The Philosophical Practitioner by Larry Abrams

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This is not an action-packed thriller or a hard-boiled detective story, although it does come across a bit like a Sam Spade novel with its bold dialogue and dames in heels and short skirts, one of whom is bent on murder.

Its premise is unique: Eric, the main character is a “philosophical practitioner,” that is, he’s a lot like a psychologist, but instead of emphasizing feelings, he focuses on theory with his clients.

This novel stands in a category of its own. Kudos to the author for originality! While there is less action than introspection, the narrative doesn’t drag. It’s kept lively by Eric’s interaction with all of his different clients, along with a death threat to liven things up.

It was also enjoyable to see how philosophical theories could be applied to “real” people in their daily lives. Just because philosophy is abstract doesn’t mean it can’t be relevant. Unfortunately, these philosophical discussions were often cut short and didn’t go very deep.

The writing was clear and easy to follow, but it occasionally felt formulaic. For instance, almost every time a character appears, Eric surveys the details of their appearance. Sometimes, the descriptions felt superfluous. Their regularity grated on my nerves, reminding me a bit of essays written by middle-school students who were told they had to religiously follow an outline and provide 2 or 3 supporting details per paragraph. This kind of writing is awkwardly rigid.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel, but would have liked it better if the narrative was more fluid and if the philosophical discussions dug in a little more deeply.

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