June 12, 1978 12:00 PM

by Beth Holmes

Insanity is a terrifying subject. The prologue states that this work “seeks recognition of a problem…Timothy, Evie and Daniel Lowell are based on three real people. The other characters are fictional.” Timothy, 12 and big for his age, has been turned by his disturbed father into a violent potential killer. The book is an almost endless series of painful confrontations until the mother panics, faces the truth of what is happening to her son and flees with him to find help. Mixing fiction with polemic, unfortunately, satisfies neither art nor cause. The epilogue pleads for laws that will prevent the kind of emotional abuse that creates monsters like Timothy. Yet it’s difficult to see how any law enforcement official could intervene in time in such a private family catastrophe. But if Beth Holmes’ appeal seems confused, her tale is harrowing and powerful. (Marek, $10)

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