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Book Review: Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

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Murder in a psychiatric hospital. A 17-year-old patient is stabbed to death — there are over 300 puncture wounds to his body. He is found in his bed, and lying nearby on the floor is another patient, Max, who was supposed to be restrained in his own bed. Max is unconscious and the murder weapon is cradled in his lap. Making this discovery is Danielle, Max’s mom.

Saving Max is a thriller that combines elements of both Robin Cook and John Grisham to provide a satisfying story that kidnaps the reader’s imagination and doesn’t let go until the very end.

 Danielle Parkman is a hardworking associate in a prestigious law firm, and is up for partnership. She is also a dedicated — some may think too dedicated — single mother of a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome. When Max begins expressing violent outbursts, Danielle takes him to the premiere treatment center, in Iowa, far from their Manhattan home. It’s a beautiful facility with a fantastic reputation, and Danielle’s hopes are high.

When Max is diagnosed, Danielle finds the diagnosis to be frightening and wrong. Before she can attempt to remove Max from the hospital, she is slapped with a temporary restraining order forbidding her from contact with her son. Is the hospital experimenting on her child? Are his records falsified? Before Danielle can find answers to these questions, there’s a murder, and Max is the prime suspect.

Author Antoinette van Heugten has 15 years’ experience as a trial lawyer practicing international law. She is also the mother of three children, two of whom are autistic. Combining her familiarity with both the law and children with autism, she has skillfully woven a tale of duplicity, narcissism, malpractice, and, above all else, love.  And… what could be better… it has a shocking conclusion!

Bottom Line: Would I buy Saving Max? Definitely. I seldom read fiction, but this book was well worth the time. I’m looking forward to van Heugten’s next novel (it’s rumored to be a psychological thriller). Saving Max will hit the street September 28.

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