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The mind creates ghosts

Patrick McGrath's new novel isn't his best. But it's another example of his extraordinary talent for dissecting our inner lives, and for blurring the fine line between sanity and sickness

Trauma by Patrick McGrath (Bloomsbury, £14.99)

“Dread,” says Dr Charlie Weir, the psychiatrist-narrator of Trauma, “signals not the imminence of a catastrophic event, but… the memory of a catastrophic event, one that has already happened.”

By raising this observation towards the end of his new novel, Patrick McGrath is not only steadying the reader for a denouement, he is describing his own narrative method. Charlie is a New York City psychiatrist helping his patients to deal with traumatic events in their past while trying to sort out his own life, unaware that he too is being manipulated by a hidden…

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