The Hand That Feeds You is a newly released psychological thriller from A.J. Rich. (A pseudonym and collaborative effort from authors Amy Hempel and Jill Clement.)
Morgan Prager comes home to her apartment to a horrific sight. Her fiancé Bennett is dead - seemingly killed by Morgan's three dogs. When she attempts to notify his family of his death, she can't find them - or any trace of the man she was to marry. Nothing he told was true. Morgan met Bennett through an online dating site and a questionnaire she created for her thesis on victim psychology. Could Morgan be the victim herself?
And of course, along with Morgan, the reader wants to know who Bennett was as well.
I was intrigued by the premise and Morgan's search for who Bennett really was. But I found myself reading as an observer, removed from the story and not as a engaged participant. I just couldn't connect with Morgan. I didn't overly like her, despite her being the protagonist. She alternates between being self aware to downright naive. But she remained flat for me, never generating a strong response.
The inclusion of death by dog was quite different. Dogs, dog rescue, dog temperament and dog law play a large in the plot of The Hand That Feeds You. Hempel is a founding member of two dog rescue organizations and her knowledge adds much to a distinctly different whodunit plot. I learned quite a bit, but sometimes I felt like this information and storyline detracted from the main plot. I did think that the idea of someone falsely representing themselves online was excellent - and timely.
Rich does include a lot of extraneous detail - about food/drink/prices that seem like filler, as well as other odd bits, such as a description of a 'green' funeral that really don't have anything to do with the plot at all.
The whodunit is fairly obvious, despite the choices offered, but I kept reading as I wanted to confirm my suspicions and find out the fate of the dogs. I found the ending and resolution a bit rushed in the less than two pages allotted to it.
The Hand That Feeds You was just an okay read, for me, and fell short of the publisher's description of 'smart, thrilling, sexy, and emotionally riveting.' See what you think - read an excerpt of The Hand That Feeds You.