Published 2003

Mind Games

Psychiatrist Dr. Tim Dare’s life is falling apart: his wife has just left him, he’s being hauled before a disciplinary committee, and now someone’s threatening to kill him

In his gripping new novel, Mind Games, William Deverell returns to the intriguing territory of the law and lawyers and of human psychology and motivation, and he does so in familiar Deverell surroundings: the streets, courtrooms, and waters of Vancouver.

Dr. Tim Dare is a forensic psychiatrist whose life is in a mess: his wife has just left him to find herself; his mother is being sued for libel by a small-town mayor over a mystery novel; he’s been made the monitor of a man just out of psychiatric hospital, a man he considers a psychopathic murderer; he’s being hauled before a disciplinary committee; one of his patients is transferring feelings to him rather too romantically; and now someone’s threatening to kill him. He can’t even get into an elevator without falling apart. No wonder he thinks he needs to see a shrink himself. Under the guidance of fellow psychiatrist Dr. Allison Epstein, Dare gradually learns how to face the demons within – and those in the real world that are really out to get him.

"William Deverell is well known for his erudite legal thrillers... His best novels combine the insider's knowledge of the strength and foibles of the justice system with dense, complicated plots, great dialogue, and very human protagonists. In Mind Games, Deverell has turned his attention to psychiatry...

Mind Games is an exciting story, well told. The characters are engaging, a sense of impending doom penetrates every page. Which threat is imagined, and which one real? Whose version of the "truth" is to be believed? Are characters deluding others, or just themselves? Mind games, indeed!" The Globe & Mail

"William Deverell has a knack for surprising his readers while giving them exactly what they want. Rather than fall into predictability over the course of his dozen novels (a tempting rut that attracts many genre writers), he has experimented with setting and approach, characterization and theme to such a degree that a new Deverell novel is always genuinely unexpected and unique. What's common to all his writing is storytelling strength and a deft hand with characterization.

His latest novel, Mind Games, is no exception.

At its heart, this is a novel of character and growth within the context of violence and fear. The gradual dissolution of Dare's marriage, for example, is as significant as the identity of the murderer." Vancouver Sun

"When William Deverell is firing on all cylinders, as he is in Mind Games, he's as good a crime-thriller writer as anyone on the planet." Winnipeg Free Press

"Mind Games is a romp of a novel. It revs ever faster and faster. All the characters, even secondary ones, are fully realized, and irreverent humour abounds." Kingston Whig-Standard

Mind Games excerpt

Dr. Allison Epstein, M.S., B.S., F.R.C.P.(C.), M.R.C.


Clinical notes

Re: Dr. Timothy Jason Dare

Date of interview: Monday, July 21, 2003.

Age 35, d.o.b. June 7, 1968, 6’1”, lean at 171 lb., physically healthy, athletic in fact – he arrived on a bicycle and walked up eight flights of stairs - rumpled in appearance but reasonably clean-shaven, straight auburn hair falling below the shoulder, aquiline nose, unusually penetrating and deep-set green eyes, and otherwise regular in features.

At the beginning the patient presented as pleasant, even engaging though somewhat combative, but as the session progressed he grew increasingly anxious, narrating several bizarre - delusional? - incidents, the combined impact of which set him on the path to my door.

He is clearly suffering an acute stress disorder. This condition has been exacerbated by the sporadic occurrence of claustrophobic panic, an episode of which I witnessed as I accompanied him to the elevator. He hesitated there awhile, then took the stairs.

It would appear that the central contributing factor to the patient’s emotional deterioration is the recent failure of a relationship with his partner Sally Pascoe, 34, an illustrator of children’s books. The subject grew up with her in the same Vancouver neighbourhood, and they have lived together for the last twelve years.

Next session: it will be necessary to do some work on the other major contributors, which apparently include “stalking” by one or more persons (including a psychopathic murderer!) and “getting kicked in the scrotum” by the professional association of which we are both members, the College of Psychiatrists.

A partial transcript follows, with my notations. There was – perhaps to be expected – some preliminary jousting – he is, of course, a behaviourist. Later, I observed that occasionally, instead of responding to a question, he would seem to wander off into a world of his own.


I’m told you’re a good old-fashioned Freudian.

Does that seem démodé, Dr. Dare? I try to use an array of tools.

Yeah, well, he did some spectacular work with wealthy Viennese women suffering hysterical – or perhaps I should use the current newspeak, histrionic personality disorders - but … Never mind. Connelly says you’re good. Berkeley?

McGill before that.

What brought you to Vancouver?

My husband was offered a position.

You don’t wear a ring.

That’s right.

Assertive, independent, yet prepared to accommodate the aspirations of her goal-oriented partner.

I was warned about this.

Yes, that’s fairly put, I suppose … what do you prefer … Timothy? Tim?

What do you prefer?

Whatever you’re comfortable with.

How about you? Allison? Allie?

I’m Allis to my friends. Which is what I hope we’ll be after we stop sparring like newly met children in a schoolyard.

He took that the right way – he is capable of laughter.

I’m Tim to my friends. You’ll like Vancouver if it ever stops raining. Do you have kids?

I’m afraid not.

You’re working at it.

Very quick to pick up nuances.

What does he do? Your husband.

He’s a partner in a media consulting firm. They work with politicians, businesspersons, do some polling, public relations.

You a strong feminist?

Tim, I wonder if I might be allowed to ask some of the questions.

Sorry, but I was just wondering about your … Freudianness. Those Viennese women were victims of an age when gender oppression was the norm; he failed to factor that in-

Tim. Please. We only have an hour today.

Sorry. I suppose I’m procrastinating.

This self-diagnosis may be correct. His cross-examination of me and his brief rambles seemed, as well, an indicator not merely of discomfort but of a slightly manic state.

But let me ask – why me? I know Dr. Connelly gave you my name, but what kind of therapist were you looking for?

He said you did dreams. He said you were smart and attractive.

What does attractive have to do with anything?

I’m just repeating. Does that make me a sexist?


He laughed once more, genuinely. I must say in his favour that he seems not one to put on a false face.

But why me? I’ve only been in the business four years.

Okay, I wanted someone who didn’t know me from Adam. Someone new in town. Not set in her ways.

Or maybe someone who doesn’t feel offended by your published critiques of what you call the psychiatry industry?

That was very unprofessional of me.

I’m impressed – you’ve done some homework.

Tim, you mentioned on the phone that a number of things are bothering you…

Right, let’s get into it.

He finally took to the couch, folding his arms – I continued to sense resistance.

I’ve always thought this configuration too distancing. I prefer to see my patients - you read as much by watching as listening, even if it’s only the play of silence on a face. You’re of a different school – the mere presence of the therapist distracts the patient from the free flow of imagery.

You through?

Sorry. Okay, number one: my partner for life – or so I assumed - left me ten days ago. I’m having a hell of a problem coping. 

What’s number two?

I think I’m being stalked by Bob Grundison – you’ve heard of him, he stabbed Dr. Thelma Wiseman to death during a therapy session six years ago.

That’s a big item.

The bigger item is being kicked out of Sally Pascoe’s life like a bad habit.

All right, tell me about her first.

Sally Pascoe, she’s an illustrator, she does the Miriam series, Miriam’s Funny Picnic, Miriam Goes to France, ages five to eight. You can’t go into a bookstore without … well, maybe you don’t frequent the children’s section. There’s a therapeutic anomaly at work here, by the way - she wanted children, too. I was afraid I’d produce a freak, so that was one of the hot-button topics. But the thing is, I’ve known her since early childhood, it’s like a limb being chopped off, an appendage.

A limb ...

“I need to break out,” she said. “I need room to grow.” I moved out of our house, a bungalow in Kitsilano – you know that district? Anyway, now she has room to grow and I’m living on a boat at Fishermen’s Wharf. Foundering. I don’t know if she’s been having an affair, and I can’t bear the thought.

You’re speeding, Tim. I’m trying to catch up.

Excuse me.

You used the word “appendage.” Does that say anything to you?

That I …

A long pause here. Possessive of Ms. Pascoe, stifling her creativity? NOTE: Arrange to talk with her.

All right, I threw that out loosely, but I have your point – I was taking her for granted. Doing so blithely, thoughtlessly.

Why do you think she spoke of needing room to grow?

Familiarity was a prison. We’d known each other since grade one, for Christ’s sake. There’s more to it than that - I was a prison to her. She illustrated Miriam Goes to France without ever having been there. I’m phobic about flying – add that to your list, it’s going to be a long one. She wanted to travel; I kept her grounded....

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