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A Deadly Influence (2021)

por Mike Omer

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624335,467 (3.6)5
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A Deadly Influence by Mike Omer
Abby Mullen Thriller #1

Cults are creepy things, and this book has people that seem to have cults woven into their very beings. Some seem to have been able to leave the cult behind but others…not so much. Often, cults scare the bejeebers out of me because, in my opinion, they are scary controlling and never lead to anything good for those that join them. This book will probably continue to deal with cults as the series progresses but it is my hope that it will also deal with other issues a police negotiator has to contend with.

What I liked:
* Abby Mullen: police hostage negotiator, mother, divorced, adopted, cult survivor, good work partner, dealing with issues from her past, human, interesting and intriguing.
* Will Vereen: Abby’s partner at work, married, supportive, good listener, will enjoy learning more about him.
* Sam & Ben: Abby’s children, complete opposites, care for one another, typical, add texture to the story, look forward to getting to know them better.
* Steve: Abby’s ex is not the most admirable husband but seems to be a good father. He adds dimension.
* Detective Jonathan Carver: police academy classmate of Abby, divorced, from a large family, good at his job, potential love interest for Abby, interested in seeing what trajectory his character will take in the series.
* Abby’s adoptive parents: good people that worked together to ground and love Abby. I can see them featuring in future books of the series.
* The cult-stalker-kidnapping-police procedural plot and how it was presented and eventually resolved. The plot forwarded the relationships of the past and helped tell of Abby’s past.
* Learning a bit more about social media influencers…kind of on the fence about them.
* Ben’s menagerie…remember my brother coming home with a snake and it disappearing…made me wonder if the snake was released into the wild or killed by my parents…don’t think they were as accepting/tolerant as Abby was of Ben’s collection.
* That I wasn’t sure who the stalker-kidnapper was till near the end…good job of hiding it even though I often read the end before I get there.
* Wondering who the “Isaac” is that has been in touch with Abby.
* Reading a new-to-me author that I hope to read again. I felt he had done in-depth research on cults and it showed through in the story.
* Getting to the end and having the bad guys, at least most of them, dealt with and the hope that one or more cult member will rearrange their brain(s) to be free of the cult indoctrination.

What I didn’t like:
* Thinking about how real this story could actually be…stalker, kidnapper, cults, and all the rest.
* Having to say goodbye to the cast of characters until the next book in the series is ready to read.

Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Would I read more in the series? Yes

Thank you to NetGallley and Thomas & Mercer for the ARC – This is my honest review.

4-5 Stars ( )
  CathyGeha | May 19, 2021 |

I picked up 'A Deadly Influence' for free from Amazon Firsts. All I knew about it was what it said on the publisher's summary which pitched it as a police procedural / psychological thriller about a kidnapping of a child of a cult survivor and as the first of a new series featuring NYPD negotiator Abby Mullen. I looked up Mike Omar and saw that he'd already published seven books in two other series and thought I'd give it a try.

It turned out that this isn't my sort of thing. I put it aside after the first ten chapters (about 12%)

The writing was sparse and functional. It told me everything I needed to know to understand the situation and the player but it felt stylised. It reminded me of the set of standard facial expressions American soap actors seem trained to use and which we're meant to recognise and respond to but not necessarily believe in.

This kind of prose pushes characters towards stereotypes - in this case, the main character, Abby Mullen, is an NYPD negotiator with a tragic past, she's a cult survivor, with a broken family, compulsive behaviour and a need to save people. Fine as far as it goes but still more of a premise than a person.

That left only the plot to keep my interest. That seems to be heading towards bringing the NYPD negotiator face to face with a well-organised psycho male abducting a child, the younger brother of a teen girl who he has become obsessed with via her Instagram account. There's also some foreshadowing that the whole thing is linked to the cult that Abbey survived.

I didn't get much further than the setup. There were some solid scenes that would make good TV but nothing that really engaged me with the people, On the other hand, the creepy guy doing the kidnapping, another twisted white loner narcissist, is disturbing not because he's vividly drawn but because these kinds of men have become so normalised in fiction and in real life that they no longer need to be explained. We take them for granted.

I don't want another one of those guys in my head, even if good triumphs in the end, so I've set the book aside.
  MikeFinnFiction | Apr 27, 2021 |
“Sometimes your children’s nightmares were your own shameful fantasies.”

That thought is from a mom upon hearing about her 8 year old’s nightmare about his pet tarantula dying! The mom is Abby Mullen, a hostage negotiation instructor for the NYPD and the main character of this book. She is also a survivor, one of only three, of “the infamous Wilcox cult”. Those worlds collide when one of the fellow survivors from her childhood cult has her own child kidnapped, with a whole new cult suspected! It's a race against time to save the boy, and maybe Abby herself!

This is a hard book to put down! Really entertaining and well written! This is the sixth book I've read by this author, and I've gotta say - I'm a fan! I hope that there are at least two more books in this series, and if so, I'm going to read them all! Especially with the way this book ends! Put in my order for Abby Mullen Thrillers #2 right now! ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Apr 22, 2021 |
I do not know if I've read any other books by this author. The suspense did build to the point where I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened and who did it, but there were parts where I felt like the plot dragged too.

Abby Mullen is a negotiator with an interest in cults. Perhaps not too surprising since she was raised in a cult during her early years. She's contacted by another cult survivor when that survivor's son is kidnapped. Thus starts the story of trying to figure out who took the boy and get him back.

There is a bit of a twist at the end which I haven't decided yet if it will be a long story arc spanning several books or if it is just the set up for the next book in the series. ( )
  JenniferRobb | Mar 14, 2021 |
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