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Asylum by Jeannette de Beauvoir


by Jeannette de Beauvoir

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Martine LeDuc (1)

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406285,656 (3.39)13

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
As a reader I’m aware of how choked and overplayed the crime genre is - investigators take the strangest shapes these days and I get why; the cop drama and the lone operative stories have been done to death. But there’s a reason they work; because they’re plausible and the people involved have enough skill to let me believe they could, in fact, solve a crime. Many thriller writers put amateur sleuths through their paces so they can get to the bottom of something the authorities won’t touch. This book didn’t get it right though. Our main character is a professional PR person and the cop she’s paired with isn’t allowed to investigate and has nothing to do with the case. Nonetheless they solve it; going where no one else dares to go because of political alliances and big money.

It wasn’t terrible, just very implausible. Martine is such a neophyte that most of her deductions or breakthroughs come from outside her control and some are fantastic and silly. It wasn’t hard to peg the real killer either and so what I’m sure was supposed to be a surprising and tense chase through the streets of Montreal was tedious and so I skipped most of it. I really didn’t need the killer’s insane cackling in my head. Not unless you’re Sideshow Bob.

Interspersed with Martine’s narrative is a bunch of diary-type sections from the POV of one of the inmates of the titular asylum. I wasn’t sure where the writer was going with this, but surely it would figure large. And large it did. I remember vaguely hearing about the Duplesseis Orphans and the heinous outrages committed by the Canadian government and the Catholic church, but didn't remember much about them. The writer manages to bring the right amount of pathos and suffering, but the MK Ultra connection seemed like pure imagination until I got to her notes at the end. Seems there was something to suspect there all along.

That Annie’s removal and placement into a nice home was just another sick experiment was really sad. You wanted one of these kids to catch a break, but that’s now how it went. Not at all. Gruesome from start to finish. Effective, too.

And I couldn’t help but laugh at all the English v. French crap. It’s so funny considering they’re all Canadians and that the French they speak there is barely coherent to some residents of France. And shit, aren’t both populations just descendents of invaders anyway? None of them have a claim on what is and isn’t the “real” Canada or whatever they’re arguing about. Idiots. Martine’s moaning about “her city” really drove me crazy, too. She was so proud to be ignorant of the most glaring and obnoxious Americanism. That got old. And her Catholic apologies. Ugh. Go put your head back in the sand, sister. ( )
1 vote Bookmarque | Feb 13, 2017 |
Montreal..literary thriller (murder mystery) with an interwoven study of a Duplessis orphan's journal.

"The Duplessis Orphans were the victims of a scheme in which approximately 20,000 orphaned children were falsely certified as mentally ill by the government of the province of Quebec, Canada, and confined to psychiatric institutions.....
...The Quebec government received subsidies from the federal government for building hospitals, but hardly anything for having orphanages.

Lunatic Asylum Act of 1909 governed mental institution admissions until 1950.
The law stated the insane could be committed for three reasons: to care for them, to help them, or a security measure to maintain social order in public and home life.
However, the act did not define what a disruption of social order was, leaving the decision to admit patients up to the psychiatrists.
The doctors diagnosed the orphanage children with various mental illnesses while ignoring their actual mental state
Children in Quebec orphanages were therefore declared “mentally deficient.”
Schooling stopped, and the orphans became inmates in a mental institution where they were sexually, physically, and mentally abused.
Children who complained about the conditions were sent to local reform school.
A commission in the early 1960s investigating mental institutions revealed one-third of the 22,000 patients did not belong.

The Bédard report of 1962 put an end to the outdated concept of an “asylum,” while many of the orphans reached adulthood and could leave the facility."

The statement above is a Wikipedia explanation of the Duplessis orphan. ( )
  pennsylady | Feb 11, 2016 |
Martine LeDuc is the publicity director for the city of Montreal. When a string of murders threatens the municipality’s tourism industry, she is asked to be the liaison between the mayor and the police director. She is partnered with Julian Fletcher, a police detective, and together they decide to lead their own investigation. Soon they discover that the killings seem to have a link with the Duplessis Orphans and the medical experiments the CIA was conducting on these abandoned children from the 1950s to the 1970s. Are these murders the work of a deranged serial killer or the result of an even more sinister conspiration? In a parallel story told in flashbacks, a young girl, Gabrielle Roy, is brought to an orphanage and then transferred to an asylum where she witnesses the horrific treatment on these poor children while doing her best to survive.

Asylum is a compelling mystery with a great pace. The real-life story of the Duplessis Orphans is heartbreaking, and the author pays them a beautiful tribute with this book. From the 1950s to the 1970s, single mothers or poor families were forced to abandon their children in orphanages. The kids were then transferred to asylums because the government provided more funding to these institutions. At the same time, the CIA was running a mind-control research program called MK-Ultra in Quebec and was testing drug-induced mind-control techniques on children in the asylums. As a result, these poor kids were abused and tortured, and many of them died. This dark part of Quebec’s history should not be ignored, and I admire Jeannette de Beauvoir for writing about it.

I was also drawn to Asylum because of where it is taking place. I live a couple hours’ drive from Montreal and I have been there many times, so I enjoyed the references to the Old City and other landmarks. However, I thought it was a bit of a stretch that a publicity director for the city of Montreal would help the police in a murder case. But once you accept this premise, the story is entertaining and the book hard to put down. I must say though that I did figure out who the killer was half-way through the book. But I think it was only by chance when I looked at the notes I was taking for this review. In the end, it was well worth my time to keep reading to know how Martine and Julian solved the case. I highly recommend this book.

Asylum was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review.

To read the full review, please go to my blog (Cecile Sune - Book Obsessed). ( )
  cecile.sune | May 1, 2015 |
The author takes two horrible real life events from Montreal's history, and winds them into a current-day murder mystery. The first is the CIA conducted mind-control drug experiments at the Ravenscrag Institute (now part of McGill University), conducted from the 1950s through the 1970s. The second event is the mass institutionalization of children in Quebec from the 1940s through to the 1960s. In traditionally Catholic Quebec, it was an unspeakable disgrace to have a baby out of wedlock. These children were taken to so-called orphanages. Other families surrendered their children when they had huge families that they couldn't feed. The Canadian government helped support the Church financially in running these institutions, but the Church figured out that they could get more government assistance for running mental hospitals. Thus, sometimes overnight, healthy children were deemed mentally ill. Years later it was discovered that these children were horrifically abused and sometimes used for medical experimentation. These children are now known as the Duplessis Orphans.

Fast forward to current day Montreal, were in a short time, four women have been found raped, murdered, and posed on park benches. Concerned about Montreal's reputation as a tourist destination, the mayor appoints his director of public relations, Martine LeDuc, to liaise with the police to report on progress and pressure a resolution. Martine goes beyond these instructions and discovers the link between the four murder victims is the Duplessis Orphans. Woven in with Martine's efforts to solve the mystery is a back story of an orphan named Gabrielle who is trying to survived the asylum.

The strength of this novel is in those scenes at the asylum. I also loved all the rich detail about Montreal and its bilingual culture. And of course I was fascinated to learn about this dark period of Quebec history. ( )
2 vote Nickelini | Mar 30, 2015 |
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

ASYLUM is a shocking, disturbing, and harrowing, yet absorbing mystery by Jeannette de Beauvoir, of innocent children, orphans— being transported to insane asylums in the middle of the night, subjected to torture, harsh treatment, appalling and inhuman experiments, mind control, medical experimentation, and sexual abuse at the hands of psychiatrists, priests, nuns and administrators.

Montreal had been experiencing random killings.Women all over the city were being advised to take precautions not to take the bus or the Metro alone, purchase extra locks, and tone up the security. Now the body count is up to four women, in the middle of prime tourist season; found brutally murdered and posed on park benches, throughout the city over several months.

Martine LeDuc is the director of public relations the mayor's office in Montreal and she becomes involved in helping police detective Julian Fletcher, after her boss becomes concerned they are rapidly becoming the murder capital of North America --concerned about the city’s image.

Being she is in public relations it is her duty to help smooth over this situation. She is not the police and not qualified; however, she is to act as a liaison between the parties. What connects these four women? Appears they may have a connection to the Cité de Saint-Jean-de-Dieu Asylum.

We hear from a desperate child (diary) being transported from an orphanage to a strange, scary, and chilling place of screams, offering no protection where the only lesson that mattered, was how to survive--to a disturbing investigation (Watson/Holmes), uncovering dark political secrets dating back to the 1950s.

From an orphanage scandal in the 1950s and sixties with churches running orphanages or asylums where at the time it was a sin to have baby out of wedlock—a social sin, or families who could not afford their children, or one parent – they were left at the orphanage.

However, some discovered federal grants and support money offered from Canadian government for kids in asylums more than orphanages. Suddenly a number of orphans became mentally ill, sane turned to insane and they were all locked up together.

Quebec soon labeled these children, either crazy or mentally deficient and locked them away (Duplessis orphans) and after he died, they kept taking orphans thru the sixties. From straitjackets, electroshock therapy, hydrotherapy, excessive medication, lobotomies, where humans became guinea pigs for pharmaceutical companies.

Martine finds herself imprisoned underneath the old asylum, tunnels, drugged, thinking she may be in purgatory or dead--as a race against time for a chilling and complex suspense mystery.

The author delivers a heartbreaking tale— yet informative account surrounding political tensions, and controversial issues during this shocking time—much of what fictional protagonist Martine LeDuc learned about Montreal’s past, is unfortunately true.

As the author mentions, yet today, evidence reveals the Duplessis Orphans, railroaded into psychiatric hospitals as retarded and mentally ill, were being administered the powerful drug of chlorpromazine as early as 1947 with debilitating effects.

An alarming reality, the federal government offered more monetary support for asylums than it did for orphanages—a financial incentive, plus the medical experimentation reward, as these institutions continued the scheme developed from the 1940s-1960s, obtaining additional federal funding for thousands of children.

Appears there still remains controversy over the old cemetery at the Cite de St-Jean De-Dieu asylum with nameless children. The author offers a partial list of those identified, as a list of minors under the age of 21 buried in Saint Jean de Dieu Asylum Cemetery, between the years 1933– 1958.

From the chilling front cover, to the detailed descriptions, extensive research, vivid settings of Montreal, political tensions, and real-life events; Jeannette de Beauvoir, delivers an absorbing mystery suspense; an intense page-turner thriller. ( )
  JudithDCollins | Mar 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
De Beauvoir does a fine job of evoking the ambiance of Montreal, with its fascinating neighborhoods, bilingualism, and political tensions.
added by Nickelini | editPublishers Weekly (Mar 20, 2015)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jeannette de Beauvoirprimary authorall editionscalculated
Maines, RebeccaCopy editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Murphy, Molly RoseDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rotstein, David BaldeosinghCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For the orphans
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The woman sitting in the backseat shivered and drew the child closer to her side. (Prologue)
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Martine LeDuc is the director of PR for the mayor's office in Montreal. When four women are found brutally murdered and shockingly posed on park benches throughout the city over several months, Martine's boss fears a PR disaster for the still busy tourist season, and Martine is now also tasked with acting as liaison between the mayor and the police department. The women were of varying ages, backgrounds and bodytypes and seemed to have nothing in common. Yet the macabre presentation of their bodies hints at a connection. Martine is paired with a young detective, Julian Fletcher, and together they dig deep into the city's and the country's past, only to uncover a dark secret dating back to the 1950s, when orphanages in Montreal and elsewhere were converted to asylums in order to gain more funding. The children were subjected to horrific experiments such as lobotomies, electroshock therapy, and psychotropic medication, and many of them died in the process. The survivors were supposedly compensated for their trauma by the government and the cases seem to have been settled. So who is bearing a grudge now, and why did these four women have to die? amazon product description
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"Martine LeDuc is the director of PR for the mayor's office in Montreal. When four women are found brutally murdered and shockingly posed on park benches throughout the city over several months, Martine's boss fears a PR disaster for the still busy tourist season, and Martine is now also tasked with acting as liaison between the mayor and the police department"--… (more)

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