The Ninth Session
by Deborah Serani
TouchPoint Press

"I jolted forward, took out the panic alarm, and held my thumb on the button, ready to send the signal. I entered the waiting room but saw no one."

A psychologist dealing with her own deep issues takes on a new patient who will tax her reserves of personal courage and professional strategy. In Luke Ferro’s first session he yields to panic, and Reese talks him back from his fears. As he gradually reveals his harrowing inner truths, Reese, still grieving the loss of her spouse, begins to imagine that Ferro (or someone) is stalking her. Ferro then shares an ugly secret: he killed a man who is still listed as a missing person. Ferro knows where he is because he strangled then buried him. Hearing this, Reese turns to her own therapist, who warns her that she is highly vulnerable and that allowing Ferro to elude the law may not be in anyone’s best interests, despite the therapist’s oath of confidentiality. Ferro’s effect meanwhile is getting scarier, and suddenly Reese realizes it's time to overcome her reluctance and take action before someone else gets hurt.

Award-winning author Serani, a professor and psychologist with many years in practice, raises and (through her characters) debates certain troubling questions that such professionals may face. What are the obligations of the counselor when the patient discloses criminal, even murderous feelings, intentions, and actions? She has deliberately posited a counselor confronting her own insecurities, and a patient who is unusually devious while seeming to be open and willing to be healed. Serani’s composition is well ordered, constructing a terrifying scenario with a cinematic aura in slow, agonizing steps as seen through the eyes of a fragile but determined woman. The dialogue that develops between Ferro and Reese in their therapeutic encounters is credible, with her mistrust and his viciousness building with each session. The Ninth Session is sure to satisfy mystery lovers, especially those who like a view into the scarred mind and memory of a psychopathic personality.

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