A Tightly Raveled Mind

By: Diane Lawson Martínez

A psychoanalyst’s sanity unravels when several patients die and she falls for the private investigator she’s hired to help.

Categories: Adult | All Books | Fiction


A psychoanalyst's sanity unravels when several patients die and she falls for the private investigator she's hired to help.

"Diane Lawson's amazing insight into the mysteries and witchcraft of psychoanalysis...combined with her extraordinary writing skills makes this a one-of-a-kind novel that I found impossible to put down."—Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

Sigmund Freud would have liked Dr. Nora Goodman, a sexy forty-something psychoanalyst with her handful of neurotic patients who can't seem to allow themselves happiness, love, or success. She's not exactly a steady customer herself, born to a ranting bipolar Talmudic scholar and a mother with a heart as cold as a slaughterhouse on the Kansas prairie in January.

But now she has two kids and an overbearing psychiatrist husband. She hates him. She hates his insular social world. Nora wants a new life sans husband, but what she gets is something terribly different. It starts one Monday morning when her eight o'clock patient blows himself to smithereens. The following week, another patient dies. The police see the first as an accident, the second a straightforward suicide. Nora thinks her practice is being targeted by a killer. She hires private investigator Mike Ruiz, a tightly wound ex-cop who couldn't care less for Sigmund. "Oh, Freud," Mike says. "Isn't he dead?" Freud is always watching while the unlikely pair struggle to an unexpected end.

Diane Lawson was born and raised in La Russell, Missouri (population 128). She did her undergraduate studies at the University of Missouri, her psychiatric residency at Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, and her psychoanalytic training at the Institute for Psychoanalysis, also in Chicago. She has two children and lives and practices in San Antonio, Texas.

8 reviews for A Tightly Raveled Mind

  1. Kirkus Reviews
    A cunning, elegantly written comedy of manners in the form of a murder mystery in which a psychoanalyst finds her wealthy clientele dropping. Literally… The police believe these deaths to be accidents or coincidences; and since Nora, being a dedicated Freudian, believes in neither, she seeks help from an ex cop–turned–private detective named Mike Ruiz, whose sneering contempt for Freud seems to be shielding his own private demons. You’d think being in a world populated by such tightly wound neurotics would get dreary or annoying, or both. But Lawson, herself a San Antonio–based psychoanalyst making her publishing debut, makes the journey a pleasant one with a witty, assured narrative style that renders both physical and emotional scenery with economical astuteness and grace… Remember how amazed Norman Mailer was after reading George V. Higgins’ first novel that a member of “the fuzz” could write so well? Well, let it likewise be asserted of Lawson: This shrink can really throw it down.

  2. Publishers Weekly
    Lawson puts her professional experience as a psychoanalyst to good use in her engrossing debut, which melds an unusual mystery plot with insights into the inner world of a psychotherapist.

  3. Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone
    Lawsons’ insight into the mysteries and witchcraft of psychoanalysis─the lying on the couch kind of therapy─combined with her extraordinary writing skills make this a novel I could not put down. A Tightly Raveled Mind is a one-of-a-kind debut.

  4. Glen O. Gabbard, M.D., author of The Psychology of the Sopranos
    The classic film noir of the 1940s capitalized on the similarities between psychoanalytic sleuthing and the more earthbound work conducted by flatfoot detectives. In this engaging account of a Texas psychoanalyst’s nightmare, Diane Lawson revives this connection as she deftly interweaves crime-solving and psychoanalytic understanding of unconscious mental life in an absorbing read that will keep the reader turning pages long into the night. She is a master storyteller and an astute observer of the human condition. Fasten your seat belts!

  5. Domenic Stansberry, author of The Confession
    A wonderful debut, vivid and wry, luminous with detail—and an insider’s knowledge of what transpires on the psychoanalyst’s couch.

  6. Robert Boswell, author of Tubmledown
    [A] taut, lively, unconventional, surprising mystery—and it is beautifully written.

  7. David Liss, author of The Day of Atonement
    [A] simultaneously exciting, hilarious and insightful. Diane Lawson combines a smart mystery, insights into psychoanalysis, and an assortment of outrageous, yet strangely sympathetic, characters. This book is a blast.

  8. Stuart Yudofsky, author of Fatal Flaws: Navigating Destructive Relationships with People with Disorders of Personality and Character
    A gifted writer and consummate psychoanalyst, Diane Lawson provides a unique and exciting insider’s view of the contrasting minds, moods, and motives of an anxious clinician and a cynical detective as they join forces to solve a murder mystery.

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