A psychological thriller of 312 pages, The Method by Duncan Ralston is available through Kindle Unlimited for free reading. I nominated this book for selection through the Kindle Scout Program. The novel was selected so I received it at no cost and it appears on the Amazon site as a verified purchase. And then there is the remaining option of purchasing it for USD 2.99. It is a clever story with lots of twists and turns revealed through the muddled minds and thinking of the characters. The reader is invited to go along and try to keep up. It is a quick, one session reading experience with almost no sex BUT lots of physical violence. And readers can argue over the definitions of mental agony Frank and Linda encounter.
Frank and Linda knew they were made or each other. They had dated for six years before marriage. After only one year into a three-year marriage, Linda entered a lengthy and painful battle with cancer. Although victorious in battle, Linda was a changed person; one that was difficult for Frank to accept. Their marriage was falling apart through a combination of ennui and misunderstanding. Frank and Linda accepted an invitation from good friends Trevor and Dillon to go rock climbing, an extreme sport the unhappy couple had enjoyed before Linda’s cancer but an activity they had allowed to lapse. It was good to see Trevor and Dillon back together because Frank and Linda knew they had been on the verge of divorce. Now Dillon and Trevor were the picture of a perfect loving family. Linda had questions about how this had come about. Seemingly reluctant to talk about it, Trevor finally mentioned that he would send Frank the contact information about a retreat that helped married couples heal. Neither Trevor nor Dillon would answer questions directly and Linda had many. Her friends had several bruises which they said were a result of a motorcycle accident. But despite the unfortunate accident, Trevor and Dillon assured their friends that the Method worked.
Arriving at the retreat located (naturally) in a wooded hilly area, Frank and Linda had to immediately give up their phones and submit to strict rules. Linda’s phone was a part of her so there was resistance. Frank liked his alcohol and marijuana but would not be allowed his hobbies at the retreat. The couple was housed in separate rooms which surprised them. Linda was also surprised and angry to discover the hidden cameras in her room. Complaints to Alex, a concierge, were ineffective as he pointed out to the couple that they had signed a contract and the cameras were a listed condition.
The Method was effective because of the limited number of patients per treatment session. When Neville and Terry showed up at the retreat, the maximum number of two couples per treatment session was reached and the games, the Method, could begin. The two couples would not become friends although the stunning Terry tried to develop a sexual relationship with Frank. Linda could fantasize about the handsome Neville but fantasies not realized weren’t really cheating. When the television in Linda’s room turned on automatically, Linda found that Frank’ fantasies were further along on the path to realization than her innocent fantasies. It seems that during the retreat client weaknesses were revealed or provoked.
There have been many well documented studies about how far everyday, normal people will go in the commission of cruel and sadistic behavior as they choose between morality and survival. This novel will appeal to readers with this interest. Readers who like to read about clever deception and deceit will like this novel. Depictions of extreme physical violence make this unsuitable only for those who find horror novels objectionable. The Method would interest most young adult (YA) readers I know. The characters of Frank and Linda are well developed. The development of all other characters takes a back seat to the storyline that questions reality at almost every turn.