonist?

Neal Baer: I had met women who were psychiatrists while in medical school, so I had a sense of what they were like and how they were different from women who were in other medical specialties. They were more analytical and focused on the emotional issues in a patient. I was interested in women who are trying to find biological explanation for criminal behavior. Our approach to writing Claire Waters was that she was very scientific, but she’s trying to escape from her own issues too. If Claire wants to fix her problems she finds her own way.

Jon Greene: What was so fun about writing her was that it’s a very real way of going through life…sometimes we find ourselves doing things we would not do just to find the truth. Very much like the character Olivia Benson we wrote for Mariska Hargitay, she was also looking for answers.

Q: How did your love of classic film inspire your writing in Kill Switch?

Jon Greene: There are some classic film references in the book. Neal and I are both fans of the movie Vertigo Limits directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Neal thinks Vertigo is the most interesting Hitchcock movie because it is layered visually and psychologically. When we were writing Kill Switch we were able to pull elements of Vertigo as homage.

Neal Baer: Another classic film reference is a film the opposite of Vertigo—in the sense it is about obsession and Vertigo is a romantic film—is The Big Heat by Fritz Lang in the early 50s. It’s a beautifully constructed film about a corrupt town and a cop determined to do everything he can to help, but losing his soul in the process. Only with the relationship of a bad woman was he able to find redemption. When you read Kill Switch, and if you see the films, you’ll be able to illustrate things that happen in the book. I love characters that are off the edge and even sometimes fall off the edge. Obsession makes for great drama. Readers will find obvious illusions and anagrams in the book; you can even unscramble characters names and find they are similar to characters in The Big Heat and Vertigo. It may also help readers figure out different twists and turns in the book.

Q: What is next for the character Claire Waters?

Neal Baer: Claire has started a journey, and now we want to see where she ends. As a first year fellow, she needs to study and learn how to deal with criminals who are in prison and being paroled, and then maybe she’ll ultimately be on her own. She still has some learning and growing to do, and she has to get through some tragedies that have happened in her life. Claire will be able to do this in the next two books. She will also have the chance try out some different roles. First, she starts as a student and the she will get more leadership positions. She is a learner, then she will be a doer and she may even be a teacher. She is only 30; she has a huge career ahead of her. She has been pushed into roles she never experienced before.

From Booklist

A promising forensic psychiatrist with a prestigious fellowship for work with violent mental patients and an NYPD detective, newly reinstated to duty after being suspected of murdering his wife, team up to catch a serial killer. Both have deeply hidden secrets that may limit their effectiveness. Dr. Claire Waters still feels guilty about the kidnapping of her best friend by a murderous abuser many years earlier, and Detective Nick Lawler has retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable disease that leads to blindness. When Claire suspects that her patient, Todd Quimby, is killing young women after his release from Rikers Island, she goes to police and takes an active role in the case that Nick leads. He in turn helps her reach closure on the case that has haunted her since childhood. Nagging loose ends remain, leading to deadly risk for the protagonists and a suspenseful (if a bit contrived) conclusion. Still, characters and dialogue ring true in this promising debut by the former executive producers of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. --Michele Leber

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; First Edition edition (December 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758266863
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758266866
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,443,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Couldn't get past Claire's misguided idea of therapy. Manipulation and game playing in therapy BY the therapist are unforgivable sins in this reader's opinion. Such techniques offer anything but a safe environment for the client or patient be they criminal or good citizen.

Claire's emotional arc seems all over the place. She seems unable to remain objective and jumps to conclusions as a result. As for the bad boy detective, his emotional journey so closely mirrors Claire's that it makes the pacing seem repetitive. Both characters are distracted in the same way while trying to focus on whatever their job is at hand. Might be more satisfying if her strengths were his weakness and vice versa. Otherwise one character's problem is identical to the other's. How are they going to complement each other if they're both flailing around in the dark? If it's for conflict's sake, it's not working.

First books are often clunky, so I'd give these writers another shot just to see if their craft improves with their next book. Clearly screen writing is a different animal than novel writing.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe I shouldn't speak, cuz I worked in a different state... Supposedly one of the authors of this novel is a doctor himself... But I found the actions of the female psychiatrist/main character in this book to be totally unbelievable. I was employed for years in the prison system of another state, in case management and some counseling. I cannot imagine going to the lengths of cutting and coloring my hair to make it like the prisoner's girlfriend. Definitely would not have been left alone in a room with a closed door--let alone a locked door--with a client. Or called the offender by his first name, or allowed him to call me by mine. Or allow him to become physically close enough to grab me (one reason the door would have been open!). NY must be even more liberal than I thought.

And a main character whose sight has gone so bad he is a menace to others? Yet continues to drive? Apparently, we're supposed to still sympathize with him.

Besides that, I could see the murder of one of the major characters coming a mile away. And I wish, for once, a suspense novel would have a heroine (or hero) not damaged by past events which led her to choose her career field. How about some other reason, for a change? All these suspense novels built around doctors and law enforcement characters are beginning to seem the same. And this one is particularly BAD.
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Format: Hardcover
Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene are writers who have thrilled TV viewers with shows such as "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "E.R." With their first collaborative novel, the dynamic duo writes seamless narrative that keeps readers guessing---and gasping---until the end. The only problem is that a sea of red herrings makes guessing at what happens futile.

In 1989 Upstate New Yorker Claire Waters has a sixth-sense moment: She knows her childhood friend is being abducted, when a man tells the young girls he is there to take Amy to a hospital where her father is near death.

Flash forward to the present, Claire carries that sixth sense with her as she completes a fellowship in forensic psychiatry. She can't get Amy's abduction out of her mind, feels that she could have prevented it but failed her friend. Perhaps that's why she now treats prison inmates at Rikers Island, and the particularly troubling case of sex offender, Todd Quimby. But Dr. Claire Waters is obsessed with failure to prevent the kidnapping more than two decades ago and it is an obsession that needs a good couch session. "Obsession isn't part of the job. And I'm pretty sure changing one's appearance to get a rise out of a patient isn't in the shrink instruction manual." Physician, heal thyself.

Quimby is a smooth talker and pulls reverse psychology on Dr. Claire Waters, who in turn tries an unorthodox method of forcing Quimby to face his demons. Big time backfire, and a series of gruesome homicides happen that appear to be serial killings eerily similar to the one that occurred when Quimby was initially thrown into the slammer.

Nick Lawler is a homicide detective with New York's finest who had investigated that murder, and has just returned from an administrative suspension.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just finished this book. I can't believe it got 20 five-star reviews. Must be from people who normally watch TV instead of reading. Much like a TV show can keep you watching with a mini cliffhanger before a commercial, it did have me curious enough to keep reading, but by the time I was halfway through, I was becoming annoyed. The climax is like a Scooby Doo story where the crime solving heros find out old Mr. Fisher who ran the hardware store is responsible for all the paranormal-like goings-on. Good enough for a beach read, I suppose, but doesn't hold up against authors like Lee Child and Lisa Gardner. These guys should stick to what they do well: writing tv scripts.
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Format: Hardcover
I love a good mystery. I especially love a well-written mystery featuring an imaginative plot, believable characters I can care about, and an ending that doesn't leave me yawning. Despite all the positive hype about "Kill Switch", I was sorely disappointed in this mediocre first collaboration by Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene. Dr. Claire Waters is drawn as a brilliant but emotionally fragile psychiatrist who somehow changes right before our eyes into a daring and fearless heroine. Her love interest, NYC homicide detective Nick Lawler, is another flawed character whose back story is so carelessly explained that it renders him a one-dimensional prop at best. This book is not suspenseful, will not keep you up all night, and is unconvincing on all levels. The so-called medical conspiracy at the end of the book feels hastily tacked on rather than an organic part of the storyline. All in all, I can't recommend this book.
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