Review | In Session, M.J. Rose


It all began when thriller writers Lee Child and Barry Eisler were chatting online about their characters, Jack Reacher and John Rain, taking each other on. Fellow thriller writer M.J. Rose suggested that her character, sex therapist Dr. Morgan Snow, psychoanalyze these tough men. Rose also got Steve Berry and his Cotton Malone on board, and the result is In Session. It’s a novelty e-book and audiobook rather than a full-fledged novel, and it is priced as such ($1.99 international price for the Kindle edition). The book is also for a good cause — all the proceeds of the audiobook and part of the proceeds of the e-book will be donated to David Baldacci’s Wish You Well Foundation, which supports family literacy. The stories aren’t thrillers, but fans of these characters may be interested in seeing their hidden, vulnerable side.

Full disclosure: I’ve never read any of these authors, though Lee Child and Steve Berry at least have been on my list of thriller authors to try. So for me, Rose’s stories provided a bit of an introduction to these characters. I love finding out in the Acknowledgements how involved these authors were in writing these stories; even if Rose wrote the stories, I’m at least assured that the characters are somehow still true to the originals.

I enjoyed the Cotton Malone story mostly because his partner, Cassiopeia Vitt, seems like such an intriguing character. What Malone reveals about his childhood also makes me want to find out more about him. Big bonus: Malone owns a rare book shop. That’s my kind of hero! Berry edited Malone’s dialogue and provided details of the rare book shop. I liked both, so I’m definitely checking out this series.

The John Rain story is my favourite. The introduction that brings Snow and Rain together is all right, but their conversation in the park is stellar — nuanced and realistic. Turns out Eisler co-wrote that scene with Rose on Google Docs in real-time, which helps explain why the dialogue flowed so naturally.

The Jack Reacher scene was my least favourite, and probably the most disappointing because Reacher was the one I most wanted to find out about. It was mostly a story within a story, which made Snow’s presence seem superfluous. Perhaps it’s because I also don’t know what Reacher does exactly that I spent the first few pages wondering why he was coming to Snow’s rescue. Did he just happen to be passing by, does he work in the area, or is he an Emergency Response specialist? Clearly, anyone familiar with Reacher wouldn’t have these questions, but it just felt more forced than the other two.

Snow herself was just okay, though in fairness she wasn’t the focus of any of the vignettes. Still, even though we see glimpses of her personal life, she just didn’t strike me enough to make me want to rush out and read more about her. Personal preference, and perhaps I just need to see her in a thriller setting to really get a feel for her character.

Overall, In Session is an inexpensive e-book and audiobook for a good cause, worth reading to get a peek into some of the contemporary thriller genre’s most well-known characters.

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