American television producer, television writer, and author, William Rabkin, is a two-time Edgar Award nominee who writes the novel Psych: Mind-Altering Murder based on the television show Psych. Unfortunately though, the novel does not pull through as well as all Psych fans had hoped.
In the television series, Shawn Spencer (James Roday) and his partner and best friend Burton “Gus” Guster (Dulé Hill) open up a fake psychic detective agency. Shawn, having been taught how to be an unstoppable detective by his father, uses his talents of observation and investigation to solve murders, kidnappings, and robberies for the Santa Barbara Police Department. On television, Psych always seems to out do itself with its great mysteries and funny one-liners, but on the pages it does not seem to be as great.
In the story line written by Wiliam Rabkin, the president of a computer game agency contacts Shawn and Gus after the CEO disappears. She wants the psychic team to find out what has happened to the CEO and the only place to look for clues is inside the game. Before they get very far in the game, however, Shawn is in shock when he finds out that his best friend in the whole world does not want to be a detective anymore. Gus wants a job in the “real world,” but when fellow executives at his new job start dying under strange circumstances he realizes he needs Shawn now more than ever.
Although the plot may seem interesting, many fans seem to be confused while reading Rabkin’s take on this detective duo.
“It was a difficult read, I was not sure if I was in real life or in a virtual reality game,” said Patricia Smercani.
Since Shawn and Gus are split up for most of the novel while Gus is at his new job, Shawn spends most of his time inside the virtual reality game world of Darksyde City. The constant switches between when he is in the game world and when he is in the real world are sometimes hard to catch. From chapter to chapter, Shawn is constantly in and out of the gaming world searching for clues and the only time it is truly clear about whether he is in the game or not is when Shawn steals a car, or kills a criminal, or gets killed himself. Things get even more confusing when Shawn drags Detective Juliet O’Hara, played by Maggie Lawson in the television version, into the game with him. Sadly, the confusion and disappointment doesn’t end there.
“My biggest complaint continues to be that the characterizations just don't match the TV show much at all. Gus is too timid and nervous and Shawn is not very bright in the books, which is not at all how the characters appear on the show,” says Psych fan Perry Reed.
Many of the fans that love the characters and the interactions between them on the show were upset to see how they differed in Rabkin’s rendition.
“I'm a huge fan of the Psych tv series, but one of the things that make the show so great is the dynamic between the characters… These books however just have Shawn coming off as a callous and insensitive jerk while Gus seemingly has no will of his own… If you're looking to love the characters like you would in the TV series, you're in for a bad time,” said reader John Durphy.
Psych: Mind-Altering Murder is a disappointment to most fans of the television series. It lacks the characters that they know and love and replaces them with altered and unimproved versions. It can be argued that people who are knew to or have never followed the series might enjoy this book, but it still is sometimes confusing having more than one mystery going on a having Shawn in and out of virtual reality. So unless you are fan of complex and complicated mysteries and are also not a fan of Psych, then this could possibly be the book for you, but probably not.