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Fiction Women Sleuths

Primary Obsessions

by (author) Charles Demers

Douglas & McIntyre
Initial publish date
Sep 2020
Women Sleuths, General, Amateur Sleuth
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2020
    List Price

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The endearing and unflappable Dr. Annick Boudreau regularly confronts a myriad of mental health issues in her psychology practice at the West Coast Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia. But even Annick is stunned when Sanjay, a young patient who suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, is arrested for the brutal murder of his roommate. While Sanjay is tortured by repeated violent thoughts, everything Annick knows about her patient and his illness has her convinced that he’s innocent. But the police and prosecutor are convinced that they have caught the perpetrator and aren’t interested in looking very hard. Unable to talk to the authorities because of doctor-patient confidentiality, Annick feels compelled to investigate on her own, finding herself drawn into the darker side of her postcard-perfect city in the process.

Primary Obsessions is the first book in a series of mysteries starring Dr. Annick Boudreau and involving themes of mental health. Author (and longtime CBT patient) Charles Demers deftly reveals a particular aspect of psychology practice in each book, illuminating shadowy subject matter with masterful sensitivity and sharp wit. Primary Obsessions is an engrossing page-turner and a refreshing reboot of the sleuth genre.

About the author

Charles Demers was born and raised in Vancouver. He is an activist and comedian, a regular performer on CBC Radio One's The Debaters, and former co-host of Citytv's comedic panel show "The Citynews List" in Vancouver. In 2005, he was the judges' choice for Vancouver's funniest new comic; since then he has been featured on national radio, in print, as well as in festivals and live venues across Canada and the Pacific Northwest and with Paul Bae as the sketch duo "Bucket"?the act Robin Williams called "the future of comedy." His book Vancouver Special was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2009, and was shortlisted for the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize at the BC Book Prizes. His first novel, The Prescription Errors, was published in 2009 by Insomniac Press.

Follow Charles Demers on Twitter.

Charles Demers' profile page


  • Short-listed, Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award

Editorial Reviews

“As the first of a projected series of mystery novels featuring Dr. Annick Boudreau, Primary Obsessions is a cracking good start. Boudreau is a likeable protagonist and mental illness is a subject surprisingly under-addressed by current mystery writers...By writing a novel that revolves around relatively common Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, rather than some rare violent psychopathology, Charles Demers brings freshness to a literary genre that has been in danger of turning as ripe as a week-old murder victim.”

John Moore, <i>BC BookWorld</i>

“In Primary Obsessions, Charles Demers captures the way that the pain of mental illness is made even worse by stigma and ignorance. This is a page-turning mystery that’s ultimately about trying to help our loved ones through their darkest days.”

Kelly Hrudey, <i>Hockey Night in Canada</i> and Sportsnet analyst and mental health advocate

“’s surprisingly nimble-footed and bright, with a romp-like atmosphere: Crime solving as a breezy adventure.”

Brett Joseph Grubisic, <i>The Vancouver Sun</i>

Primary Obsessions by Charles Demers launches a new series of deftly crafted mysteries starring Dr. Annick Boudreau and involving themes of mental health. A longtime CBT patient himself, Charles Demers brings authenticity to a particular aspect of psychiatric practice Primary Obsessions, illuminating shadowy subject matter with sensitivity, wit, and the kind of narrative storytelling style that engages the reader's full and rapt attention from first page to last.”

Clint Travis, <i>Midwest Book Review</i>

“Dr. Annick Boudreau is an investigator with intelligence, compassion, and curiosity who never leaps to an early diagnosis. Demers writes sharp, witty dialogue and delivers a nuanced portrayal of the stigmatization of mental illness in collision with crime.”

Nathan Ripley, author of <i>Find You in the Dark</i>

Primary Obsessions is a welcome addition to the accidental psychologist/detective genre. Dr. Annick Boudreau is a smart, caffeinated heroine whose reckless but earnest drive to save her patient from a murder charge makes for a fast and exciting read from start to finish…I look forward to her next case!”

Iona Whishaw, author of the Lane Winslow series

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