The innate ability to know how a story needs to be told is a skill that is typically honed over years, but in the case of Jennifer Hillier, this key storytelling tool seems to be part of her DNA. From the start, with the deliciously unsettling Creep (and the follow up serial killer novels), Hillier has crafted some of the strongest books in the crime fiction arena. Just look at the reviews for Jar of Hearts and Little Secrets to see how effectively her novels both surprise and entertain the reading public. This trait continues in her latest release – Things We Do In the Dark – available from Minotaur Books later this month.
Things We Do In the Dark begins like many mystery novels do – with a murder. Paris Peralta is discovered next to the body of her celebrity husband, holding the knife that appears to have killed him. When the police arrest her, Paris resigns herself to this fact, knowing that as the younger widow of a much older man with money makes her the clear and obvious culprit. The truth is, Paris is much more concerned about a secret from her past coming to light now that she is the top news story on every outlet in the world.
The narrative then makes a complete shift and readers hear the story of Drew Malcolm, a podcast journalist whose latest string of episodes will focus on the “Ice Queen” case and the recent release of Ruby Reyes, the convicted perpetrator in that high-profile trial years earlier. In the midst of recounting his history, readers hear the story of a young girl named Joey, with whom Drew had a bond until her unfortunate death in a house fire.
Throughout both of these large sections, Jennifer Hillier masterfully blends past and present. Hillier has the ability to make every flashback feel organic to the storyline – no small feat with this level of backstory to convey to readers.
That Paris and Ruby have a connection is hardly a spoiler for most crime fiction readers. The structure of Things We Do In the Dark virtually manifests the importance of their eventual confrontation. But Jennifer Hillier is not one to give readers exactly what they are expecting. How the final section of the novel unfolds is yet another example of her consummate plotting skills. Will the “twists” surprise everyone? Probably not. But the reader’s bond with the characters is enough to carry every reader forward to what is ultimately a very emotional and fulfilling conclusion.
It is worth noting that as a Filipino-Canadian author, Jennifer Hillier never shies away from packing her novels with realistic representations of our world’s diversity. It is refreshing to see a standard domestic suspense plot populated with a wider variety of character ethnicities. Things We Do In the Dark is a “dark” book, covering many topics that may be triggering for some readers in unflinching ways. Jennifer Hillier is not an author prone to exploitation or gratuitous depictions of violence, but this subject matter can be troubling even in its most benign form. However, it is necessary for the story that Jennifer Hillier wants to tell, so just proceed with caution.
Things We Do In the Dark continues an impressive run of high-quality, suspenseful fiction from an author who is not afraid to take chances. As her star continues to rise, readers continue to discover her and are more than happy to call themselves fans.
BUY LINKS: Things We Do In The Dark by Jennifer Hillier
Disclaimer: An e-galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.