Far from prurient but also far from thrilling, like a femme and somewhat toned-down Jonathan Kellerman entry.

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THE HALO EFFECT

Rose (Sheet Music, 2003, etc.) launches a series starring Dr. Morgan Snow, who, here, gets roped into a case involving a serial killer and a high-price prostitute.

Snow is a career sex therapist at the Butterfield Institute, sort of like a Hall of Justice for people in this field. There’s a murderer on the loose, one of those ritualistic types so beloved of novelists—against whose baroque fantasies real-life murderers seem so prosaic and unimaginative—who likes to dress prostitutes up as nuns and violate them horribly before delivering the coup de grâce. This brings NYPD detective Noah Jordain into Morgan’s orbit, looking for advice. Fortunately for the newly single Morgan, he’s not at all bad-looking and seems like a normal guy. But things start to go haywire when one of Morgan’s clients, Cleo Thane, goes missing. Cleo is an expensive call girl who services the city’s mighty and powerful; thing is, she also wants to publish a tell-all biography: she’s used pseudonyms, but her privacy-demanding clients are still rather easy to identify, meaning that there’s a virtual laundry list of men with the desire and means to off Cleo. And, wouldn’t you know it, it’s not long before Morgan is dressing like a call girl in order to get close to some of the suspects. Rose treats this doubling device (the therapist and prostitute being shown as two different sides of the same “I’ll-listen-to-your-problems-and-try-and-give-relief-for-money” kind of work) as though it were brand-new, when in fact it’s almost as tired as the one where a killer tells an obsessive cop, “You’re just like me.” Although the characters are interesting enough, if stock, and the end result is at least moderately entertaining, Rose has a tendency to run on . . . and on. A good third of her story is just spinning wheels.

Far from prurient but also far from thrilling, like a femme and somewhat toned-down Jonathan Kellerman entry.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2004

ISBN: 0-7783-2080-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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