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All of Us

Review

All of Us

I have always had an interest in stories about multiple personalities --- whether it be classic literary horror like THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE or more contemporary works like SYBIL, PRIMAL FEAR and THE EIGHTH GIRL, the latter of which I reviewed just a few months ago. Now, debut author A. F. Carter enters the fray with the release of ALL OF US.

The book’s prologue introduces us to Carolyn Grand as she hikes up her short skirt and approaches a gathering of police cars at an intersection in Brooklyn. Her target is Sergeant Louis Brady, who is thrown for a loop when the young woman seems to completely change personalities while speaking to him. The name “Carolyn Grand” appears on her identification card, but Carolyn does not normally make an “appearance.” Brady has been talking mostly to the promiscuous Eleni, just one of a handful of personalities that occupy Carolyn’s body.

"Readers will feel for Carolyn and find themselves rooting for her and the majority of her very likable personalities, which she has created as a defense mechanism for dealing with the world around her."

The need for additional personalities to protect Carolyn has come about due to the many years of mental and physical abuse that she suffered as a child at the hands of her father, Hank. Ever since he was imprisoned, Carolyn has lived in the New York State foster system and, now as an adult, in a minimally supervised apartment in Brooklyn that includes regular psychiatric visits. As she is sitting in the office of her new psychiatrist, Dr. Laurence Halberstam, the current occupying personality is Victoria, who is described as a put-together people person. Still, Carolyn needs to make a good impression during these sessions to avoid being sent back to the violent psych ward at nearby Kings County Hospital.

Her other personalities are Martha, a homemaker; Serena, a free spirit; Kirk, a heterosexual man; and Tina, a manifestation of what is left of a much younger Carolyn after years of sexual abuse. Although she doesn't trust this new guy, Carolyn and company are willing to make a go of it in order to continue living life with little to no daily supervision. All of this comes to a grinding halt when the good doctor shares with Carolyn news that her father is about to be released from prison after serving the majority of his 30-year term.

Hank wants to make amends, and Dr. Halberstam reads Carolyn a letter in which he professes how sorry he is and hopes that his little girl has been able to escape his evil. Carolyn swears that he has been following her as she takes her daily walk around Brooklyn, but cannot prove anything when she calls for help. Eventually, Hank does approach her and sticks a small piece of paper in her purse requesting that she meet with him the next evening at a specific location. She has no desire to do so and chooses to stay home.

Carolyn is surprised when two NYPD detectives show up at her door wanting to know her whereabouts on that very night, as it seems that someone brutally murdered Hank at a nearby hotel. Even though there was no love lost between them, he was a career criminal who certainly made a lot of enemies while in prison and could have been a target for any of these nameless characters. But could one of Carolyn's protective personalities have taken out retribution on daddy dearest while she was allegedly spending a quiet evening at home watching TV?

ALL OF US is not SYBIL or the other books I referenced about dissociative personality disorder, but it is an interesting exploration into this condition and the difficulties that arise when dealing with a myriad of personalities in the midst of a murder investigation. Readers will feel for Carolyn and find themselves rooting for her and the majority of her very likable personalities, which she has created as a defense mechanism for dealing with the world around her. That said, we have read and seen enough about this disorder to know that it also could be used as a convenient crutch when getting away with various misdeeds. Including murder!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 19, 2020

All of Us
by A. F. Carter

  • Publication Date: June 2, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press
  • ISBN-10: 080214943X
  • ISBN-13: 9780802149435