New Tricks

There is certainly no dearth of thrillers out there for the crime-hungry reader. Aside from romance, I can't think of a fictional genre that has more books dedicated to it. With so many options out there, separating the wheat from the chaff can be challenging. I've lost count of the disappointing thrillers I've read, but I remain ever optimistic about the genre as a whole. I know there are some hidden gems out there, and am always looking for them.

Happily, one such thriller landed in my lap recently. The Hand That Feeds You is a 2015 book from authors Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment, writing together as A.J. Rich. I'm unsure why they're fusing like Crystal Gems instead of just each using their own names, but whatever.

The books centers on Morgan, a woman who is working on a thesis all about the psychology of women who have been victimized. She returns home one day to find her fiancee Bennett mauled to death, and she can't understand why the dogs who have been so gentle up until now have turned on him. That's not the only mystery, however. As she sets about informing his next of kin, Morgan begins to realize that she didn't know much about the man she pledged to marry.

As she digs deeper, she starts to attract trouble from an unknown source that is desperate to keep all of Bennett's secrets buried. Suddenly, she finds herself in mortal danger, and not from killer dogs, but from an emphatically human quarter.

There's a lot to like about this book. Morgan, though confused and vulnerable, is never a simpering idiot that way that a lot of protagonists are in these types of stories. She's introspective and dogged in equal measure. That's not to say there aren't a couple of wobbly plot points, from an unnecessary romantic subplot to some contrivances in the conclusion.

Still, the most important thing when it comes to thrillers is making the reader want to keep turning pages, and this books definitely succeeds at that. Plus, it's got dogs!

The Hand That Feeds You: B


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