‘A Deadly Influence’ by Mike Omer – set aside at 12%

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. 


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