When psychoanalyst Jerry Simpson rescues a young girl from an abusive existence and takes her home with him to Canada it soon becomes apparent that the girl is suffering from more than trauma. She is mute, locked in an autistic world that Jerry and his colleagues find impossible to infiltrate. They quickly stop seeing her as a fascinating case study and fall beneath the spell of her child like innocence. But when Inez is found leaning over Jerry Simpson’s dead body and is accused of his murder, Jerry’s partner, Caitlin, is motivated to discover not who killed him but why he was killed. Caitlin is forced to confront and overcome uncomfortable suspicion, damaged trust and inner emotional conflict to penetrate Inez’ psyche to discover why her lover died.
When I began to read this book I had no idea what to expect. It is not my genre of choice and I am unfamiliar with both the setting and the psychological problems that Inez suffers. As a consequence it was a real adventure for me; a journey into a world that I soon found totally absorbing and it was immediately apparent that I was in very capable hands.
The Girl in the Box is an intelligent read. I don’t usually enjoy flashbacks but here they serve to illustrate the perplexed state of Caitlin’s mind. Sheila Dalton’s characters are fascinatingly complex and interact so naturally that you forget you are reading a book at all. The narrative is beautiful, her descriptions delicately evocative yet she never shies away from the truth of any situation. The violence is harsh, the love making sensuous and at times the narrative is uncompromising but what makes it wonderful for me is the way Sheila reveals Caitlin and Inez’s inner trauma. Their pain is understated, the scenes lightly but powerfully written providing total credibility and heightening the stunning impact of the final chapters.
I highly recommend this book whether you enjoy psychological drama or not. The characters linger long after the turn of the final page. Like people that you have met once and may never meet again, you worry about them and wonder how they are. This is not a book that you will want to give away, put it on your book shelf and read it again and again.