THE FIRST CUT by Ellery A. Kane

THE FIRST CUT

From the "Doctors of Darkness" series, volume 3
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KIRKUS REVIEW

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. 27th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-578-40133-1
Page count: 338pp
Publisher: Ellery Kane Publishing
Program: Kirkus Indie
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