Madly in love, or just mad?
The psychiatrist turned novelist just released his second novel — a thriller — called Love Gone Mad. It follows his debut, Mad Dog House, but it is not a sequel.
Dr. Rubinstein will talk about Love Gone Mad and the “Fine Line Between Falling in Love and Madness,” Monday, Sept. 30, 6 p.m., at Wilton Library. Copies of the book will be available for sale and signing, and he will donate $2 for each book sold to the library. It is also available as a paperback or e-book at amazon.com.
Published by Thunder Lake Press, Love Gone Mad is the story of Adrian Douglas, a surgeon, and Megan Haggarty, a neonatal ICU nurse, and how the couple is relentlessly stalked by Megan’s ex-husband Conrad Wilson. The themes of paranoia, relationships, and inner resolve are primary. Drawing on his courtroom experience as a forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Rubin also explores the “not guilty by reason of insanity” plea.
“I love to write thrillers,” Dr. Rubinstein said in his office last week. “There are elements in Love Gone Mad that approach the paranormal. What I like to write is basically a thriller that can take place ... the most frightening things in life are those that can actually happen.”
Citing the Travis Alexander-Jodi Arias case, in which Ms. Arias was recently convicted of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Mr. Alexander, Dr. Rubinstein said, “Something snapped in her. Love thrillers have that aura of possibility.
“Any one of us could get stalked. ... [Love Gone Mad] is the story of two respectable people who hit it off and before they know it they are in the middle of a nightmare.”
The book opens with a disturbing, seemingly chance encounter between Adrian and Conrad that foreshadows the drama yet to unfold.
Shortly thereafter Adrian meets Megan for the first time in the cafeteria of the hospital where they both work. They strike up a conversation. Both are divorced and Megan has a young daughter, Marlee. The beginning of their relationship is tentative.
“Here’s a man. He’s sees a beautiful woman,” Dr. Rubinstein said, but because of his past failures he lacks confidence.
“He’s thinking, ‘I don’t stand a chance. She can’t be single. She doesn’t even see me,” he said. But Megan notices Adrian right away. She just doesn’t let on.
“I was trying to capture the sense people have of ‘I’ll never get this one,” he said. “That lack of confidence people have in their own social adroitness.”
Nevertheless, Adrian and Megan find a connection. They begin to date and eventually fall in love.
Megan has been divorced from Conrad for about six years. What starts as a normal, loving relationship soon devolves into something ugly as Conrad becomes extremely jealous, imagining Megan is unfaithful. Her attempt to save her marriage by having a baby only makes things worse. Conrad insists Marlee is not his daughter and when he becomes violent, Megan leaves with the girl.
Conrad moves across the country, but when he loses his job he snaps and returns, seeking vengeance against Megan and Marlee, and Adrian as well, whom he imagines to be Marlee’s father.
There are numerous alarming developments — a cat and mouse chase, a car accident, a fire — before Conrad is finally caught and brought to trial.
Here, drawing on his experience as an expert witness to dozens of court cases and in treating thousands of patients, Dr. Rubinstein takes the reader into the courtroom and the strategies employed by prosecutors and defenders to either get a conviction or acquittal.
Dr. Rubinstein spent most of a year writing and rewriting Love Gone Mad. “A novel is an organic thing,” he said. “It lives as it goes along.”
Dr. Rubinstein will follow this book up in short order with Mad Dog Justice, which he teases after the conclusion of Love Gone Mad.
“I was going to let things lie,” he said of the ending of his debut novel. “But I got so many emails from people and reviews asking for a sequel.”
It was a challenge, he said, to pursue the lives of Roddy Dolan and Danny Burns.
“This is a different story and different complications that challenge Roddy and Danny in so many ways,” he said. It is due out in the spring of 2014.
That will be followed up by Assassin’s Lullaby, a new story with new characters. That story is still being written.
“Writing has changed my life,” said Dr. Rubinstein, who is in his early 70s. “It’s wonderful to be in a new profession. It’s given me a new lease on life. I’m a total newbie. It’s almost rejuvenating. I never imagined it would be this much fun.”
Part of that fun is meeting his audience and Dr. Rubinstein is looking forward to his appearance at Wilton Library next week.
“The best part is the Q&A,” he said. “You want to keep it fresh, keep it jumpin’.”
Information: wiltonlibrary.org or 203-762-3950, ext. 213.