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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 21 July 2004
It was completely delightful to find a novel that has an interesting plot, a thrilling pace and characters with depth, including a heroine that captivates. Dr. Morgan Snow has been working as a psychiatrist for The Butterfield Institute for the last five years. Morgan's clientele is varied and includes all kinds of characters. One of her patients is a call girl named Cleo, who has succeeded in developing a business by herself and leads a comfortable life.
Cleo Thane has written a book with her memoirs of her life in the trade, revealing secrets of very influential people, their fantasies and fetishes. Cleo has been able to secure a six-figure contract from a publisher, and even though she disguised the male characters with which she has had sexual encounters, the descriptions may be enough to identify them, so Cleo asks Dr. Snow to read the manuscript and give her an opinion as to whether publishing the book is a good idea or not.
M. J. Rose succeeds in her presentation of the main characters by giving them substance and a rich personal history. Morgan has recently finalized her divorce, and has a twelve-year-old daughter who wants to be an actress and takes this very seriously. Morgan has trouble dealing with her recollections of her mother who was also a child actress, and how this affected the way in which Morgan's childhood developed. The fact that the author switches back and forth between her narrative and the one done by Morgan makes the novel more interesting and also makes easier to understand the motivations and logic behind the actions of the heroine.
In "The Halo Effect", when a killer starts murdering prostitutes, the first one being a patient of Morgan, and then Cleo disappears, Morgan feels compelled to take action. The bodies have been left dressed as nuns, with their pubic hair shaved in the shape of a cross and the women have been given the sacraments before their death. Special Victims Unit detective Noah Jordain contacts Morgan seeking her help in profiling the killer. She is also contacted by Cleo's business partner and by Cleo's boyfriend, both of which want to look at the manuscript and wish to know about what was said in the psychiatric sessions. Morgan is thus placed between a rock and a hard place, if she talks, she breaches the confidence Cleo placed in her, but if she does not and Cleo is really in trouble, she is preventing her from getting help.
The only "reasonable" option is from Morgan to get involved in the investigation, even when she need to go against the advice of her godmother, protector and owner of The Butterfield Institute, Dr. Nina Butterfield. From this point forward, we are swept away into a fast paced thriller that has all the necessary elements to be a bestseller. I guarantee you will not regret picking this one up.
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VINE VOICEon 16 April 2010
The synopsis of the book is already detailed, so I won't bore you with that. I bought this book because of my curiosity about the fictional life of a sex therapist, Dr Snow? It seemed an unusual choice for a crime thriller but it managed to hold my attention, so much so, that I read it in one sitting. - It would be a great book to take on a train journey or flight as the prose it easy to read, the plot is gripping enough so that you are turning page after page to find the guilty party; yet it comes as a complete surprise at the end. Strangely erotic and quite enjoyable and titilating at the same time. I then went on to buy the Venus Fix!!The Halo Effect (MIRA) Reminds me a bit of the book "Butterfly" by Kathryn Harvey which if you have not read is a must!Butterfly
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on 31 January 2012
I didn't finish this book. The five stars are for a chapter almost half way through the book which was written so well I couldn't get it out of my head whenever I read the rest. It's a short, stark, harrowing chapter; one of the strongest pieces of writing that I have ever read. I know the outcome of the book because I read the second first (definitely recommended) and it is often referenced. For me, the book had peaked and in any case I have no desire to read another chapter like it, however well written.
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on 26 February 2008
I picked this book up from a Charity shop and what a bargain it turned out to be.
Morgan snow is the character you will enjoy reading about most in this book.
The story line keeps you intrested page after page and the author brings characters like Cleo alive in your mind.
My first fiction crime novel and it has left me wanting more....
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on 5 June 2014
I was very unsure before starting this book. The synopsis looked promising, but the tagline - Erotic Psychological Thriller? Very off-putting, as i feared a writer who would be aiming for Erotic at the expense of Thriller. I'm pleased I took a chsnce. This is not an Erotic Psychological Thriller at all. It is a Psychological Thrller which hsppens to feature prostitutes and sex therapists.

So if you are expecting, or hoping for, pornography or bodice-ripping, move along, you will be disappointed. Not a single bodice is ripped, there is actually very little reference to sex, and most of what is there, is described either sensitively or biologically. Because many of the characters work with sex in one form or another does not make the story "erotic".

What we do have is well developed and human characters, a good old fashioned serial killer nut-job, and a thriller written from a different perspective - the sex therapist / shrink of a girl who's disappearance may or may not be related to the brutal killings. Enter cliched and jaded detective who forges his own path to do the right thing, and we have an interesting variation on the proven formula.

Erotic? No, not at all. Don't make a decision to read or not read this book based on that word. Decide to read it because it is a suspenseful thriller by an author who can write properly and knows how to build a plot. And hopefully because it is the beginning of a promising series. I'll let you know after I read the next one...
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on 4 April 2012
After a good deal of thought I gave this book three stars although that may be a little ungenerous of me. The writing is very good; it was the subject matter that I found dark and disturbing. The murder scenes are described in graphic detail, overly so as far as I was concerned and in a way that I feel would keep this novel from a mainstream reading audience.

It was only after I finished the book that I found out that the author, MJ Rose, is in fact a woman. In a way I was relieved by that, as if it had been a man I would have felt that I had just been subjected to some guy's pervy eroticism.

The story is credible though at times I was frustrated by the main character's naivety. The fact that she gets to meet each of the suspects 'undercover' gave the author the ability to line up each of the suspects in turn in the reader's mind, giving a number of alternatives which I thought was a clever ploy.

There seems to be some obsession by the author with butterflies throughout the book that did not seem to have anything to do with the ongoing story, which was confusing. Perhaps if she had called it the Butterfly Institute it would have made sense, but she didn't and so it was lost on me.

Overall the plot was credible, though dark. The main character I didn't really identify with but that was just personal taste rather than the writing. The New Orleans detective who for vague reasons moved to New York to be a cop and plays piano in a jazz bar on the weekends was a little clichéd but just about OK.

I also found that the main character's heightened sense of smell, which is described in detail and throughout the plot annoying as it went on. What was that all about? In fact the only time she doesn't seem to smell anything, or at least it's not described, was when she opened a bottle of wine and seemed to savour the taste. Which is bizarre when that is the time that most of us would expect a desciption of aroma or bouquet? She could also turn off this super developed sense, by popping a mint in her mouth. How does that work?

Ok so rant over. To summarise, the book is well written but dark and almost obsessive in nature. It is graphic, bloody and tries to be erotic, but maybe comes over a little too pornographically to carry that off.

As a murder mystery, it works but I fear is too close to the dark side to appeal to many who read that genre.
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on 1 May 2012
I'm a sucker for psychological thrillers, especially when they are well thought out and have an intricate plot. "The Halo Effect" did not disappoint. This is the story of Dr. Morgan Snow, a sex therapist who finds herself pulled into the investigation of a serial killer and the disappearance of one of her clients. The plot lines surrounding both of these facets of the story were entertaining and had just enough twists to create intrigue while remaining realistic.

I did suspect who the killer was early on in the story, but there was still enough mystery and uncertainty that I couldn't be 100% sure until the end. The sensual aspect of the plot, plus a sexual rediscovery of sorts for the main character, add a heat factor that gives this novel an edge over your standard crime novel. Add in the amazing detail and scene description that flows throughout the book, and this could easily be a candidate for a movie along the lines of "Basic Instinct".
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on 31 March 2012
When i started this book i was a bit unsure at it seemed a bit slow but it didnt take long to have me gripped!

I found the main charcters within this book were very likeable, they seemed to be fairly realistic and have a deep sense of personality within some of them. The story has a very good story line that consists of suspence, drama and emotional challenges.

I would reccommend this book to people who like suspence/ thriller novels.

Well worth reading.
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on 30 June 2012
Well-written & nicely paced crime thriller. Some of the descriptions of the murder victims are a bit graphic, though thankfully despite the main character being a sex therapist, there's nothing too depraved sexually.... well apart from the killer obviously! The plot is fairly straight-forward with no unexpected twists, and it seems rather obvious how it's going to end, but it's still intriguing enough to hold your interest.
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on 28 March 2012
I found this book to be emotionally compelling and found myself feeling all manner of deep emotions as I read it, even though I figured out who the bad guy was relatively early on. Not usually a fan of descriptive books, MJ Rose expertly employs the use of detailed description to further the story and / or the action which never left me impatient or wanting to skip bits to get to the action. One of the best books I have read in a long time. I even cried a bit!
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