Claire Waters, a brilliant forensic psychiatrist haunted by a childhood tragedy, has always been able to unlock her patients' darkest secrets. But has she met her match in deranged Rikers Island inmate, Todd Quimby? Drawn into his twisted life and obsessions, Claire must face her own demons to save her life in this taut, visceral, fast-paced story of murder, mystery and medicine.
A heart-pounding glimpse into the world of forensic psychiatry, Kill Switch marks the powerful fiction debut of Neal Baer and Jonathan Greene – former executive producers of television's acclaimed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
HOW KILL SWITCH CAME TO LIFE
Eight years ago, Baer and Greene decided to combine their mutual love of film noir, murder mysteries and psychological thrillers into a story fueled by two people determined to unravel the dark inner workings of the criminal mind. Drawing inspiration from the betrayal and obsession of Hitchcock's classic Vertigo and the hardened cop narrative of Fritz Lang's The Big Heat, the team started on a detailed outline for a feature film that sat in Baer's desk drawer until one fateful day last year. In 2010, Baer and Greene's mutual agent at Paradigm asked if the duo had anything in the works, and Kill Switch was reborn as the first in a book series of medical thrillers.
Moving from TV to the novel allowed Baer and Greene to explore ways of creating rich, compelling characters beyond the constraints of dialogue. The result? A tightly wound cliffhanger that pays homage to the titans of spine-chilling film.
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Take a look inside the lives and minds of Kill Switch's main characters.OPEN >
Education: Harvard, MD
Specialty: Forensic psychiatry
Hair: dark brown, medium length
Current residence: Upper West Side, with boyfriend, Ian Bigelow
Character traits: fastidious, ambitious, borderline obsessive, inquisitive, analytical, eager to please, hopeful, unassuming
History: Witnessed the kidnapping of her childhood best friend, Amy, without ever finding a body or a suspect. Currently fighting for success in one of the nation's most rigorous and competitive fellowships, led by Dr. Paul Curtin. Like Quimby, Claire blames herself for the childhood trauma she endured, which haunts her incessantly.
Memorable quotes from Kill Switch: Most days Claire was a master at hiding in plain sight (p. 5).
(About her patients) She was determined to find the right questions [to ask them] in her research, a groundbreaking way of seeing psychopaths not as evil automatons with no conscience, but as individuals who had never felt fear and couldn't see it in others... "I want to fix them...(p. 9)."
"Childhood makes us who we are (p. 16)."
She was ready. She would help Quimby face his demons even if it meant breaching her own wall of emotional security (p. 45).
(To her mentor, Dr. Paul Curtin) "I wanted to show you I was more than just a lab rat (p. 54)."
Nick to had to admire her logic. If she wasn't a shrink, he thought, she might make a good cop (p. 134).
Name: Nick Lawler
Current title: Detective, NYPD, Homicide
Hair: dark brown
Current residence: Queens, with mother, Helen Lawler and two daughters, Jill and Katie
Character traits: strong-willed, supportive, dependable, family-focused, thorough, stubborn, astute, detail-oriented, somewhat judgmental, secretive
History: Witnessed the suicide of his wife, Jenny. The media frenzy and investigation surrounding her untimely death resulted in a demotion. As a result, Detective Lawler is increasingly secretive about his vision loss, knowing that his condition will cost him his badge. Like Claire, he's haunted by guilt and determined to overcome the odds to be both be successful and help people in need.
Memorable quotes from Kill Switch: (upon returning to homicide) Though he kept it to himself, Nick was happy for the first time in more than a year. He was out avenging murder victims, which he believed was doing God's work. He was back in the game (p 55).
Nick first noticed something was wrong five years ago when, late one night at home, he tripped down a flight of stairs. He shrugged it off as being tired, but when he hit a parked car the next week, he got scared... He was hiding his condition from his boss, his friends, from everyone, including himself. Instead of lying, he said nothing (p. 84 – 85).
(Claire's impression of Nick) She could feel the guilt inside him, ready to burst... He needed to tell someone. He chose me (p. 140).
Patient name: Todd Quimby
Assessment performed by: Dr. Claire Waters
Patient's previous arrests: Possession, Class A, cocaine.
Possession, Class B, methamphetamine.
Possession, Class B, MDMA. Criminal trespassing
Sexual abuse, third-degree
Family history: mother, Beth Quimby, was committed to a life term for killing her husband, Quimby's father in 1985. Raised by paternal grandmother in NYC. Paternal grandfather was a police chief in Appleton, WI. Marital status: single, never married. Quimby suffered sexual and physical abuse from his mother and was forced to watch his father perform sexual acts on himself and others before his death.
Doctor's assessment: Though Quimby's previous offenses seem to point to increasingly sexual crimes, the patient demonstrates no signs of psychosis. When pressed to describe the events of his father's murder, Quimby showed a clearly physiological reaction to his stressors and urges, sweating profusely as he described the sounds and sights of the carnival in great detail. Quimby feels responsible for his father's death because he was unable to stop his mother from catching him with another woman. Upon shooting his father and his lover and forcing Todd to see their bodies, Quimby's mother aimed the gun at Quimby, who was only 9. I believe that this emotional trauma has resulted in tendencies of exhibitionism and voyeurism with symptoms of anxiety.
Prognosis: Patient suffers from schizoid personality disorder. Prescribing antidepressant and Risperdal, as anti-psychotic. Recommending continued therapy 1x per week.
"A startling, intense suspense novel...the characters are real, the scenes are brutal, and the relationship of the protagonists will have readers staying up at night– with the light on– to see how this one turns out....Readers may just have found the next 'Preston & Child' team!" – Suspense Magazine
"Fans of high-octane, intricate thrillers will welcome TV producers Baer and Greene's fiction debut...delivered with skill." – Publishers Weekly
"Baer and Greene were producers on Law & Order SVU, which shows in this book’s tight plotting and carefully built suspense." – Romantic Times Book Reviews
"An exciting police procedural, fast-paced and filled with twists." – The Mystery Gazette
"Fans of psychological thrillers will look forward to more adventures with Claire Waters." – Library Journal
"A brilliant young forensic psychiatrist tries to outwit a serial killer." – Kirkus Reviews
"An extremely impressive debut... keeps the reader engrossed and guessing." – Bookreporter.com
"Deadly risk, a suspenseful conclusion... Characters and dialogue ring true." – Booklist
"A prime-time thriller . . . suspense on the order of Silence of the Lambs." – Denver Post
"Plenty of misdirection and some surprising twists make this a fast read." – Book Loons
"Entertaining... the story unfolds at the speed of a high speed train." – The Mystery Reader
Seeing Terror Risk, U.S. Asks Journals to Cut Flu Study Facts
Researchers have designed a form of avian flu that is highly contagious and lethal to humans. KILL SWITCH poses the question: How far should we take biological research before there's no turning back? Should some boundaries never be crossed? – The New York Times