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The Halo Effect (Mira) Paperback – July 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The mutilated body of a prostitute in a nun's habit, her pubic hair shaved into a cross, appears on page one of this suspense thriller, making it plain that Rose's latest (after Sheet Music) is not for the squeamish. The novel is the first in a new series featuring the Butterfield Institute, a Manhattan sex therapy clinic employing psychiatrist Dr. Morgan Snow. One of Morgan's patients, the clever and selective call girl Cleo Thane, has written a memoir full of thinly disguised portraits of her clients, powerful men with odd fantasies and fetishes. She leaves this potentially explosive manuscript with Dr. Snow and then misses several appointments, causing Morgan to suspect foul play. Yet NYPD Det. Noah Jordain and his team, diligently pursuing leads in what's become a gory, ritualistic series of prostitute murders, have no evidence that Cleo, whose clientele puts her in a class by herself, might be a victim. Noah and Morgan are drawn to each other, but when Morgan can't persuade Noah to devote more effort to the search for Cleo, she determines to go undercover and meet Cleo's principal clients herself. Ill-equipped for this masquerade, Morgan is soon in over her head and in peril. The mystery takes second place to the catalogue of sexual eccentricities, but Cleo is an engaging guide to the world of dysfunction Rose painstakingly constructs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"...Poignant and riveting... This is for sure one blockbuster you don't want to miss." -- Rendezvous Reviews
"Believable and hair-raising. THE HALO EFFECT will have you on the edge of your seat from page one" -- Katherine Neville, New York Times bestselling author of The Eight
"Characters so real we hear them breathing in our ear... a plot that can only be described as a knockout." -- Caroline Leavitt, author of Girls in Trouble
"I dare you to read the first five pages and not be in its thrall...a compulsive artful page-turner." -- Doug Clegg, author of The Hour Before Dark
"Interesting.. thrilling... like a femme... Jonathan Kellerman." -- Kirkus Reviews
"M.J. Rose is great!" -- Janet Evanovich - NYTimes Bestselling Author
"M.J. Rose is great." -- New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich
"MJ Rose writes fearlessly about sex. This is a true erotic thriller. The end will take your breath away." -- Lisa Tucker, author of Shout Down the Moon
"THE HALO EFFECT will keep you spellbound and guessing from the first page to the last." -- Stan Pottinger - NYT Bestselling Author of The Lazt Nazi & The Fourth Procedure
"The Halo Effect is tense, engrossing, and sometimes so real it's frightening." -- Linda Richards, editor of January Magazine
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Sold as an "erotic psychological thriller", this book delivers on all three of these themes. The "erotic" portions are excerpts from Cleo's book, describing the fetishes of some of her clients. For those who read erotic literature and are expecting detailed, explicit sex scenes, they are not present here. They are written in a manner that will certainly arouse and make the reader sit up and take notice, but these are not graphic. That also includes the scene when Dr. Snow and the investigator in the case, Noah Jordain, end the sexual and emotional tension of their budding relationship. As with the book scenes, this is not graphic but arousing.
The "psychological" aspect is well written as Ms. Rose delves deeply into the minds of the main characters of the book - Cleo, Noah and Dr. Snow. The first two characters, while they have issues, seem to be grounded and working on these, while Dr. Snow has a LOT of issues - questioning her profession at times, a newly divorced woman with a 12 year old daughter, still living with the memory of her mother's death, and her daughter wanting to pursue an acting career that her grandmother did and led to her early demise (at least in the mind of Dr. Snow). Because there are so many issues with the main character of Dr. Snow, in whose POV the story is told, I believe that all of these issues were a distraction from the main story - mainly what happened to Cleo and was she going to be found before it was too late?
The only one of Dr. Snow's multiple issues that I felt was central to the story made this a great "thriller" - that she felt she might be getting too close to this particular patient. So much so that she launched her own investigation by posing as a client for Cleo's escort service and talking to selected clients of Cleo for more information to determine if they would give clues to the whereabouts of Cleo or worse, if they would do harm to her. This went on while the police were not active in the case, save for investigator Noah Jordain, whose conversations with Dr. Snow led to a budding relationship between them.
Overall, I thought this was a good thriller/mystery. It was the type that could be figured out who did it early. Those are fine as long as the story is engaging in coming to that point, and this one is. While I believe that Dr. Snow's character was overanalyzed, much like the good doctor did herself repeatedly through the story, this tale is interesting enough to make the reader curious so that he or she would read the next saga of the series.
3 and ½ of 5 stars.
At the same time street prostitutes are showing up murdered in nun ' s habits and worse. Are the two related?
in the world of thrillers it's easy to trod on well established ground...psycho serial killer, psychologist helping the cops to make a profile to stop the brutal killings...this has some elements of that..but with a twist..Dr. Morgan Snow is a therapist..a sex therapist at the Butterfield Institute..she spends her professional life helping people deal with their sexual issues no matter how mundane or exotic..she's heard it all..she hasn't seen it all but she's heard it all...as the book progresses she'll end up seeing more than she's likely willing to remember..
A series of religious themed murders happen in Manhattan..prostitutes...one of which happens to be a patient of Dr. Snow. When one of Morgan's more troubled clients (who happens to be a worker in and owner of a high priced brothel in the city) goes missing it can't be mere coincidence..or can it? The fact that said patient was getting ready to release a tell all book about some of her most powerful clients, Dr. Snow gets quite worried..is it the boyfriend? The fiance? One of the men mentioned in the book? Dr. Morgan bites off more than she can chew when she decides to do some sleuthing in Manhattan's sex industry to try to find out what really happened to her missing patient..
brothels..sex..prostitutes...almost sounds so...lurid..so..trashy doesn't it? Well it isn't!...I'm not a Puritan by ANY stretch of the imagination..but harlequins and erotica are very much not my bag...in fact some of my favorite series have denigrated into sex scene after sex scene to the point where there's little story and I've all but washed my hands of them..I don't mind a little sauce in my books, but I don't want that to be the soul plot point...
Being that the protagonist is a sex therapist, sex and sexuality permeates the book..but maybe not the way you'd think. In many ways it's delved into on an emotional level..and it's used as a good backdrop that SERVES the story but doesn't BECOME the story...Is there a relationship aspect? Yes..are there some steamy passages? Yes, but MJ Rains seems to know how to balance that in just enough so as to not overpower the story..if the book turned into scene after scene of marathon Olympian sex acts I would have just written the book off..but it wasn't like that at all..
I liked the character of Morgan Snow..she's strong, she's professional and has a great deal of empathy for her clients...but she's not without her issues as becomes more and more obvious as the book progresses..she's not some tough as nails 'girl power!!!' Mary Sue that gets everything done quickly and easily...she doesn't judge anybody..women or men..Physician heal thyself as the saying goes and she's just as human as anybody else...
the supporting cast is really good as well..Mitch the ex husband, Dolcie, the precious 12 year old daughter, Nina the owner of the institute, fellow Doctor and mother figure, Detective Noah, the New Orleans implant....
Very well written and engaging story..read it in a day..when the character's back story is nearly as interesting as the overall plot, well I didn't want to put it down because I had to see what breaks were made in the case as well as how Dr. Snow was going to handle the next challenge, both outside and within..
Looking forward to starting the second book in the series tomorrow!