Prison Blues by Anna Salter
Pocket Books, January, 2002
When a former friend gets caught having sex with a prisoner, psychologist Michael Stone gets drafted to take over her group. Michael (although she has a man's name, Michael is definitely female) is eight months pregnant and has issues of her own, but she agrees to take the job partly to learn why her normally conservative friend could have made such a horrible mistake.
What she finds in the psychology group surprises and frightens her. Her friend insists that one of the inmates is innocent but Michael knows exactly the kind of manipulating disorder Jim Walker represents. The group isn't functioning right but that is the least of Michael's problems. She suspects that the group may also be involved in something more serious than corrupting the morals of a psychologist. Despite her pregnancy and the strongly urged advice of her baby's father, Michael decides she has to investigate.
Author Anna Salter obviously knows psychology and the mindset of deviant personalities. Even better, she combines this knowlege with a powerful story-telling sense to deliver a powerful and thrilling story. The more Michael investigates, the more loose ends turn up, and the farther into danger she falls. Salter weaves in multiple inter-related subplots involving the warden's family, a serial sex offender who the warden vows to protect from prison violence, and Michael's own issues with the loss of independence that a permanent relationship with a man and another with her baby have to represent.
Highly enjoyable--I couldn't put it down.
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