Morgan’s life seems settled – she is completing her thesis on victim psychology and newly engaged to Bennett, a man more possessive than those she has dated in the past, but also more chivalrous and passionate.
But she returns from class one day to find Bennett savagely killed, and her dogs – a Great Pyrenees, and two pit bulls she was fostering – circling the body, covered in blood. Everything she holds dear in life is taken away from her in an instant.
Devastated and traumatised, Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s death. Only then does she begin to discover layer after layer of deceit. Bennett is not the man she thought he was. And she is not the only woman now in immense danger …
The Hand That Feeds You is an unsettling psychological thriller, from writing team Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment, writing under the pseudonym of A.J. Rich. It is a suspenseful tale, that looks the savage murder of a man, that might possibly be at the hands of his dogs.
A.J. Rich is quick of the mark to set the scene in The Hand That Feeds You. Morgan, the main character of the story, is a young woman currently studying victim psychology. She returns home from university one fateful day to find her fiancé Bennett dead. The couple’s fostered dogs, two pit bulls and a great pyrenees, are both found covered in blood and guarding the body of Bennett. Morgan immediately finds her happy life ripped apart by this horrible incident. In the time that follows Bennett’s death, Morgan gathers the strength to inform Bennett’s family of his tragic death. Morgan soon discovers that Bennett’s family does not exist, as do many other parts of Bennett’s life which he divulged to Morgan. As Morgan uncovers more deceit surrounding her fiancé, she finds she has put her own life in danger the further she probes into Bennett’s life.
The Hand That Feeds You got off to a firecracker of a start. I got an immediate sense of place, danger and uneasiness from the opening of this book. A.J. Rich works well to set up the beginning of this book and managed to entice this reader into going along with Morgan’s journey. Morgan was an interesting protagonist, that was cast well by A.J. Rich. I liked the fact that attaching her to the field of victim psychology as a student, made her a naturally inquisitive character. This enabled her to persist in digging deep into Bennett’s lies, despite her heart being on the line. A.J Rich also explores this character’s conflict of emotions, as she deals with the fallout of trauma following Bennett’s death as well his duplicity. I felt a strong urge to continue reading this novel, to settle my mind on the central mystery. Once I reached the end, I felt it was sufficiently resolved. I did have an issue with the pacing in this novel, as it just didn’t seem to maintain the same level of momentum that was set up in the gripping opening of the book. Despite this, I felt it was novel that had the right ingredients for an intriguing psychological mystery but it missed the mark a little for me.
If tense psychological thrillers are what you enjoy reading, then The Hand That Feeds You is worth a look. It is definitely an interesting spin on the thriller genre, using the collaboration of two authors.