“The Fifth Reflection”


“The Fifth Reflection” is the third book in Ellen Kirschman’s Dot Meyerhoff Series. It is not necessary to have read the previous books to enjoy this one. This is a “police procedure” book from a different viewpoint. Dr. Dot Meyerhoff is a psychologist and a paid consultant for the Kenilworth Police Department, a moderately sized agency located in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. The book is written in Dot’s first person narrative. She works to support police officers and their families while they struggle with the day-to-day stresses of solving crimes.

Be advised, this book deals with a complex social problem and illegal activities involving children. This not only takes a toll on the officers working on these cases, but on the reader as well. The cases do not always end the way one might want.

Dot Meyerhoff and her fiancé Frank Hollis are having a typical Thanksgiving gathering with family in Iowa. “The sky is as gray as the stubble in the fields, obliterating the horizon. Without a line to show where earth and sky meet as though I’m floating in space.”  Unfortunately, this is the last idyllic time they have because the phone rings; a friend calls; the unthinkable has happened; a child is missing; Dot and Frank rush back to California.

Frank is a photography student and Chrissy, the daughter of his teacher, is missing. Complicating the search is the underlying fear that the abduction might be part of a child pornography ring since Chrissy’s mother recently exhibited multiple photographs of unclothed young children, including Chrissy.

And then the body of a young child is found. Now it is time for Dot to do her job, but what does she say to someone whose child has been murdered? As the department goes to work, personal relationships become more and more entangled, lovers and ex-lovers, spouses and ex-spouses. Who is lying, and who is telling the truth? Stress mounts. “Nobody calls a cop or a therapist when they are having a good day.” And all are in peril. “Be careful, Dot. A person who would murder a child wouldn’t hesitate to murder you.”

I received a copy of “The Fifth Reflection” from Ellen Kirschman, Oceanview Publishing, and NetGalley in exchange for my review. I had not read previous books in this series, but background information about the characters was included as part of the ongoing narrative. There was no unneeded summarizing of the previous books. This book kept me glued to the pages. It was not an easy book to read because of the subject matter, but it was not sensational, graphic, or explicit. The crimes against children were handled in a sensitive and appropriate manner while emphasizing the toll that these crimes take on everyone involved. I will definitely add Ellen Kirschman to my “must read” list.