A school psychologist is romanced by a man with ties to the Mafia in the author’s debut thriller.
Abbey Price, working as a psychologist for a school district in New Jersey, is shocked when she’s told that a student she’d been helping has committed suicide. Acting as an amateur sleuth, she looks into the death while at the same time being wooed by Mike, whose father, Frank Russo, heads a crime syndicate. Mike does his best to distance himself from the violence associated with his family, neither he nor Abbey realizing that the mob may be the answer to Abbey’s unofficial investigation. Hersey’s novel delivers what readers look for in the genre, opening with an unknown woman, beaten and bound, approached by an unknown man in a suit and tie. These two characters aren’t identified until much later in the story, and anticipation builds as Abbey is drawn into Mike’s dangerous life. Parts of the narrative do feel repetitive: Frank’s unmasked “disappointment” in his son is too frequently noted. And it’s hard to ignore Abbey’s selfish behavior: She talks to the dead student’s friend and visits the father—even having Mike distract him while she searches a bedroom—to alleviate her own guilt regarding the suicide. Notwithstanding, Abbey is an appealing protagonist, one whose distrust in men is understandable; she’s endured a cheating boyfriend, her father’s suicide and the death of a friend. Her relationship with Mike, an equally laudable character, is traditional—Mike asks first before holding Abbey’s hand or putting his arm around her—and it’s a welcome counterbalance to a novel rampant with hardened criminals.
A fetching, believable romance injected into a rough-around-the-edges thriller.