Capt. Jim Kosmo
Beaver’s Pond Press (2017)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/17)
“Monsters in the Hallway” by Capt. Jim Kosmo is one of those books that will keep you captivated till the very last page. What I particularly liked about this read is it based on a true story, with a bit of murder mystery included.
Jim Kosmo’s family lived in Eau Claire, Wisconsin during the 1950s when his father tried to kill the family and was sent to an insane asylum. During his dad’s stint in the asylum, a boy scout is murdered, a girl goes missing from choir practice, and a patient from the mental hospital escapes.
Throughout the time his father is institutionalized, Jason (the character’s name) battles bullies, poverty, tries to figure out if his dad will ever be “normal” again, and wonders will he “catch” this illness. Jason finds a mentor and father figure in Detective Joe Stroud, who is not only investigating these unusual cases that occurred in Eau Claire, but also hopes to reveal his dark secret so he will feel free again.
There are several things brought out in the book that provides readers with insight into how mental illness was treated in the 1950s, the impact on the family, and the fear that the mental patient may go crazy and kill everyone around them. At the time, treatment of these patients was more trial and error than sound treatment; medicating patients until they were docile and compliant, or performing lobotomies that were not only dangerous, but had no standards to follow.
The author states, “I felt that these tough topics might appeal to a broader general audience if presented in a fictional, non-threatening voice.” I find this to be true, especially in today’s world when neighborhoods fight having homeless or patients discharged from mental health hospitals living in group homes in their neighborhood.
While Jason can clear his father's name, he finds it very difficult to address his sexual assault by an assistant Boy Scout leader. Again, readers will find the controversies of scout leaders, coaches, and teachers sexually assaulting kids under their care another issue that will provide thought provoking debates.
“Monsters in the Hallway” by Capt. Jim Kosmo is definitely a book I would recommend to all readers. It is well written, easy to read and the author has clearly done his research.