“Unsound” by Toby Neal

“I think I started getting really worried when I found the shoe.”

The first line of this novel grabbed me, and what followed ensured that my interest was maintained. Being unfamiliar with the author, I had no expectations, either positive or negative.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Unsound” features protagonist Caprice Wilson, PhD.  A psychologist who, in addition to her private patients, provides consultation and support for law enforcement for the state of Hawaii. Recently divorced, and feeling the loss of her son, Chris, who had just gone off to his first year of college, Caprice is feeling lonely and stressed, and drinking WAY too much.

She operates out of two offices, one is located within the police station at Hilo, the other is in a charming little restored cottage near the Hido campus of the University of Hawaii.

how I pictured Caprice’s office

The story  begins with Caprice discovering a shoe on the doorstep of her cottage office.  Shortly thereafter, she finds several other items. She is creeped out enough by this that she lets her police friends and colleagues know.

“The last thing I needed right now was a stalker
complicating the shreds of life I had left.”

Caprice is in a mess. She has not yet adjusted to single life or her now empty nest. She is struggling to keep up the payments on the marital home.  With no real friends, she takes solace in her loved Mini Cooper car, her siamese cat, Hector, and…. the alcohol which she drinks daily.

Bruce Ohale, Caprice’s friend and colleague (who just happens to be the Police Chief), performs what he calls an ‘intervention’. After reaching an all-time low, Caprice is told that she will be fired if she doesn’t go to rehab. She agrees to a rehab facility on Maui.  Little does Bruce know that Caprice has other ideas for her rehab. She plans to hike to the bottom of the Haleakala Crater, alone, and go ‘cold-turkey’.

After an arduous trek down the crater, and suffering physically, Caprice spends four days at a rented cabin. That is when he world begins to unravel… A young giant of a man, claims that he rented the cabin as well, and that they will have to share… His lie is apparent to Caprice hours later when she realizes that he is keeping her prisoner!  To what end? He forces her to drink vodka after already going through days of agony trying NOT to drink.  What is his agenda?  Will she live through this?

Her abductor’s name is Russell Pruitt. He is the stalker who has left the items on her office doorstep. He has traced her here via her cell phone, which he smashes to pieces. Her lifeline gone.

As hours under Russell’s eagle eye, turn to days, Caprice must use all her strength and psychologist’s training to stay alive.


This novel was a pleasant surprise for me.  I thought that whatever I read after my previous read (which I loved) would somehow be a letdown.  “Unsound” did not let me down in any way.  It was a solidly constructed suspense novel with well fleshed out characters. The setting was unique and very memorable.  The descriptions were vivid, yet not overdone. It is part of a series, but I didn’t know that going in, and I found that it reads perfectly as a stand-alone. The series does not share a protagonist, only the Hawaiian setting.

This was a well written, tension-packed novel that delved into the psyches of two damaged individuals – with moral dilemmas and empathetic reasoning. The realistic yet satisfactory ending, made for an enjoyable reading experience.

I will gladly read this author again, and recommend “Unsound” to all who enjoy a good mystery/suspense novel with a psychological bent.The author has provided an online photo gallery for “Unsound”. (requires Flash player)

“I received a digital copy of this novel from Edelweiss, for free – at my request, and I provided this review voluntarily.”

Toby Neal grew up on the island of Kaua`i in Hawaii. After a few “stretches of exile” to pursue education, the islands have been home for the last fifteen years. Toby is a mental health therapist, a career that has informed the depth and complexity of the characters in her books. Outside of work and writing, Toby volunteers in a nonprofit for children and enjoys life in Hawaii through beach walking, body boarding, scuba diving, photography, and hiking.

Follow her on Twitter @tobywneal

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About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Mystery fiction, Psychological thrillers, Suspense and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to “Unsound” by Toby Neal

  1. Toby Neal says:

    Aloha Fictionophile! I loved your review with the pictures and terrific analysis. Posted to my FB page, G+ and fan group. Hope you get a lot of new readers to follow your excellent reviews! Much aloha and thanks for the kind words!
    Toby Neal

    Liked by 1 person

  2. skyecaitlin says:

    Setting, theme, and so many things make this a ‘must read.’

    Like

  3. bibliobeth says:

    Ooh this looks good! I love the premise and will definitely have to check this out. Thanks for the fantastic review! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  4. carhicks says:

    Oh wow, I am also unfamiliar with this author, but will have to check this book out. It sounds amazing. Great review.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What can I say? I love Toby Neal and have read two of her series in depth–each with highly intelligent, proficient female protagonists, slightly (or wholly) damaged in some way. Her stories are consistently excellent. I just downloaded Dark Lava (of the Lei Crime series–my favorite) and can’t wait to read. Thanks for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

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