A Deadly Influence (Abby Mullen #1), by Mike Omer

Eight stars

Launching a new series is always a bit of a risk, but Mike Omer has some stellar writing under his belt already and his stories pull the reader in from the outset. Abby Mullen is a hostage negotiator with the NYPD, as well as being a single mom. She’s adept at balancing both, but when she is approached by a woman from her past, Abby cannot help but remember a time when she was suffering a great deal of pain. A young boy has been kidnapped and a large ransom is being sought. While the family cannot afford it, there is an angle that may help raise the money. As Abby takes a gamble and looks for clues in the most unusual spots, she comes to terms with a lot from her past she never wanted to revisit. Will it help find a young boy or simply open old wounds? Omer does a bang-up job and keeps the reader hooked until the final page.

Abby Mullen has enjoyed her time with the NYPD, working as a hostage negotiator. It seems to hep hone her skills for life at home, where she is a single mom to two and dealing with a whiny ex. However, she has a secret about which few know, which has always been something she prided herself on. All that is about to come crashing down on her.

After a young boy is kidnapped off the street, his mother, Eden Fletcher, approaches Abby for help. Eden was a survivor of the Wilcox cult, as was a young Abby. Eden is less secretive about their shared past and wonders if a more recent group with which she was involved could be part of the kidnapping plot. While Abby works to dig a little deeper, the $5 million ransom sought soon can be better understood, as Eden’s other child, a teenage girl, has quite the social media following.

While Abby vows never to return to the cult life, she probes within the membership of a new ‘Christian community’ to see if anyone might have nabbed the boy to punish Eden for leaving. All this opens old wounds and keeps Abby from being able to think clearly. All that being said, there is a boy who needs his family and Abby will not rest until that happens. Omer does well with this series debut and I am eager to get my hands on the next one.

Mike Omer knows how to add an eerieness to his writing like few others, which has always left me wanting to read his books as soon as I can. This new series is a little less psychological, but just as captivating and left me wanting to know more about Abby Mullen and those around her. With a strong plot and curious backstory, I am intrigued to see where things will head with this piece as the series progresses.

Abby Mullen lays the groundwork for a fabulous series with her debut here. She has both a strong backstory and convincing development to keep the reader guessing and wanting to know more. Abby shows that she can juggle work and a home life, but it is her past that really has her tied in knots, something that inadvertently comes to the surface throughout. One can only wonder if this will be an ongoing issue as the series progresses, something that I cannot help but hope is the case. Omer closes the novel with an interesting cliffhanger related to Abby’s past and present, which is sure to make for great development in the coming stories.

While I have always come to know Mike Omer as a psychological powerhouse, he’s got some depth and varied nature to his writing. Omer makes an impact with this series debut, both from its strong narrative perspective as well as well-placed characters. He weaves them into the story effectively and keeps the reader wanting to know more. A child kidnapping works well and appears to tap into the large secret Abby wishes to keep, leaving Omer a lot of room to explore it over the next few novels. With some grittiness and just enough family connection, there is something about the debut that has me wanting to learn more in the coming months.

Kudos, Mr. Omer, for a great debut and curiously open-ended ending that will make for another great novel, when I get my hands on it.