|Publisher:||Evil Eye Concepts, Incorporated|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.82(d)|
About the Author
M.J. Rose is the international bestselling author of eleven novels, including The Reincarnationist, The Memorist, and The Hypnotist. She is a founding member and board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Halo Effect
By M.J. Rose
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe first thing she saw were the woman's feet, so white they looked like the marble feet on the statue of the Virgin Mary who wears the gold halo and stands in the Catholic church where she attends mass every morning before coming to work at the high-rise hotel on Sixth Avenue. The church where she attended Sunday mass only four hours before. Except these feet oozed black-red blood.
Celia Rodriguez stared, not yet comprehending.
The Virgin's feet do not bleed, though. Christ's feet do. Holes through to the soles, spilling blood.
For the love of God.
No. No love here. Blood. Nighttime pools of congealed blood.
These are still only fragments of thought as her mind raced to keep up with her eyes. She could not make sense of this scene. Not yet.
The mosaic of horror seemed to take forever to fall into place, but in reality, from the time the maid walked into the room to the time she finally opened her mouth to attempt - and fail - at a scream, only one minute passed.
Holy Mother of God.
In random order Celia Rodriguez registered that there were fifty-dollar bills, no longer green but soaked dark brown, dozens of them, surrounding the woman's head. Like a halo. And what she had first thought was a blanket was a voluminous black dress pushedup to show shapely naked legs. No, revealing more. Pushed up farther to reveal a chestnut patch of hair between the legs. Too bare. More naked than naked.
The fifty-year-old housekeeper and mother of three stared, sure that what she saw was a vision of some kind.
The woman's pubis had been shaved in a particular shape. She knew this shape. But before she could focus on that, she saw that there was blood oozing from there, too. Celia's eyes shifted from right to left, taking in that the woman's hands were outstretched in a T position and lying in yet more viscous blood.
Celia could not believe what she saw. None of it. Especially not the shape the hair had been shaved into. She knew this shape. It was engraved on her own heart. It hung around her own neck in gold.
It was a cross.
With that, everything finally slipped into place: the plentiful and flowing dress was a nun's habit.
The Spanish woman who opened the door only seconds before fell to her knees and touched the corner of the robe. Her hand came away, stained with bright crimson. She was mesmerized by this horror that made her think of a shrine in the back of her church. Our Lady of Sorrows.
Her eyes returned to the shape carved out of the wiry hair. Why did she have to keep looking there? At that cross. At that blasphemy.
And then she saw more. There was more?
Dripping from the woman's nether mouth was not just blood, but something that was alive, moving, almost crawling. No, it was a rosary that was dripping blood, drop by drop from bead to bead. The blood had washed over the oval medal of the Virgin and had painted the Christ figure. What had flowed off of him had soaked into the carpet. And still it came. And still it came. Christ's blood. This poor woman's blood.
The housekeeper opened her mouth and tried to scream but no sound came. She called for her God, and even if he heard her, no one else did.
It would be nearly half an hour before she could make any noise. Then hotel security came, followed ten minutes later by three uniformed policemen. But it would take an hour for Detective Noah Jordain of the Special Victims Unit to get the phone call while he was sitting in a steamy and crowded restaurant in Chinatown, finishing up a spicy bowl of hot and sour soup and about to start in on a platter of crabs in black bean sauce.
Twenty-four hours later, Jordain learned that the woman who had been brutally murdered was not a woman of God at all, not married to Jesus Christ or pledged to charity or good works, but rather a call girl who had one prior and had just finished up her last stint in prison four months before.
"At least she had a head start at getting into heaven in that outfit," Jordain said after leaving the autopsy room, while he and his partner, Mark Perez, examined the nun's habit the woman was wearing.
"Noah, if you say prayers, you'd better start praying," Perez suggested.
"To help her get in?"
"No, that this isn't the beginning of something."
Jordain nodded. He'd already been there, thought that. A murder like this, ritualistic and designed, was not just an act of passion. It was, in all likelihood, the calling card of a sociopath on a mission.
Statistically, things would get far worse before they got any better.
"Good girls don't kiss and tell." She stroked the cushion she had put in her lap and the movement of her fingers was mesmerizing.
"Does that mean you're not a good girl? Or that you aren't going to tell your story?" I asked.
Cleo Thane laughed. A child's laugh that was all delight with only an innocent hint of sensuality. "I'm good, but not a good girl."
To look at her shining blond hair, the flawless skin, the light makeup that highlighted rather than hid, to take in the classic diamond stud earrings and the watch - subtle platinum, not gold - the designer blazer and slacks, the chic shoes and the status bag, you might guess she was an executive at a cosmetic company or the president of an agency or an art gallery.
But the night before this lovely woman had been whispering lies into the ear of a television newscaster whose name you would recognize, while she brought him to a violent orgasm in the back of a stretch limousine, with only a thin layer of glass separating them and their hot breaths from the driver. And before she met him, she'd charged his credit card two thousand dollars for the privilege of spending three hours with her.
The contrast of who she was and how she presented herself was just one of the many things I was intrigued by.
"Dr. Snow, no matter what kind of gentle words I wrap it up in ... I sell sex. That's what I do for a living. How could I be a good girl?" She kicked off one of her very high-heeled shoes and noticed my glance. Even though I'd looked at her shoes before, she'd never paid attention until today. I made a mental note of that.
"In my line of work, you always wear stilettos."
"Because they are so sexy?"
"Because they are weapons."
That was the last thing I had expected her to say. I certainly knew how dangerous prostitution was for street hookers, but the way Cleo had described her extremely exclusive business, the need for weapons hadn't occurred to me. I covered my surprise. "Other than your shoes, you make a real effort to look like a good girl, don't you?"
Excerpted from The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A serial killer appears to be targetting prostitutes, dressing them in nun's habits and placing a rosary somewhere in their discarded bodies. Each victim bears evidence of a Catholic ritual. When Cleo Thane, patient of Dr Morgan Snow, fails to turn up for 2 therapy sessions, Dr Snow is worried she may be another victim despite the lack of evidence pointing in this direction. But Cleo is a high priced prostitute iwho has written a memoir. Could one of her clients have found out about her manuscript and is building a screen for himself by killing the other prostitutes before he kills her to prevent the book being published?In the process of helping the police profile the serial killer, Dr Snow decides to look into the disappearance of Cleo herself with the help of Cleo's business partner, but is she putting herself in danger from a man who believes in what he's doing and who is a consummate actor?
*******SPOILER ALERT***** I bumped the rating up to 3.5 from 3 because the ending of "The Halo Effect" was quite suspenseful. Otherwise, I felt the novel was okay, but the pacing was slow, particulary in the first half of the book. I had trouble settling into the novel and even 25% of the way in, the various POV and 1st person voices chopped up the narrative for me. This should have been a riveting tale of an amateur sleuth who is a sex therapist, going undercover as a high-class prostitute to solve the disappearance of one of her clients, a well-known madam. There is introspection, psychoanalysis, family drama and a sexy romance, in addition to a horrendous string of serial murders. But for me, except for the fast-paced ending, "The Halo Effect" fell short of its promise. I especially found the protagonist, Dr. Morgan Snow, to be unlikeable and unbelievable. She is written with a very passive voice, perhaps echoing her icy professional demeanour. My emotional attachment to her was zero. She is unprofessionally obsessed with her missing client, Cleo Thane, and engages in a romance with the lead detective. (Nice romance, but crosses the ethics line). The author's writing grated on me with too much dialogue, too little action (save the ending), too many olfactory descriptions, references to acting & butterflies and too many bad judgments and decisions by Dr. Snow. The entire novel felt contrived to move the plot along. It's a fair read, but I'm not motivated to search out the other titles in this series.
Dr.Morgan Snow's work was delicate. As a sex therapist she has seen pretty much everything, but one patient stood out from the crowd. Cleo Thane, despite being a prostitute, managed to be as regal as her name, somehow retaining a purity that belied being a high priced call girl. Now, she wants to write a tell all book, but knowing it could prove dangerous; she asks Morgan to read it. Shortly thereafter, Cleo vanishes, and the book is perhaps the best clue Detective Noah Jordan has to find her before she becomes the latest victim of a serial killer with a twisted vision. Yet, turning it over violates certain rules, so Dr. Snow chooses to investigate for herself; but doing so makes her risk sharing her patient's fate. ........................ **** Intensely cold as the doctor's name, this book grips you by the throat. Although necessarily sensual, the writing is not overly lewd, given the subject matter. ****
NYPD Special Units Victim Detective Noah Jordan and his partner Mark Perez worry that a sociopath has surfaced following the mutilated corpse of a victim wearing a nun¿s habit. The dead woman had her pubic hairs shaved into a cross. By the next day, they know that the deceased was a prostitute............................. Psychiatrist Dr. Morgan Snow of the Manhattan sex therapy clinic Butterfield Institute fears for her patient, call girl Cleo Thane who has missed several appointments, something she never did. Morgan files a missing person¿s report. She conjectures whether a memoir filled with the sexual proclivities of the powerful that her patient left with her has something to do with the disappearance. Noah sees no link between the elite level that Cleo worked and the homicides of the streetwalkers he investigates. Morgan begins her own inquiries when she realizes that Noah will not. Going undercover, she quickly knows she is in danger with only Noah to keep her safe........................ THE HALO EFFECT is the first in a series of novels starring Morgan and the Butterfield Institute; if this is example of the tales fans will have plenty to look forward to in the future. The story line deftly consolidates a police procedural with an amateur sleuth with the interconnections being the serial killing of prostitutes and the attraction between the two stars. Interestingly Morgan¿s subplot is more intriguing as she adds a sexual psychological insight to her inquiries while Noah¿s line is well written, but is typical of a police serial killer chase. Readers of crime thrilling romantic suspense will know that have a bouquet of Roses with this fine novel and its subsequent stories...................... Harriet Klausner
The Halo Effect by M. J. Rose Dr. Morgan Snow is a sex therapist and donates her time once a week to women at the prison. She also sees private patients. one who is writing a sex book and she now has a copy. Her boyfriend thinks something bad will happen to her once the book is published and the dr. has watched her leave one day and there is a man that follows her. Because the detective called her she rushed down the morgue to identify the woman who was now dead-one of the women who got out of prison and was to head back home to WV. Her divorce came through also after being married 15 years. Dr. Nina Butterfield is the owner and friend of hers. Her daughter, Dolcie is 12 and studying the summer at drama school. Detective Noah Jordain from the special victim unit is on the case of the woman murdered at the hotel. They have a serial killer on their hands, same MO. Morgan remembers her mother and her lifestyle with pain and anguish. From this point Chloe goes missing and more murders are committed. Things get a bit too mysterious/thriller/horror for me, this would make a great SUV for TV.