Reading M.J. Rose's novels is like having great sex with a familiar partner. Even before you begin, you know it's going to be good. During, it's a host of things: hot and comfortable, intense and soothing, reliable and fun. Afterwards, well, afterwards you are left with seemingly opposing feelings of pure satisfaction and intense want for more --- that is, in this case, more from M.J. Rose.
And so it should be no surprise that sex and seduction almost always play at least a strong supporting role in Rose's work. In her latest novel, THE HALO EFFECT, human sexuality, in all its permutations, persuasions and perversions, takes center stage. Dr. Morgan Snow, recently divorced, is a New York City sex therapist at the Butterfield Institute, where (I break no confidences in telling you) her clients range from fiends who fancy odd fetishisms to couples whose love lives have reached new levels of lackluster. Additionally, she closely works with imprisoned street hookers, trying to reform them and encourage them to do more with their lives.
But it's a high-class call girl who has most of Dr. Snow's attention and concern. Her patient, Cleo Thane --- beautiful, refined and intelligent --- has written a tell-all book about her chosen profession and the thinly disguised clientele who have kept her in expensive clothes and jewelry over the years. In their interactions (their appointments in Dr. Snow's office mostly), Rose once again shows us her strong grasp of human nature and human sexuality. As Cleo describes her "dates" you can't help but feel that Cleo, and M.J. Rose, have clearer insight into the workings of the male and female mind than most of us possess.
When Cleo fails to make one session, then another and then another, Dr. Snow treads dangerously into the working girl's world to try to find her --- and rediscovers her own feminine prowess and attraction to the opposite sex. Not to mention how much she and Cleo share in common in their different lines of work.
At the same time, the handsome Detective Noah Jordain seeks Dr. Snow's help with the Magdalene Murders --- the serial murders of prostitutes. Working parallel investigations, Dr. Snow, an unlikely hero, and Detective Jordain find more than just the murderer; they find each other.
These murders solved, Dr. Snow will be back. M.J. Rose promises a series of stories from the Butterfield Institute. No doubt, all will be equally thrilling and provocative --- just like great sex with a familiar partner.
--- Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara
M.J. Rose has made a practice of writing novels that defy easy categorization. Her latest novel, THE HALO EFFECT, will certainly appeal to fans of the suspense/thriller genre. The work, however, balances the elements that make that genre so popular with a strong erotic component, while also possessing the or