tears

In this superb psychological thriller, author Mary Ann D’Alto takes the reader inside the twisted and utterly sick mind of a physician whose sole aim is to control and bring harm to others. Through this taut, extremely well-written and well-edited story, you’ll feel the pain and suffering of his victims first-hand — almost as though you were there yourself.

Dr. Aaron Stein is a top fertility specialist at Harbor Hospital, and, as such, he always has a ready supply of women whom he can manipulate and control in every aspect. For Aaron is predatory in his practice of seeking new partners to experience The Method — Aaron’s unique way of subjugating each victim to his will.

And yet, Aaron finds himself in trouble early in this tale of torture and cruelty. When we first meet him, he is standing with the soles of his shoes half over the edge of the hospital’s roof, contemplating the unthinkable act of suicide. His split personality carries on a bizarre debate, one side of his mind urging him to jump, in penance for his misdeeds. But the other aspect of his persona — the very private one — coos words of reassurance, coaxing him back from the ledge.

His latest victim, a fellow doctor at the hospital named Luisa, lies locked in a coma, the direct result of his negligence the night before.

He can’t risk exposure as police search for the reason Luisa was at the office building where she was found, bleeding and in shock. Aaron will go to jail — again — if the authorities trace the trail to him. A brief stint in juvenile hall many years before will indict him out of hand, threatening his freedom, his exalted position at the healthcare facility, and his marriage.

It’s an almost-unheard-of situation in which Aaron finds himself. Usually, he prides himself on being the one in control of others and, ultimately, his own destiny. Indeed, up until now, his series of carefully choreographed liaisons has only served to stoke his voluminous ego, and left him free to dominate his victims — physically and mentally.

“Over time, Aaron would break his victim’s will. It was much like severing a person bit by bit; first the digits of the fingers, then the limbs, and eventually the person would be nothing more than a heap of disconnected parts, even though she still appeared whole and much the same to the world.”

Sophia, Lily, Marie, Diane, Jasmine, Marcia, Meg, Janine, Celeste, Ruth — and now Luisa. His list of conquests is long and his ability to escape consequences has made him feel invulnerable. And then, there’s his cousin Constance, who’s always been devoted to him. Could their relationship be something other than what it appears?

This extraordinary novel examines minutely the background of each well-drawn character and how they interrelate to each other — and to Aaron. He’s a monster, all right. But what does the future have in store for him?

You’ll be shocked and amazed at the culmination of this excellent work of fiction that too often mimics real life. For how often have we known — or known of — someone like Aaron?

Five stars to He Counts Their Tears, and its talented author. She has clearly poured heart and soul into this book, and we are the beneficiaries.

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