|Martha C. Lawrence: Aquarius Descending|
Martin's Minotaur (Paperback),
Lawrence researched cults and their tactics well, and she seamlessly integrates that research into her story. The charming but businesslike Chase identifies common cult "recruitment" tactics such as sleep deprivation, tedious work, and inadequate portions of low-protein food. At the same time, cult recruiters never leave Chase alone and constantly question her while providing no opportunity for Chase to ask her own questions. When Chase realizes that her dreams have stopped -- a crisis for a psychic -- Chase must decide whether the $25,000 retainer and the threat to Jen warrants staying on a case that defeated two previous investigators.
In addition to well-drawn characters, Lawrence relies on slow but steady pacing, with artful plot twists reinvigorating a constant sense of menace that never overwhelms, but never vanishes either. No one's blood pressure will rise while reading this book. Yet the book takes a series of unexpected turns at the end, including a real shocker. Through it all Elizabeth Chase proves a winning heroine, and readers who take the time to get to know her will be richly rewarded.
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