Provocation by Jo Michaels is Story Two in the series: Pen Pals and Serial Killers. The novel is a vigilante story. We do not usually encounter a lot of vigilantes who are highly educated to the point they are psychiatrists. If the shrinks are going crazy, what hope is there for the rest of us? This review will look only at Story Two of the five-story plus a few chapters boxed set I downloaded from Amazon. Like Story One, this is a five-star Amazon read as Jo Michaels continues to amaze me with twisted outcomes.
Victoria had a reason for her actions of taking the law into her own hands. As a psychiatrist (she could write prescriptions), Victoria was more qualified than most to realize childhood experiences influence adult actions. Victoria would never qualify for an insanity defense because of the very deliberative actions she took in preparation before kills. She had a select client list, one that no one would compete to be on. All one must do to qualify is to commit violence against women. Victoria specialized in treating victims of domestic and child abuse. From victims, Vicky was able to identify perpetrators, always men. Anyone can go for simple revenge, but Vicky added an extraordinary refinement. Using medical records and victim confessions made to her, Victoria inflicted the same torture on the abuser as the errant husband/father had inflicted on her patients.
Dr. Victoria had not trained to be a torturer; her methods developed as a result of experience. Her father had abused her mother physically and horribly in from of Vicky and her brother. Vicky never suffered abuse from her father. She was daddy’s favorite. Perhaps she had seen hints of what might have been in store for her in the future, but nothing had happened by the time father taught her to hunt. He taught her to shoot and took her deer hunting. Readers should be able to anticipate what happened. I don’t consider it much of a spoiler, but I will leave it unsaid anyway. Victoria was on her way.
Logically, Victoria’s early experiences took place when she was young when she was not yet skilled in finding burial sites, building explosive warning devices, or selecting great disposal sites complete with alligators. All that would come with experience. As a young, inexperienced problem solver, she would run into problems with the law. She would get caught; it was inevitable. Reflecting a true anomaly in some elements of the American judicial system, a judge, without a jury, gave her a choice between incarceration in a juvenile facility or military service.
Suspension of disbelief time. The choice of a military option is realistic. The idea that Victoria was able to join the US Air Force (it is very selective) and learn how to make explosives (requires background investigations) is unrealistic. After leaving the Air Force, she takes a few courses to become a psychiatrist (the qualification takes a long time and involves several psych evaluations along the way) is also unrealistic. There is a reason this story is classified as fiction. These annoying observations can be ignored. Sit back and enjoy the story.
If a reader agrees with me and thinks the items above require a suspension of disbelief, get ready to throw away all expectations of reality with the ending. I don’t care; I liked it. The odds that such well-constructed plots and schemes on the part of Victoria and a few other characters could ever happen are like lottery odds, finding identical snowflakes, or finding people with similar earprints (used when fingerprints may not be available).
The writing is good. If Story Three is of similar quality, I will go to my highly recommended rating. Try not to read this too close to bedtime. You will be turning pages until dawn.