Thursday, March 18, 2010

Review by JD: The Manufactured Identity by Heath Sommer


  • The Manufactured Identity
  • by Heath Sommer
  • ISBN: 978-1-60969-550-4
  • Pages: 305 - paperback
  • Tate Publishing, 2009
  • Genre: Psychological Suspense

This is a challenging book that is quite difficult to read. There is a reward at the end and I’m glad that I stuck with it and made it through, but I suspect that quite a few readers will not.

It isn’t a particularly long novel so why is it difficult to read? Two reasons. Firstly, it’s a psychological thriller based around some deeply disturbed or damaged characters that it’s initially tough to relate to (indeed it’s tough to relate to some of them even once you finish the book). Secondly, the story is initially structured around no less than eight different story threads, and until the threads started coming together I found it tough to keep on top of the names, characters and storylines. Many times I found myself flicking back through the book to find or remind myself what had gone before.

Sommer is himself a clinical psychologist and it shows - this novel is a psychological thriller in the truest sense of the phrase. The story is based around a group of women whose partners have disappeared. The circumstances differ but usually the men have simply vanished with no explanation, leaving the women to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. Meanwhile two men are struggling to come to terms with their past; one had a totally horrific childhood that left him twisted and mentally damaged, while the other gradually realizes that everything he knows about his past is untrue and in fact his mind has blocked all real memories from him. He doesn’t even know his real name. One man seeks the help of a clinical psychologist while the other turns to a trainee pastor, who himself has a troubled past. Every main character in the book is troubled and trying to find some answers or some semblance of stability. Gradually all the pieces drop into place and the connections between the characters become clear, with some surprises at the end.

Once you get over the initial difficulties of the storyline structure, you do get drawn into the plot and you can’t help but wonder how things will work out for the various characters. Some characters you care about, some you loathe and some you puzzle over, but I was pulled along by wanting to find out how it all ended for each of them. In the end I’d say I enjoyed the read, though if you’d asked me when I was half way through the book I’d likely have given you a different answer.

If you like complex stories based around dark and damaged characters, then this one is for you. One of the twists at the end of the book leaves a nice loose end, and apparently there will be a couple of follow-on novels published this year.

I’d rate the book 3 Stars.

For purchasing information, author data, and more – please link to the preview of The Manufactured Identity.

Comments welcomed and personally addressed by John. Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.


ThePageTurner said...

I expected so much more out of this book. I had actually forgotten the characters and the plotline until I read your review. I think I gave it 3 stars for the fact that it held me long enough to finish.

Unknown said...

Rose -
I remember you giving it 2 stars.. on Goodreads. But as you know my memory stinks.

I am you first follower! Welcome!

John D said...

Hi Rose,
Good to hear from you - how are you doing? This one was a toughie, but I thought the plot was interesting, and that kept me going.

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