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by M.J. Rose

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7783-2080-4
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

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.