The Mad Man’s Tale by John Katzenbach

Book Title: The Mad Man’s Tale

Author: John Katzenbach


John Katzenbach’s novel, The Madman’s Tale is an exciting read initially as we are lead on the trail of a serial killer inside a mental hospital.


The novel shifts between traditional third person retelling by the observing author to a first person narrative reflection on events which occurred in the character’s past. It subsequently drifts to centre on an obsession which still haunts the former inmate of Amherst Hospital who is the novel’s central focal point.


Unfortunately The Madman’s Tale suffers from the over-telling of too much of modern fiction. The story cannot sustain its 900 pages plus and rapidly becomes an interminable exploration of every step of the murder investigation at the heart of the plot and the mindsets and animosities of the three main characters.


Katzenbach’s prose, despite some enlightened moments cannot carry this doorstop of a book and finally, I became so tired of it that I needed to put it down and revisit it a number of times in an attempt to rekindle my interest in the narrative.

It is always poor form to reveal the perpetrators or perpetrator of the crime in a review and I shall not betray the author nor the reader by doing so here. It must be stated, however that the ending is decidedly unsatisfying.

The Mad Man’s Tale is published in Australia by Random House .