(Blurb from Goodreads for A Deadly Influence) Lieutenant Abby Mullen is no stranger to crisis. As the hostage negotiation instructor for the NYPD, she deals with worst-case scenarios every day. Nothing fazes her anymore.
That all changes when she gets a call from Eden Fletcher, a fellow survivor of the infamous Wilcox cult. The two haven’t spoken since the night of a tragic, fiery massacre, when their paths diverged. But now Eden needs Abby’s help: someone has kidnapped her son and is demanding a $5 million ransom. As Abby throws herself into the case, she can’t help but wonder why the kidnapper has targeted Eden. But Eden refuses to talk. She’s silent about the relics of their shared past hanging on her walls. About the kidnapper’s possible motives. About what’s happened in the years since she and Abby parted ways.
As the truth closes in, Abby realizes that her past may not be as far behind as she thought…and it’s come home to collect.
A Deadly Influence by Mike Omer has been on my TBR pile for a while, I bought it back in March 2021. Like many of you (probably), I’ve got a huge pile of books that I haven’t gotten round to. So I’ve started picking some of the older ones to give them an airing, I was pretty pleased with this choice.
Abby Mullen is a Hostage Negotiator with the NYPD who has a horrendous past which remains secret. This however could be uncovered when she receives a frantic call from Eden Fletcher, whose son Nathan has been kidnapped. Eden and Abby were two of three survivors of the Wilcox cult mass suicide, the third is Isaac who keeps in contact by messenger. Abby is the first person Eden considers to help.
As Abby starts investigating the kidnapping, she understands that Eden is a single mother of two children: Nathan and Gabrielle. As she delves deeper, she learns that the children’s father is a member of another cult run by Otis Tillman. Eden and the children used to live in this community but managed to get out several years ago. Does Tillman’s community or Nathan’s father have something to do with the abduction?
This is certainly no run-of-the-mill kidnapping plot. The abductor has reproduced Nathan’s bedroom in their hideout exactly, they also haven’t demanded any ransom. Yet.
So, what of the story? It’s a pretty good police procedural, flowing at a nice pace throughout. Although I did think that Abby’s role as a hostage negotiator wouldn’t have made her the first choice to lead the investigation.
I think the backstory for Abby and Eden also gives an unusual twist to the standard types of abduction scenarios. So too does Gabrielle’s role as an influencer on Instagram, we’re pretty sure the abductors have been following her account. It all added to the interest.
The author has certainly done his research into the topics, there’s a lot of detail here.
Abby and Eden provide interesting characters who have taken different paths in life after surviving the mass suicide, although there are surprising similarities. Both are divorced mothers of two, and each has a boy and a girl. The big difference is that Abby has moved on from their time in the cult to make a successful career while Eden doesn’t seem to have moved on at all. I was surprised that someone who had been a member of a cult was able to be lulled into another community so easily.
“They didn’t recruit me. They invited me for a weekend there, to meet the rest of the community. And when I got there, people were so nice. And they Liked me. They really liked me. I felt like I belonged.”
It was called a love bomb, a strategy cults used in recruitment.
Overall, I liked A Deadly influence. It was a nice twist on a standard police procedural and I’ll be looking to buy the next in the series.