Authors: M. J. Rose
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Thrillers, #Psychological
|The Halo Effect|
|Butterfield Institute |
|M. J. Rose|
|Tags:||Fiction, Mystery & Detective, General, Thrillers, Psychological|
Dr. Morgan Snow is a well-known sex therapist who is treating Cleo Thane, a beautiful business owner...and prostitute. Cleo caters to the wealthy and powerful and after delivering a tell-all manuscript to Dr. Snow, she disappears. A serial killer is murdering street hookers and using the book, Morgan desperately searches for clues to stop the killer before Cleo becomes his next victim.
### From Publishers Weekly
The mutilated body of a prostitute in a nun's habit, her pubic hair shaved into a cross, appears on page one of this suspense thriller, making it plain that Rose's latest (after *Sheet Music*) is not for the squeamish. The novel is the first in a new series featuring the Butterfield Institute, a Manhattan sex therapy clinic employing psychiatrist Dr. Morgan Snow. One of Morgan's patients, the clever and selective call girl Cleo Thane, has written a memoir full of thinly disguised portraits of her clients, powerful men with odd fantasies and fetishes. She leaves this potentially explosive manuscript with Dr. Snow and then misses several appointments, causing Morgan to suspect foul play. Yet NYPD Det. Noah Jordain and his team, diligently pursuing leads in what's become a gory, ritualistic series of prostitute murders, have no evidence that Cleo, whose clientele puts her in a class by herself, might be a victim. Noah and Morgan are drawn to each other, but when Morgan can't persuade Noah to devote more effort to the search for Cleo, she determines to go undercover and meet Cleo's principal clients herself. Ill-equipped for this masquerade, Morgan is soon in over her head and in peril. The mystery takes second place to the catalogue of sexual eccentricities, but Cleo is an engaging guide to the world of dysfunction Rose painstakingly constructs.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"M.J. Rose is great." -- *New York Times bestselling author Janet Evanovich*
"Potentially explosive . . . [Dr. Morgan Snow] is an engaging guide to the world of dysfunction that Rose painstakingly constructs." (Publishers Weekly" -- *z*
“M. J. Rose is great.”
New York Times
bestselling author Janet Evanovich
“Potentially explosive… Rose’s latest is not for the squeamish… [Dr. Morgan Snow] is an engaging guide to the world of dysfunction that Rose painstakingly constructs.”
“Rose writes fearlessly about sex. This is a true erotic thriller. The end will take your breath away.”
—Lisa Tucker, author of
Shout Down the Moon
“Rose has written a steamy and sexy novel that keeps the adrenaline running until the very end. Sex, romance, and murder are artfully combined to produce a page-turning novel that shouldn’t be missed.”
New Mystery Reader
The Halo Effect
is tense, engrossing and sometimes so real it’s frightening.”
—Linda L. Richards, author of
“Interesting…thrilling…like a femme…Jonathan Kellerman.”
“Dr. Morgan Snow is a refreshingly vulnerable character whose spunky decision to go undercover in the demimonde is both believable and hairraising.
The Halo Effect
will have you on the edge of your seat from page one.”
New York Times
bestselling author of
Also by M. J. ROSE
HOW TO PUBLISH AND PROMOTE ONLINE
(with Angela Adair-Hoy)
BUZZ YOUR BOOK (with Douglas Clegg)
Watch for the next novel in the Butterfield Institute series
THE DELILAH COMPLEX
Available from MIRA Books in January 2006
M. J. ROSE
THE HALO EFFECT
Copyright © 2005 by Melisse Shapiro.
All characters in this book have no existence outside the imagination of the author and have no relation whatsoever to anyone bearing the same name or names. They are not even distantly inspired by any individual known or unknown to the author, and all incidents are pure invention.
First published in the US by Mira Books.
For Mara Nathan
—1. The circle of light with which the head is surrounded in representations of Christ and the saints; a nimbus.
2. The ideal glory with which a person or thing is invested when viewed under the influence of feeling or sentiment.
3. A more or less circular bright or dark area formed in various photographic processes.
., the favorable bias in interviews, intelligence tests and the like generated by an atmosphere of approbation. A common error in rating intelligence tests is known as the “halo effect.” If an individual creates a favorable impression by his excellence in one trait, you are apt to rate him near the top in every trait.
And the day came when the risk to remain
tight in the bud was more painful
than the risk it took to blossom.
he first thing she saw were the woman’s feet, so white they looked like the marble feet on the statue of the Virgin Mary with the gold halo that 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. Pools of congealed nighttime blood.
These were 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 pushed up 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 arms 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 Hispanic 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 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-andsour 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 a 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 psychopath on a mission.
Statistically, things would get far worse before they got any better.
ood 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 director of 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.