Book Reviews

HIGH SOCIETY by Daniel Kalla

“Nothing in the world could justify me using a therapeutic agent to roofie my own clients. But I did it anyway.”

Just as we can count on certain actors and actresses to be excellent in any role that they play, so too can we count on exceptional authors to always bring their best storytelling to the books that they write.

Daniel Kalla, Canada’s own internationally bestselling author, is that kind of writer, with avid fans knowing that when they see a book with his name on it, they’re guaranteed an excellent read. Not only are Kalla’s books entertaining, as an emergency doctor in a Vancouver hospital the content that he offers up is informative, cutting edge and finger-on-the-pulse topical as to what is going on in today’s society.

The protagonist of “High Society” is Dr. Holly Danvers, who at sixteen years of age, survives a car accident in which her father is killed. It is an event that Holly feels subliminally guilty for having caused. Two decades later, after engaging in  ayahuasca treatments in Peru, a psychedelic therapy famously held in the Peruvian jungles, Holly has become a successful psychiatrist who believes in using psychedelics as a core treatment to help patients kick their various addictions, including Xanax, alcohol and sex.

The group that Holly assembles for her experimental trials – a mix of ketamine and MDMA – is a who’s who of accomplishment, weirdness, and fame. It is a gathering of well-heeled people whose “society masks” hide the true essence of who they are behind closed doors, bascially they are nowhere near who they purport to be.  While different in so many ways —several of the characters are real “doozies,”—their life struggles and search to be their ‘best selves’ bind them together in a “tribe-like” mentality as they gather together on a weekly basis for experimental rounds of ketamine and MDMA.

One character in particular, Simon, an aging rock star, is so authentically true to rock star perceptions that I found myself thinking of him, even shaking my head, relative to his powerlessness over his peccadillos, days and days after I finished Kalla’s book.

And so, with the mix of these kinds of egos, and the cocktail of Dr. Danver’s drugs, what could possibly go wrong?

Seriously.

Shall we begin with the good doctor’s overriding ambition to further the cause of her grandfather’s advocacy for the usage of psychedelics to treat patients?

Or how about the already vulnerable “tribe’s” dependence of any and all substances that make them feel good? And/or the jealousies that abound when an epic group of strong characters are strapped in chairs with IV’s in their arms, high-tripping together?

Come to think of it, does Holly’s husband emeritus, Dr. Laing, who is still quite madly in love with his wife, have anything to do with getting rid of some of the “tribe’s” more inconvenient and troublesome members?

I have read a plethora of mysteries and psychological thrillers and take great pride in assessing the different people who could have possibly done what to whom, and how it all eventually plays out.

Which is exactly what I started to do when the first member of the “tribe” goes missing – and is, in fact, found quite dead.

And then there were six.

And then there were five.

And then…

Kalla’s ongoing bookish themes on topics that dominate current headlines – ketamine is attributed as being the main cause of “Friends” star, Matthew Perry’s recent death – offers up an intriguing fast-paced mix of what we didn’t know, what we should know, and what are deliciously hidden Easter eggs of “who done it,” until the last chapters are read.

Kalla writes in such a way that I wouldn’t mind making a visit to his ER so he could read me one of his engaging thriller mysteries.

Now that, folks, I would consider to be the best medicine of all.

@simonschusterca @danielkallawrites #HighSociety #fiction #mystery #emergencyroom #MatthewPerry #Friends

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Cece is the feature cover writer for several prestigious publications both in print and online, and is an informed, connected and enthusiastic book blogger at cecescott.com. Her first book, The Love Story, was published in 2019, and was named one of “8 Books That Will Change Your Life,” by City Life Magazine.
Her books, “Nunzio Tumino: A Pocketful of Dreams: An Immigrant’s Journey,” and “Helping People One Hand At A Time” are all available on amazon.ca.
Cece is also working on a book of Daily Pick-Me-Ups for AutoImmune and other Life Warriors, called:
“My Body Parts Are On Recall But I’ve Still Got Gas in my Tank.”
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