Forensic psychologist by day, novelist by night, Ellery Kane has been writing--professionally and creatively--for as long as she can remember. Just like many of her main characters, Ellery loves to ask why, which is the reason she became a psychologist in the first place. Real life really is stranger than fiction, and Ellery's writing is often inspired by her day job. Evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims, she has gained a unique perspective on the past and its indelible influence on the individual. And she's heard her fair share of real life thrillers. An avid short story writer as a teenager, Ellery recently began writing for enjoyment again, and she hasn't stopped since.
Ellery's debut novel, Legacy, has received several awards, including winning the Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, young adult, e-book category. In 2016, Ellery was selected as one of ten semifinalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition.
“A dark, emotional story about rebellion, closely in the tradition of the Divergent and Legend trilogies.”
– Kirkus Reviews
A mother hunts for her daughter’s killer in Kane’s latest psychological thriller in a series.
Dr. Mollie Roar was once a successful psychologist working at Napa State Hospital in California. However, the kidnapping and murder of her 15-year-old daughter, Dakota, two years ago led to the dissolution of Mollie’s marriage to Dakota’s father, Cole, and now Mollie spends much of her time drinking or going to a support group for grieving parents. There, she finds solace in her friend and occasional lover, Grant Sawyer. Dakota’s murder is still unsolved, but rumor has it that the perpetrator is the Shadow Man, a prolific serial killer who’s local to Napa. When terminally ill Vietnam veteran Wendall Grady begins seeing Mollie as a therapy client to confess his past sins, he reveals information that fuels her desire to further investigate her daughter’s murder. A parallel plotline set before the teen’s death shows Dakota’s increasing interest in serial killers—the Shadow Man, in particular—and her involvement in an online sleuthing forum. Mollie, in the present, learns more about her child and tries to piece the truth together while coming to terms with her own guilt about her flawed parenting. Kane’s stellar fourth book in her Doctors of Darkness series stays true to the conventions of the thriller genre, building anticipation and exploring untrustworthy characters, without ever feeling formulaic. Mollie’s chapters, in particular, are filled with anguish: “The drawer stays shut, but I know the past is alive inside it. It’s unburied now. And it may as well be a hand clawing up from its shallow grave to seize me by the throat.” The juxtaposition of Dakota’s investigations into the Shadow Man works very well and effectively develops a sense of intrigue. The teenager isn’t merely a murder victim, but a well-developed character; she reluctantly learns that her parents are imperfect, deals with boys who want too much too soon, and has disagreements with her best friend. Mollie is also a fully realized figure who’s both unlikable and sympathetic, by turns.
An absorbing tale and an adept examination of grief.
Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2019
Page count: 440pp
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021
A California psychotherapist faces the exposure of her secrets when her ex-husband and his wife suffer brutal deaths in this thriller.
Dr. Ava Lawson is taken aback by the deaths of Ian and Kate Culpepper, known as the Love Doctors for their short-lived reality TV show. Ava was married to Ian, who left her several years ago for Kate. When Ava’s boyfriend, cop Luke Donovan, asks her when she last saw Ian, she lies. That’s because her most recent contact with Ian involved a memory card with something incriminating. But after the police rule the Culpeppers’ deaths a double homicide, they’re looking at Ava for it, as a dying Ian had apparently written her name in blood. At the same time, an anonymous caller vaguely threatens Ava: “I know what you did.” Ava believes this is karma, in response to something “unforgivable” that she and Ian did. But she won’t sit idly by while someone frames her for the homicides, such as attempting to plant the murder weapon on her. Ava knows a handful of individuals with motives for killing the Culpeppers, and though she’s lying to Luke and others, she isn’t the only one being deceitful. This is the third installment of Kane’s (The Hanging Tree, 2018, etc.) thematically linked Doctors of Darkness series. The volume is just as bleak as that title suggests, as Ava throughout engages in shady, sometimes criminal behavior. But many of the author’s intricately drawn characters are less than savory, which makes for a grim story but also a more likable Ava, because her deeds aren’t as shocking as others’ actions. The tightly written narrative becomes a white-knuckle, ticking clock, as the police investigation zeros in on Ava and she gets closer to a killer. Kane skillfully bounces the plot from present day to intermittent flashbacks, chronicling the pre- and post-years of Ava’s marriage to Ian. Likewise, periodic newspaper articles and exposés keep the public—and readers—updated with details on the ongoing homicide case.
A taut, gripping tale of murder, therapy, and duplicity.
Pub Date: Dec. 27, 2018
Page count: 338pp
Publisher: Ellery Kane Publishing
Review Posted Online: June 27, 2019
The second novel in the Doctors of Darkness series follows a psychologist and murderer 23 years after incidents that changed their lives forever.
On Friday, May 13, 1994, 13-year-old orphan Evie Allcott and her best (and only) friend Cassie, clutching their cherry Slurpees, accepted a ride from a stranger. Now, in 2017, Evie, a widowed 36-year-old psychologist for sex offenders, is still deeply affected by that night—even though she can’t fully recall it. She believes that Cassie was strangled by a man at “the hanging tree,” a disturbing landmark in their city of Oakland, California. In a desperate search for answers, Evie hitchhikes every other Friday, hoping for a dangerous situation to jog her memory. One night, someone does try to kill her, although it doesn’t make her remember the old crime; however, 41-year-old Butch Calder, who knew Evie in their youth, saves her. Back in 1994, Butch strangled his childhood crush after she rejected him, and he was only recently released from prison. The story alternates between the two main characters’ perspectives, jumping between 1994 and events in 2017, such as the addition of troubled Sebastian Delacourt to Evie’s therapy sessions. When another young girl is murdered at the hanging tree, detectives work to find the culprit, and Evie withholds some information from them. In the end, she grapples with a familiar question: “how do you destroy a devil without becoming one?” The story, by real-life psychologist Kane (Daddy Darkest, 2017, etc.), provides a captivating look into its characters’ complicated minds, and a psychological study of the effects of childhood distress: It’s revealed that Gwen’s wealthy father neglected her, which led to her kleptomaniac behavior, and Evie watched her mother die of a heroin overdose at the hands of a pimp, which may have led her to want to help people as an adult. The fast-paced story flows with precision, and Kane’s decision to reveal the crimes early on, before building up to the 1994 murder, generates genuine suspense. However, readers should be warned that this book deals with very sensitive subjects, including pedophilia and rape.
An excellent, though disturbing, look at a woman’s desperate search for closure.
Pub Date: April 1, 2018
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Time Tunnel Media
Review Posted Online: July 23, 2018
A teenager’s disappearance in an airport sets off a dramatic chain of events surrounding an escaped killer and some hard-won truths about love and possession—and how both can have disastrous consequences.
Forensic psychologist Kane (Legacy, 2016, etc.) parlays her knowledge of and experience with criminal behavior and trauma victims into this novel marking the first in the Doctors of Darkness series. The story features recent high school graduate Samantha “Sam” Bronwyn and her plucky best friend, Ginny Dalton, who travel to San Francisco for a post-school romp against her mother’s wishes. The girls’ dream escape vacation falls apart quickly when Ginny, wearing Sam’s basketball tournament jacket, seemingly vanishes from an airport bathroom without a trace, save for her cellphone. It displays a short message somehow involving Sam’s mother’s name, Clare. Befriending handsome fellow passenger Levi Beckett somehow softens Sam’s anxiety about her missing friend, though an escaped murderer from San Quentin named Cutthroat Cullen wanders the Bay Area undetected and frightens everyone citywide. Cryptic phone messages, a possible mistaken identity, and the determination that Sam was actually the abductor’s intended target are developmental plot points all smartly set against a moody, treacherous, foggy San Francisco backdrop. Adding romance to intrigue is Sam’s smoldering attraction to Levi and his “leather and soap”–scented swagger. As Cullen continues his murder spree across the city in the present day, Kane masterfully weaves in flashback chapters that fill in the killer’s homicidal history with a prison psychologist, who she really is, and how she became ensnared in his deadly head games. As both narratives run parallel to each other and the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place, the author tosses in a few surprises—just enough to keep readers on their toes and the guessing game between Sam and Levi tightly drawn. Because the book is fast-paced and gripping, careful attention is required to absorb the tale’s abundance of crucial details. Though the action is consistently busy, everything ends up gelling nicely in the compelling novel’s final third when the search for Ginny intensifies and the clock ticks down toward a final showdown. This feverishly drawn thriller places Kane’s clever control of crime fiction and knack for memorable characters on full display.
A rigorously written and rousing murder mystery fueled by aggressive plotting and stocked with effervescent youth.
Pub Date: June 1, 2017
Page count: 358pp
Review Posted Online: July 31, 2017
In Kane’s (Prophecy, 2015, etc.) final installment of the Legacy trilogy, a teenage girl puts her life on the line to try to destroy a sinister company that produces powerful, mood-altering drugs.
It’s been 75 days since a secretive man named Quin McAllister left the San Francisco Bay Area and Lex Knightley’s life. Government authorities have instituted curfews and set up checkpoints to crack down on the consumption of “emotion-altering medications,” or EAMs. The newest, most dangerous EAM is Onyx, which causes aggressive behavior and has led to an explosion of gang violence on San Francisco’s foggy streets. Meanwhile, Lex has been hiding a fugitive Resistance leader-turned-drug czar named Augustus Porter, despite her hatred of him, as she hopes to obtain insider information that will help bring down EAM manufacturer Zenigenic and its ruthless, power-hungry CEO, Xander Steele. When Quin abruptly returns and teams up with Zenigenic as a spokesman for a new medication designed to make the world kinder, Lex knows there must be more to this strange alliance than meets the eye. Lex, with the help of some friends—including her intrepid reporter father and the somewhat untrustworthy Augustus—hopes to fulfill the wishes of her deceased mother, a Zenigenic psychiatrist who regretted her prominent role in the creation of EAMs. She plans to do so by solving the mystery and exposing the corporation’s dirty deeds once and for all. Kane throws readers right into the deep end without wasting any time recapping previous novels in the series. Fortunately, readers will likely find that her vividly detailed world and complex characters have lingered with them since Prophecy (2015). Lex has developed and matured a great deal since readers met her in Legacy (2014), though she still occasionally feels like a Mary Sue—a little too perfect to be real. The book is at its best when it focuses on the tragic psychological fallout from EAM usage, and at its worst when it focuses on Lex and Quin’s dull romance; they lack the spark to stand out from every other star-crossed dystopian duo. The book’s frenetic climax, set at the iconic Bay Bridge, will leave readers breathless and wanting more from Kane and her fictional world.
A satisfying conclusion to a flawed but often fantastically entertaining trilogy.
Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2016
Page count: 276pp
Publisher: Dog Ear
Review Posted Online: April 8, 2016
In this dystopian thriller, a teenage girl is sent by her scientist mother to bring valuable information to those in rebellion against the totalitarian government.
Lex Knightley’s mother, Victoria, is a famous psychiatric researcher who specialized in creating powerful mood-altering drugs, most famously Emovere, which suppresses fear. When the drug is discovered to be dangerous, the federal government clamps down on the chaos, but not soon enough. Small, rebellious factions known as the Resistance violently demand that such drugs be removed from the market. San Francisco becomes a desolate wasteland controlled by the Guardian Force, a police unit made up of soldiers whose minds have been altered by Emovere and other drugs related to Victoria’s studies. Full of regrets, Victoria sends her daughter into the dangerous heart of San Francisco to liaise with the Resistance and pass along a flash drive containing knowledge that may help them. Upon her arrival, Lex encounters Quin McAllister, an attractive young former Guardian soldier turned Resistance fighter, who brings Lex to the underground home of the rebels and introduces her to their leader, Augustus Porter. However, despite his charms, Augustus appears to be hiding something—and he doesn’t want anyone else to know about Victoria’s flash drive. Meanwhile, Lex and Quin start to fall for each other, despite Quin’s fears that the violence in his past will continue to affect his future. Lex isn’t a terribly unique protagonist, with little to distinguish her from the standard strong heroine mold, and many of the themes and situations in the story feel a bit too derivative of successful dystopian YA franchises. In particular, the authorities’ strategic use of chemicals to alter people’s emotions and keep society in check isn’t too far from Divergent. Where debut author and forensic psychologist Kane makes her story stand out from the pack is in the deft way she deals with heavy themes related to child abuse, PTSD and the fear that people cannot ever truly leave the demons of their past behind—not to mention the intense struggle that ensues when one falls in love with someone still carrying those demons.
A dark, emotional story about rebellion, closely in the tradition of the Divergent and Legend trilogies.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2014
Page count: 254pp
Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2015
In the sequel to Legacy (2014), teen heroine Lex Knightley has moved on and started a new life with her boyfriend—until his father is charged with another violent act.
Things have changed since readers last saw Lex. The brutal Guardian Force has been disbanded, and dangerous emotion-altering drugs, such as Emovere (which suppresses fear) and Eupho (which boosts happiness to the point of giddiness), have been banned. People are repopulating the abandoned city of San Francisco and salvaging whatever they can of their normal lives. Lex is living with her father, taking classes at the newly reopened Stanford University, and falling deeper in love with Quin McAllister despite his emotional baggage. However, everything falls apart when Quin’s father, George, is accused of the brutal murder of his new wife, Shelly. He was previously jailed for murdering Quin’s mother; his violent behavior was possibly the result of a rare genetic marker that Quin may also carry. Quin is confident that his father is innocent of this new crime, but Lex isn’t so sure. As her relationship with Quin threatens to crumble under the weight of too many secrets, Lex begins to uncover evidence that George is being framed—and that Resistance leader–turned–drug czar Augustus Porter may be involved. Author Kane is also a forensic psychologist with experience evaluating violent criminals and treating trauma victims like those who populate her dark, disturbing dystopia. Because of this, her characters feel like well-rounded humans, right down to their all-too-real flaws and self-sabotaging emotional impulses. Her vision of an alternate San Francisco will appeal to fans of Philip K. Dick, while Lex and Quin’s love story will recall Tris and Four’s in Divergent, for better or for worse. A warning: one needs to have read Legacy in order have any inkling of what’s going on here, and even then, enough time has passed on the page that readers may occasionally be confused.
A solid second installment in a dystopian drama that hinges on human emotion.
Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2014
Page count: 258pp
Publisher: Dog Ear
Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2015
LEGACY: Finalist, Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards, 2017
LEGACY: Gold Medal, Independent Publisher Book Awards, e-book category, 2015
LEGACY: Honorable Mention, San Francisco Book Festival, Young Adult Category, 2015
LEGACY: Notable Book, Shelf Unbound Writing Competition, epic saga category, 2014
LEGACY: Runner-Up, Florida Book Festival, Young Adult Category, 2014Ellery Kane selected as one of ten semifinalists in James Patterson Co-Author Competition, 2016 Meet Ellery Kane, Semifinalist, 2016 Three Author Solutions Titles Honored with 2015 IPPY Awards, 2015
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