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book review

Give Me The Child

By Mel McGrath

HarperCollins, 326 pages, $21.99

Is there such a thing as a child psychopath? If so, can that child be "cured" or rehabilitated, or at least tamed to be safe? Those are just two of the vexing questions posed in this terrific psychological suspense novel. Dr. Cat Lupo is a psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of very disturbed, possibly dangerous children. She has a rather tired marriage to a games designer, a bright young daughter and a stressful role at her clinic. Then a child is dropped off at her house by the police. It seems that, years earlier, when Cat was pregnant with their daughter and suffering from a severe prepartum psychosis, her husband had a brief fling. Ruby, the child, is the result. Her mother is dead, a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning from a leaky heater. And Tom, who has never heard of her, is the next of kin. Ruby is so very different from Cat's own daughter, who welcomes her new half-sister. But events make Cat suspicious of Ruby. Is it just jealousy stemming from the affair? Or something more sinister …

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