Cover image for Twice dying : a novel
Twice dying : a novel
McMahon, Neil.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., [2000]

Physical Description:
205 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Do you know what happens
if you throw a piglet into a cage
with two hungry cobras?

NGIs. We read about them every day: violent sociopaths--rapists, arsonists, murderers--who "get away" with their crimes because they're found not guilty by reason of insanity. Instead of prison, these NGIs are sent to live together in concrete-and-barbwire compounds like Psych Unit Three in the Clevinger Rehabilitation Program, a high security mental institution outside San Francisco.

They start eating it
from either end. Then one cobra
will swallow the other.

Clevinger psychologist Alison Chapley, a woman with her own dark secrets and needs, spends her days among these NGIs. When one of the most vicious is recommended for release, she immediately becomes suspicios. Digging deep into the hospital's files, she discovers that many of these violent offenders have been fast-tracked, "rehabilitated," and released back into society. After which, one by one, these men begin to disappear. Where are they? Who's behind their release? And why?

That's what Naia does.

Determined to find the truth, Alison turns to the one person she can trust, her ex-lover Carroll Monks, a physician and medical investigator. Partly because of the danger of the investigation itself, partly because of Alison's sexually charged attraction to danger, Monks only reluctantly agrees to help. Almost immediately they find themselves lured into a macabre and increasingly deadly game of cat-and-mouse, orchestrated by a cunning mastermind known only as Naia.

She turns the strong
against each other...
and harvests the victor.

Naia's perverse and carefully chosen clues--plaster marks, a snuff-style videotape, a deadly cobra--draw Alison into a psychological seduction she cannot resist. To save Alsion and himslef, Monks must outwit this brilliant and deranged mind at its own twisted game....

Neil McMahon's Twice Dying is a uniquely heart-stopping read, a stylish, spare novel with a terrifying twist that will leave readers quessing to the very end.

Author Notes

Neil McMahon is the author of five novels, including the recently published Lone Creek. McMahon is also a carpenter in Missoula, where his wife coordinates the Montana Festival of the Book. Praised by fellow writers like Michael Connelly, James Crumley, Annick Smith, and William Kittredge, McMahon is working on the sequel to Lone Creek. He also held a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

It is hard to believe that Carroll Monks, a San Francisco emergency-room doctor, would need more excitement in his life, but when he's not saving lives, he pursues his special hobby: busting bad doctors. One night, Carroll's old love Alison Chapley shows up with a problem that is right up Carroll's alley. Her boss, Francis Jephson, may be prematurely releasing sociopaths found not guilty by reason of insanity (NGIs). His motive is to improve his reputation and fund his institute. Carroll discovers that these released NGIs are being ritualistically murdered by a stalker who begins to threaten Carroll and Alison when their investigation gets too close. Videos of ritualistic murder, hints of kinky sex, and ER scenes of medical emergencies pepper the action-packed novel, which should please readers who enjoy the serial-killer-on-the-loose plot. Those who have trouble accepting the notion that serial killers are always smarter than their pursuers, however, may resist the building suspense. --Gary Niebuhr

Publisher's Weekly Review

There are a lot of skeletons in the closets of this taut, spare debut, but the dark and creepy side of this thriller, where everyone has something to hide, is subsumed by the very sparseness that initially gives the book its unique voice. All the right elements for a suspenseful tale are present. Psychiatrist Alison Chapley learns that at Clevinger Hospital's psych unit, Dr. Francis Jephson has been diagnosing murderous sociopaths as suffering from mild schizophrenia, and then releasing them back into the world. She calls upon her former lover, San Francisco malpractice investigator Carroll Monks, to help. Years ago, Monks and Chapley's relationship was erotically charged with hints of violence, and the psychology of their love connection evolves intriguingly. Soon their sleuthing reveals a link among Jephson; the corrupt, powerful Vandenard family; and a mysterious criminal mastermind who calls herself Naia, Queen of Cobras. As Monks and Chapley close in on a network of psychotic killers, they find themselves in Naia's crosshairs. McMahon's clean and concise style is refreshing, helping to build tension, but as things start to get scary for Monks and Chapley, the narrative remains steady and stark, never ascending to a truly suspenseful pitch. When one of the main characters suffers a potentially transforming ordeal, it happens, like a death in Greek tragedy, offstage; and the novel ends with a clinical, distant finale. Though the skeletons in the closet are revealed with cleverness and expertise, they don't come to terrifying life. Author tour. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved