On My Bookshelf: The Right Wrong Thing by Ellen Kirschman

October 12, 2015

In The Right Wrong Thing by Ellen Kirshman, police psychologist Dr. Dot Meyerhoff struggles to counsel a young female officer after she shoots an unarmed pregnant teenager. The plot thickens when that young officer is found dead, the suspects are many, and Dr. Meyerhoff does some investigating of her own. Visit theliterarymaven.com between 10/12 & 10/19 to enter to win your own copy.
This is a sponsored post. I received this product for free in exchange for a review, but all opinions are my own.

The basic plot: Dr. Dot Meyerhoff is the police psychologist for the Kenilworth Police Department (KPD) and one of her newest clients is Randy Spelling, a 24-year-old young woman from a family of police officers, hoping to join the predominantly male force in Kenilworth. After Dr. Meyerhoff's positive recommendation, Randy joins the KPD. But the next time Dr. Meyerhoff sees Randy, she is hiding in a bathroom stall in the hospital where her partner is being treated after being attacked by vagrants with a sword. Randy is embarrassed that she froze up and was unable to help her partner. During their first counseling session, Randy suffers a panic attack and recounts her nightmares of the event, but with weekly sessions with Dr. Dot Meyerhoff, Randy is able to return to work. 

Then less than a month later, on Halloween night, Randy shoots Lakeisha Gibbs, an unarmed pregnant teenager, who ignores Randy's commands to put her hands where she can see them and instead reaches into her car for a shiny object that Randy mistakes for a gun. Randy is wracked with guilt and wants to apologize to Lakeisha's family, an action no one will condone, not her husband Rick, not any of her fellow officers or chief, and not even Dr. Meyerhoff. After several strained sessions, Randy begins seeing a new psychologist, Dr. Marvel Johnson, who Dr. Meyerhoff doesn't quite trust. And then after the Christmas holidays, Randy is found dead under a bench in a park not far from the Gibbs' family apartment. The obvious suspects are Lakeisha's brothers, the father of her unborn baby, or maybe even her angry mother or grandmother, but Dr. Meyerhoff begins doing some investigating of her own, against police orders, and suddenly the case doesn't seem so clear cut.

Why I liked it: TNT's series The Closer was one of my favorite shows and Dr. Dot Meyerhoff reminded me of the main character Brenda Leigh Johnson (played by Kyra Sedgwick). Both Dr. Meyerhoff and Johnson live by their own rules and don't take no for an answer. In the novel, KPD's new female chief also reminded me of Captain Sharon Raydor (played by Mary McDonnell), both women come off as distant and a puzzlement to their team.

Classroom application: While the novel would not be appropriate in full in a middle school or high school classroom (too many sexy wine scenes between Dr. Meyerhoff and Frank, her saint of a boyfriend), there are chapters or even shorter excerpts that could be used in a psychology or pre-law/criminology course or even in a unit on women's role in society. For example, in the first chapter, the two candidates for the position of chief of police debate the importance and impact of of women in the police force.

Want to win your own copy of The Right Wrong Thing by Ellen Kirschman? 
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