Red Moon Over Manhattan
Red Moon Over Manhattan is a redemptive novel about a psychologist, who, through counseling teen murderers and grappling with a heart-wrenching divorce, is sent on a humbling journey of self-discovery. The doctor finds himself involved with two very troubled teens, both on the edge of horrible violence, and is eventually implicated in what the media came to dub the "Baby-Faced Butchers" case More
DOCTOR DUNCAN BRIGHT is a 42-year-old, newly divorced, psychologist in New York City. He has recently begun treating two teenage clients: DAWN, a provocative and precocious girl, and DAVID, a poignantly troubled young man. To his chagrin, Doctor Bright has been paying less-than-close attention to the problems of the two young people, distracted instead by his own unhappiness and the general fallout from his failed marriage. Though bound by law to do so, the doctor fails to inform authorities about mounting violent outbursts by the destructive teen duo. David has physically assaulted his mother, and Dawn is threatening to stab her mother.
As the holidays approach, the tiny Upper East Side practice begins to crumble, while his personal depression deepens. In addition, Bright learns that his two newest clients, David and Dawn, have rekindled a destructive relationship begun when they were schoolmates. The doctor turns to alcohol for solace.
Spring brings a temporary reprieve to Doctor Bright’s misery. He joins a gym, quits drinking, and even starts dating. However, one day a client tells him that the morning news is full of reports about two teenagers named David and Dawn who have stabbed a man to death. Doctor Bright runs out of the office to the nearest newsstand. Sure enough, there’s the headline, “Slash Frenzy in Central Park,” with his young clients’ pictures beneath it. Doctor Bright is left to ponder his own culpability in the crime. But after a while, he begins to feel strangely distant from the case. However, this distance vanishes when DETECTIVE MARK KELLY, a straight-shooting cop with a thick Queens accent, contacts the doctor. He besets Doctor Bright with gory photographs and gruesome details of the murder, and he grills him on the subject of the two teens. Detective Kelly can’t believe that Doctor Bright, knowing about his teenage clients’ violent tendencies, hadn’t foreseen danger. Kelly finally states his true motivation for contacting the doctor—as it turns out, he needs Bright’s help in putting the bloody pieces together. The doctor hesitantly agrees to take part in a gruesome exploration of the night MICHAEL MILLER was murdered.
David, after a series of soul-cleansing sessions through his cell bars, begins to reckon with the guilt of taking another man’s life while the incarcerated Dawn continues to play with the doctor the way a kitten might play with a ball of yarn. The following autumn, Dawn is sentenced to serve 10 years for manslaughter after accepting a dubious plea bargain, and David is found guilty of manslaughter as well. Because Doctor Bright feels partly responsible for the crime, and because he’s still recovering from the loss of his marriage, he decides to give up his practice and plans on leaving the city. Ironically, it is his longtime client Evelyn who wakes him from his trance of self-pity, and the last pages find him counseling clients again while working with the knowledge of his own limitations.