Review of THE HALO EFFECT by M. J. Rose (see her website)
A BUTTERFIELD INSTITUTE NOVEL
MIRA, July 2004
Psychologist and sex therapist Morgan Snow's favorite client is wealthy prostitute Cleo Thane who has recently sold a tell-all book. When Cleo vanishes and a serial killer begins dressing prostitutes as nuns and ritually murdering them, Morgan decides to investigate. Of course, she can't tell the police about the confidences Cleo shared with her in therapy, but she can use what she learned, what she knows about people, and what she discovers in Cleo's manuscript to help her.
Morgan goes undercover at the club which serves as a front for Cleo's prostitution ring. Pretending to be a temporary replacement for the missing Cleo, Morgan meets with Cleo's regular clients--the ones written up in her book and with the most to lose if their secrets are revealed. Could one of these wealthy and powerful men be behind the murders? Meanwhile, Morgan struggles with her own issues--a recently ended marriage, a daughter who seeks to follow Morgan's mother's career in acting--a career that destroyed her mother, and a too-sexy police officer who just might be using his attractiveness to get at secrets that Morgan must protect.
I could imagine the editors reading this book proposal and getting excited. Sex worker, check. Has to go undercover as a prostitute, check. Weird serial killer, check. Strong writing ability, check. It's all here, but for me, at least, it doesn't hang together as well as I had hoped. I had several problems with this book. First, the mystery is too obvious. That's not always bad because it can increase the suspense when the reader knows the killer and the protagonist doesnt, but in this case, it made Morgan seem stupid. Second, author M. J. Rose held back on the eroticism. Rather than combining the best of eroticism and suspense, THE HALO EFFECT comes a bit short on both counts.
M. J. Rose can string words together and create characters and a story. I'll look forward to getting my hands on more books by her. For me, though, this one fell a bit short of my hopes.
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