September 27, 2011 / ISBN 978-0061340789
by Linda Morelli
L.A. Mental is set in the Los Angeles area, a city of
quirky people and film industry denizens. Neil McMahon has done
an excellent job in portraying them in this sci-fi tinged thriller,
one centering on alien interventions and nanotechnology used as
a form of mind control.
Dr. Tom Crandall is a psychologist and teacher. His mother is a
widow.As her oldest child, Tom watches over his younger siblings,
Erica, Nick and Paul. When Nick calls Tom in the middle of the night,
fear obvious in his voice, Tom dials 911 and races his to the family’s
cliff-side Malibu home. Soon as he arrives, Nick raves about worms
eating his brain, and then jumps off the cliff. Tom manages to save
Nick and, after his brother is hospitalized, Tom sets out to determine
the cause of Nick’s psychotic episode.
Tom clearly holds the family together, but is surprised when he
learns that Nick has been blackmailing Paul and Erica to pay for
his drug habit. Paul is a would-be movie producer who is involved
with Parallax, a film production company headed by a scientist who
believes in nanotechnology and other-worldly beings. In Tom’s
mind, Parallax is a cult, but delving further into the company endangers
his life and that of others dear to him.
One only needs to live in L.A. to understand what might cause residents
to go crazy, but nanotechnology is real, and the possibility that
nanoparticles can be used to control others is frightening. Neil
McMahon has written a tense, fast-paced and mesmerizing plot, filled
with twists and turns that kept me reading well into the wee hours
of the night.