A Colorado-based therapist becomes embroiled in a murder investigation after one of his patients kills his mentor in Vors’ debut psychological thriller.
Alan Greene survives a savage encounter with his patient Alyson Woods, but his mentor and friend, Hal Kreige, dies from multiple stab wounds. The two therapists had been treating Alyson with a new form of hypnotherapy called “the Housing Method.” Using this approach, she would place repressed memories into imaginary containers in order to access painful recollections gradually, and at a distance. Local cops are immediately on the hunt for fugitive Alyson, and soon, FBI operatives arrive in Cherokee County. Agent Peter Poole and Roni Price, a forensic psychology professor, are looking into cases of missing people who were last seen in, near, or headed toward Cherokee; one of them recently turned up dead with wounds that were similar to Kreige’s. As authorities search for the elusive Alyson, Roni learns about the Housing Method. It turns out that Alyson imagined dogs as part of her therapy, each with his or her own name and voice. It’s apparent that the dogs slowly began to manifest in her psyche, like multiple personalities—and any one of them may be a killer. Vors’ smart, razor-edged prose will quickly draw readers into the narrative. The dogs in Alyson’s mind, for example, are strikingly described—they’re all distinctive breeds, as Alyson imagines them—and the fact that the canines speak adds a surreal quality. The other characters all have well-developed personalities; they include the investigators working Kreige’s homicide, such as Sgt. Terry Hayes, who dislikes the FBI. Vors complicates the predictable attraction between Alan and Roni by offering parallels between the two characters; they’re both university professors with sex-related troubles (he’s slept with students, and she’s a recovering sex addict). Some readers will see one notable plot twist coming, but there are a handful of surprises in the tense final act.
A slow-burning but absorbing serial-killer tale with notable characters.