Book Review: The Halo Effect by M.J. Rose

21 Dec

Genre: Thriller

Series: Butterfield Institute #1

Publisher: MIRA

Pub date: July 2005

Source:Personal copy (won in Twitter contest)


Dr. Morgan Snow is one of the top sex therapists who practices at the Butterfield Institute. She sees a range of patients: those who were abused, couples who have lost the spark and those grappling with secret fetishes. One of her clients is Cleo Thane, a high-class prostitute, with whom Snow feels an immediate connection. Cleo has written an autobiographical book about her life and clients. Although she has disguised the identity her clients, she thinks that publishing the book could get her into trouble. Cleo asks Morgan Snow to read the book and tell her if it is a good idea to go ahead and publish it. Before Morgan can warn Cleo that this is a bad idea, Cleo disappears.

Detective Noah Jordain is on the hunt for a serial killer who is targeting prostitutes and killing them ritualistically. He comes to Dr. Snow for a consult, but Morgan has to help him without breaching patient confidentiality. Will she be able to help Jordain and save Cleo in time?


The Halo Effect is the first of the Butterfield Institute series. Morgan Snow is an easy character to like and admire. She is at a difficult point in her life – her marriage of many years has just ended and her almost teenage daughter is not being easy to handle.

When Detective Jordain comes to her asking for help on the serial killer case, she is rather torn. Cleo is one of her patients and she feels responsible for her, but talking to the Detective about Cleo or her book will mean a breach of confidence, which is all-important in her line of work.

The more Snow comes to know about the Cleo’s life, she is determined that she has to do something to help her, and save her if it’s not too late. Snow enters Cleo’s dangerous world in the hopes of finding out if any of the men she was seeing knew about the book and killed Cleo to prevent it from being published. But she might have stepped into something that is rather more dangerous.

Jordain and Snow work parallel cases which come together as they race to save Cleo and find the serial killer.

I’ve read other thrillers by M.J. Rose before and enjoyed them hugely. Somehow this one lacked quite the same excitement. I liked Morgan Snow, but had a difficult time liking or believing the rest of the characters in this story. The Halo Effect is the first book of this series, and from reading reviews online I see that the subsequent books are stronger.


Recommended for someone who likes fast thrillers. But definitely not the best I’ve read in this genre or by Rose. Snow is a sex therapist, Cleo a prostitute and there is definite sexual element in the serial killings – so it goes without saying that the story is sexually explicit and gruesome. Don’t pick it up if you’re sensitive!

Rating: 3.5*

*See my Rating policy

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