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Skull Session

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  769 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
Back in print and accompanied by its prequel Puppets, the bestselling Skull Session is a classic tale of suspense. Despite his brilliance, Paul Skoglund hasn't held a steady job for years, partly because of his Tourette's syndrome. When his eccentric, wealthy aunt asks him to take on the repairs of her magnificent hunting lodge, he is in no position to refuse. But then he ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published July 11th 2005 by Bloomsbury USA (first published November 10th 1998)
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Brian Steele
Apr 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, thriller
Honestly, I didn't expect to like this book. I definitely didn't expect to become completely engrossed in it. This is some type of bizarre cross-genre novel; medical mystery, haunted house horror, psychological thriller & semi-supernatural urban fantasy. Whatever you want to call it, it was a great read.

Hecht dives into the concepts surrounding abnormal psychology and how much we still don't know about the human mind. With tons of info and (what seems like) personal accounts of Tourrets and
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another great book by Daniel Hecht! How did I not know about this author sooner???? His books are really detailed and the characters are wonderful. I have to admit that some of the horror in the books is a bit hockey (especially in this one), but the characters are so great it really makes no difference. I have two more of his to go and then it is time to pray that he writes another one. I have thoroughly enjoyed Hecht's books. All of them!!!!
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Was going to give this 4 stars until the last 30 pages ripped off my head & pooped down my neck. Hecht was a great guitarist, to end on a positive note.
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Mystery fans interested in disabilities
Recommended to Michael by: recommended when first published
Paul Skoglund hasn't had a permanent job in years, partly due to his Tourette's syndrom. He's asked by his Aunt Vivian to repair her nineteenth-century hunting lodge in the Hudson Valley.

The home has suffered severe damage. Paul had been attending college courses to improve his job prospects but knows he needs steady employment. His former wife, Janet, is attempting to gain custody of their son, Mark, because of Paul's condition.

Paul agrees to the repairs. While he's at it, he asks his aunt if
SKULL SESSION (Neurological Thriller-NY-Cont) – VG
Daniel Hecht – 1st book
Viking, 1998 - Hardcover
Paul Skoglund, unable to keep a job due to having Tourette’s, agrees to clean up and start repairs on the vandalized house owned by his estranged aunt. But when he sees the extent of destruction and learns from a local policeman that a number of young people have gone missing or died in that area, it’s clear there is more going on than simple vandalism.
*** This book caught me up from page one and hel
Teri Christman
Mar 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Fairly interesting story of a man with Tourettes hired by his aunt to repair her badly vandalized mansion. While digging through her papers family secrets begin to be revealed. Interesting, likable characters! And while I liked the emphasis on the medical aspects, exploring the mind of Tourettes, it builds up to quite an unbelievable and unsatisfying ending.
Dit boek viel wat tegen. Ik had er meer van verwacht. Het begint wel goed. Maar op een gegeven moment zakt het verhaal wat in en dat blijft eigenlijk zo. Ik heb het uitgelezen, omdat ik graag wilde weten hoe het mysterie in elkaar zat. Echter, ook dat viel wat tegen. Het was niet voorspelbaar. Wat een pluspunt is. Maar het was ook niet zo eng als ik verwacht had. Het hele verhaal door wordt duidelijk dat er een duister geheim is. Hetgeen mij nieuwsgierig maakte. Maar als je bij de ontknoping kom ...more
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
One thing I liked about this book was the fact that the copy I got was a proof book, so it had a bunch of amusing little typos in it. The sister's name was different fr a whole chapter, for example. The main character refers to his aunt's 'horse' instead of house at one point. Things like that.

The rest of the book, though? Meh. A lot of the plot hinged on people not communicating with each other and being purposefully vague. 'I guess you'll just have to figure it out on your own'. Yeah, or you c
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Book Review originally published here:

Do you know the kind of book that starts out great, builds this wonderful, delightfully creepy plot, introduces you to these amazing characters with detailed, complex, three-dimensional personalities, all of them with their own quirks and characteristics? The suspense is so palpable you’re on the edge of your seat and you just can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

Until it does play out, and the big reveal is so shoc
Jan 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is it better to out-monster the monster or to be quietly devoured?” - Friedrich Nietzsche

At first glance Daniel Hecht's Skull Session is a path through the woods that you've walked down many times. You can glance around as you walk and see that there is the familiar fallen tree, its gnarled roots grasping at the air; and here is the swampy area where the frogs like to hang out. Yes, it's all familiar territory and you can anticipate the place where the path ends exactly. It's a beautiful walk,
Apr 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
I just lost the whole review for the second time by accidentally hitting some unknown key--ugh!

Bottom line: this book is great. I don't usually read thrillers because sometimes they're not well written. Hecht's book, however, struck the perfect balance between fine writing and page-turning action suspense. The characters were all real and believable--even funny, sad, fascinating. I loved Paul's and Mo's close-third narrative; what wonderful, interesting minds! This narrative quality coupled with
Nov 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2009-reads
I picked up this book based on my enjoyment of Daniel Hecht’s Cree Black series. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much. An unemployed teacher, who happens to have Turret’s, takes on the job of renovating his aunt’s large home. In the renovation process he uncovers many family secrets. Reading this book I never really got to like any of the characters, so those horrible family secrets didn’t mean a lot to me. Finished the book only because I felt I should.
Nov 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
As thrillers go this is a pretty good one. The protagonist has Tourettes Syndrome and as he tries to solve the mystery about his past and his mind he gets caught up in the murder/disappearance of some local youth.

Who killed them? Was it a demon, a crazed cop, a psychotic family member, an alien life presence? The book does a good job keeping the reader off balance and guessing.
Sherrill Watson
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
See David S.' review.

Well, I heard much more about Tourette's and autism than my ears could take, but I guess it's a learning experience. Paul is fighting Tourette's, and his son Mark, has autism & several other "skull" problems; Paul is carefully fighting his ex for custody. Meanwhile, his aunt wants him to clean up her badly mauled house in Hudson Valley. He begins the job, but finds several missing persons and a gruesome murder(?). At first separately, he and Mo / Morgan (a breath of norm
Paulette Crabiel Wahler
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book very much - but was not happy about the ending - was an interesting concept of the book - would like to know about what year the book took place since no cellphones I'm assuming
Aristea Vandenbriele
Ik kon dit boek wel in één ruk uitlezen. Spannend en onvoorspelbaar, bibberen. Verrast door het einde.
Karin Dirkx
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book but the ending
This is an interesting book on many levels, and had me hooked from the first page and, as much as it may seem that this would be an automatic 5 thumbs review, there were parts of this novel that pulled it down to a 4 thumbs rating.

The main protagonist suffers from Tourette’s syndrome which in itself is an unusual choice of malady to use in a protagonist. However, it works well with the subject matter of the book and, through the struggles the main lead has with his condition the reader learns a
David S.
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, audio, horror, suspense
So many things to digest when reading(listening) to this novel. Hecht educates the reader to some of the hardships/problems that people with some psychological disabilities face on a day-to-day basis. But, even though his characters deal with either Turrets, or an aggressive form of Autism, it doesn't take away from the terrific story he is telling.

At the heart, it concerns Paul, who is an over-educated, unemployed person who happens to suffer from Turrets. He is in the middle of a custody battl
Jan 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
De hoofdpersoon van deze roman is Paul Skoglund, lijder aan het syndroom van Gilles de la Tourette. De medicijnen die Paul hiervoor slikt maken zijn ziekte behapbaar, maar ondanks dat is het voor hem onmogelijk zijn beroep van leraar uit te oefenen. Paul woont samen met zijn vriendin Lia. Hij is eerder getrouwd geweest, en deelt met zijn ex de zorg voor hun zoon Mark. Tenminste, voor zolang het nog duurt want zij vindt dat Paul een slechte invloed op de eveneens met neurologische problemen kampe ...more
Gary Scott Gebert
Though I read this book a while ago I still think about it. The way Daniel put the characters together was incredible. I still feel their frailties and their strength. My favorite / haunting excerpt:

But I’ve decided on a title for the story. I call it “Five Things Worse Than Dying”, because the schizophrenic girl keeps thinking of things and she makes a list. Here’s the list:

1. Being just a meat machine, almost like your trapped inside of it, it does what it does whether you want it to or not.

Feb 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: For all that love a fast paced, good written thriller.
Recommended to BoekenTrol by: creativechaos
Wow, what a book!!
I am really stunned how the author put so many pieces of a puzzle into the story, shakes them and gets them back in logic order in a way that kept me reading, reading and wanting to read more.

The detective, Mo Ford, is investigating deaths of youth in the area, despite his superior don't want him to do it.
Paul and Lia are renovating the badly damaged house of his aunt. At first sight, these things have nothing in common.
When the story unfolds though, there are more and more pi
Kristin Lundgren
Jun 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: horror, psychological
This is a psychological thriller about a young man who has Tourette's, his son who suffers from some unknown neurological disease similar to autism, but with epileptic episodes, his girlfriend, and his family, who are somewhat normal and some who seem crazy. He is a teacher, without a job, and needs money, so when his crazy aunt calls and asks him to look in on her mansion up in Westchester County, NY, and repair the extensive damage done by vandalism, he accepts. So he and his girlfriend move u ...more
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Op de achterflap staat vermeld dat Geestdrift een literaire thriller is van een grote intensiteit, ik kan ik hier volmondig mee instemmen. Het boek heeft veel vaart, zakt nergens in ondanks de ruim 500 pagina's, heeft een redelijk geloofwaardig en intrigerend verhaal, een matig plot, personages zijn zeer goed uitgewerkt, de neurologische en psychologische aspecten van diverse mensen worden goed en helder beschreven, het boek pakt je vanaf de eerste bladzijde tot aan de laatste, kortom, dit boek ...more
Nov 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is possibly one of my favorite books, which is so weird, because I usually don't read this sort of stuff, medical mystery, if you will. I picked it up at the Family Dollar one summer for a beach read, and just fell in love with it. The main character struggles with Tourette's syndrome, and experiments going off his meds, which makes him develop odd abilities. But what Hecht does with this simple story is fantastic--completely believable and exciting. The ending was somewhat corny, but a fan ...more
Seth Pierce
Jul 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting use of Tourettes as a characteristic that is helpful to a protagonist. While the end is a little gory for my taste, the plot twist is fairly satisfying and the ending is good, not a downer, though def a few sad parts. Themes discussed are mental illness, loneliness, parenting, marriage, love, and family dynamics and secrets.A few moments that caught me for guard and good writing carried the story along--the villain was not who I expected, and the revelations come rapid fire in t ...more
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: listen-to
I like this author! Skull Session is a Mystery Thriller with an unexpected ending and just maybe a hint at another book and I would read it! Fast paced book involving murders, a mansion out in the woods and a mysterious family history. This read will keep you guessing and just when you think you have it all figured out -because you are so clever about these things- the author will be one step ahead of you and that is so refreshing from a book that I thought would be somewhat predictable but so g ...more
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Really love this book. Aside from the all to real effects of medication, I also read is a metaphor, of growing and allowing ourselves to become what we potentially can, and ignore any constraints/bounds that were somehow "learned", internalised, either through parents or simply the society and the general expectations.
Of course it is a compelling idea we could be stronger than we mentally expect; or otherwise: the strength we mentally assign to ourselves could also be a limiting factor. Maybe we
Jun 13, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
Eh - not so much... I loved the Cree Black series and so picked this up on Audible for the ride to work. I really liked the characters and the whole build up to the climax was fabulous -- but, I found the end to be just ridiculous. Hecht spends A LOT of time going into long, specific details of certain medical conditions setting the reader up for the skepticism that will occur ... however, on me, it didn't work. It seemed overly melodramatic and a little bit B-grade monster movie-ish, which was ...more

This was a very weird book. It's starts like an ordinary thriller. The main character, troubled with many problems (his Tourette's syndrome, not having a job, you name it), is asked by his aunt to renovate one of her houses. It seems strange things have happened in the house, and young people have gone missing.

So far, so good. Although not extremely original perhaps. But then it takes a turn for the bizarre and extreme, turning it more and more in to something either fantasy or horr
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“The sinister is always the unintelligible, the impressive, the numinous. Wherever something divine appears, we begin to experience fear. . . . Everything that has to do with salvation possesses, among other things, a sinister, unfamiliar character; it always includes the superhuman. It is a specifically human trait to find joy in destruction. —ADOLF GUGGENBUHL-CRAIG” 0 likes
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