THE NINTH SESSION by Deborah  Serani


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In this thriller, a tenacious New York psychologist tries to help a patient who may be a murderer.

Dr. Alicia Reese’s initial encounter with Luke Ferro is unorthodox, as he has a panic attack before their first session begins. But that night, she spots a black sedan near her house before it drives away, and she worries Luke followed her home. Despite assuring herself that it wasn’t her new patient (he drives an entirely different car), Alicia can’t help but associate a feeling of dread with Luke. In a later session, Luke claims he’s killed someone—an individual from another state who’s currently missing. Alicia looks into the supposed murder as furtively as possible, so as not to breach confidentiality. Regardless, she’s determined to remain Luke’s doctor and provide whatever psychological assistance he’ll need. But an unexpected event changes everything and makes Alicia question her choices. Luckily, she has the support of her supervisor, Dr. Susan Prader, and her older sister, Nicole Cappas, who is deaf. But delving into Luke’s background is a task Alicia handles on her own, igniting her fears that he’s a patient she simply can’t help. Author/psychologist Serani’s (Depression in Later Life, 2017, etc.) first foray into fiction is a taut, suspenseful tale. Periodic chapter headers number the sessions, leaving readers in anticipation of the one that the title playfully teases. While some readers will guess a plot turn, it still effectively shifts the story in a new direction. Moreover, it precipitates several additional twists and a relentlessly tense final act. As a protagonist, Alicia is professional (her notes trail each session) and sympathetic. She, for example, lost both parents and her husband, Ryan, in a relatively short time and is a child of deaf adults, or coda, who frequently signs with Nicole. Alicia is also devoted to psychology, and she won’t easily give up on Luke, notwithstanding his potential psychopathy.

A smartly written, edgy story with a keen, tireless heroine.

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 2019
Page count: 190pp
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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