Mental State

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Pub Date 15 Oct 2018 | Archive Date 22 Oct 2018

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When conservative law professor Alex Johnson is found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his house in Chicago, everyone thinks it is suicide. Everyone except his brother, Royce, an FBI agent.

Without jurisdiction or leads, Agent Johnson leaves his cases and family to find out who killed his brother. There are many suspects: the ex-wife, an ambitious doctor with expensive tastes and reasons to hate her ex; academic rivals on a faculty divided along political lines; an African-American student who failed the professor’s course.

As Agent Johnson peels back layers of mystery in his rogue investigation, the brother he never really knew emerges. Clues lead from the ivy-covered elite university and the halls of power in Washington to the gritty streets of Chicago and Lahore, Pakistan. Ultimately, Agent Johnson must face the question of how far he is willing to go to catch his brother’s killer.

Mental State is about two brothers learning about each other in death, and about the things people will do when convinced they are in the right. 

When conservative law professor Alex Johnson is found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at his house in Chicago, everyone thinks it is suicide. Everyone except his brother, Royce...

Advance Praise

“When his brother dies of an apparent suicide, FBI agent Royce Johnson is the only investigator who knows it’s murder. Thus begins a taught, spellbinding journey through the dark, dank corridors of his family’s past and a shocking criminal enterprise. A well written, fast-paced, rollercoaster of a ride you won’t put down until the last paragraph.” —Jack Getze, Author of the Award-winning Austin Carr Mystery Series from Down & Out Books


“Right on time, Todd Henderson delivers a punch to the zeitgeist with this political thriller that posits the unthinkable: corruption in the White House. Fasten your life jacket for a tour of the rot from sea to shining sea.​ Sinister, engrossing and devilishly finessed.” —Les Edgerton, Author, Adrenaline Junkie, The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping, The Rapist and others.

“Exciting and compulsively readable, Mental State marks the entrance of a striking new talent on the thriller scene. Todd Henderson’s confident debut draws the reader into the unfamiliar worlds of academia, the law, and backroom politics, while providing a fresh take on more familiar thriller ground like the world of law enforcement. The Professor’s murder mystery delivers the rough and tumble goods, and it will leave readers wanting more.” —Kurt Schlichter, lawyer and bestselling author

Mental State is fascinating, detailed, and a pure page-turner. It's a must-read if you love the country, the Supreme Court, or just a book that will keep you up at night.” —Ben Shapiro, public intellectual, talk-show host, and bestselling author

“Try as I might, I could not put Mental State down. It’s terrific. At times hilarious, always interesting, and in parts truly disturbing. I loved it.” —Michael Seidman, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center


“When his brother dies of an apparent suicide, FBI agent Royce Johnson is the only investigator who knows it’s murder. Thus begins a taught, spellbinding journey through the dark, dank corridors...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781948235334
PRICE $17.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 7 members

Featured Reviews

Okay so wow. This book. I don’t really have words, but I can say that it was powerful with lots of twists. I loved that I never knew which way the plot would go.

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FBI agent, Royce Johnson, learns that his brother, Alex, has committed suicide but something doesn't seem quite right about that and Royce decides to investigate. What he finds is conspiracy upon conspiracy in which the treachery could lead all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief. The cut and dried case is not what it seems and Royce digs in to discover the truth in order to protect the innocent and clear his brothers name. The more he investigates, the more he realizes that he didn't know his brother as well as he thought. As the case unravels, the danger increases and he puts his career on the line to find the truth. This story was suspenseful with lots of twists and turns. It is a believable tale of misuse and manipulation of power that hopefully is not business as usual in US politics but it is possible. There are quite a few tragedies here but I liked this story. However, some of the descriptive style of writing including imagery and metaphors were a bit strange to me, also, the ending was a bit anti-climatic. I think it could use a little more editing but I would recommend this book. I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Boy, do I love me an addictive conspiracy thriller! Mental State certainly fits the bill in that respect. Well written, action-packed and an easy, enjoyable read, this was a book I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. It does require quite a healthy suspension of disbelief, so if you appreciate books with plots that are believable and fairly realistic this may not be your cup of tea. However, as I read fiction to relax, I loved that everything flowed beautifully from page-to-page and was fun to read! What more could you ask for?!

The storyline is full of juicy tidbits to get your teeth into and encompasses a whole host of different topics which combine to create a compelling piece. Without giving anything away the plot covers - politics, corruption, crime, brotherly love, the things we will do when we feel we are right about something and need to bring the truth to light and legal ramifications of all of the crazy goings-on. Given the author is Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School, the legal aspects of the book felt authentic. I do believe that tighter editing could've improved the tautness of the story, and I found the ending rather disappointing and anti-climatic. I look forward to reading the work he publishes in the future and hope they will be as immersive as this was. Recommended.

Many thanks to Down & Out Books for an ARC. I was not required to post a review, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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Well this turned out to be a little different that maybe I was expecting... in a good way!
Prof. Alex Johnson has been found dead, the scene is initially ruled suicide but brother, FBI agent Royce doesn't believe he would end his own life. Problem is, he is on his own in this thinking so, he up sticks and starts to investigate solo. He appears to have figured it all out and a perp is caught and arrested. But are things really as they seemed, maybe it was a little too easy, could there have been too many clues, is there more, much more, to the whole situation? With his life threatened for his involvement. can Royce defy the odds and stay alive long enough to work it all out and get justice for his brother.
One of the things I loved about this book, story apart, was all the little sporting asides that peppered my way. Although a Brit, I am a big American sports fan and do love it when I read about that stuff in a book. Moreso than reading about "soccer" in a UK based book to be honest! But that has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual story which I also found quite intriguing from start to finish. It's hard to explain why without giving spoilers as to what actually transpired but I think I'm OK just saying that the topic in this book is quite reflective of what is happening in the real world these days and all too often too.
Another thing that I enjoyed was the descriptive writing style. I usually don;t get on with this style but here it seemed to fit very well with the story and characters and I found myself getting totally immersed in the world and story that were being so poetically described.
Yes I had to suspends a bit of belief along the way, yes I wasn't wholly satisfied at the ending, but I can live with that in comparison with the way the book held my attention nicely for the majority.
All in all, a nice solid read that I did enjoy. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

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