Jar of Hearts
By Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Minotaur Books
This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .
When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.
But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.
To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.
For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.
While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.
How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?
First drawn in by the lush cover, I was completely sold upon finishing the synopsis. It turns out I was instantly drawn to Jar of Hearts for many good reasons. Craving a story full of delicious twists and turns, I have to admit that Hillier delivered and exceeded on all my expectations.
As this is a mystery (a dark and beautifully twisted one), I will refrain from divulging too many details in terms of actual plot but I do want to attempt to sum it up briefly. This is a classic case of whodunnit with very unexpected results. We are introduced to Georgina Shaw (Geo) a successful executive in her fiancee’s pharmaceutical company 14 years after the disappearance of her teenage friend Angela Wong. When Angela’s remains are discovered in the woods very close to Geo’s childhood home and her past boyfriend Calvin James, who was later convicted of several other murders, becomes the primary suspect, she soon finds herself at the center of the investigation. When she decides to open up about what really happened all of those years ago she is sent to prison. But now new victims are beginning to surface, pointing to bigger secrets. The story is far from over.
If it sounds like a lot, that’s because Jar of Hearts has a lot going on in the best of ways!
“…but the guilt is still there, stinking like an invisible piece of rotting garbage underneath your bed that won’t go away no matter how many attempts you make to clean it. Because that smell – of rotting flesh, of rotting soul – is you.”
What I appreciated..
- Jar of Hearts is one of those rare, gripping page-turners that hooks you within mere pages making it impossible to put down. Many will find this to be a one sit read.
- Hillier’s writing is smart, crisp and incredibly raw lending a tremendous amount of credibility to story and characters that rewards the reader with a gripping and fully atmospheric experience.
- This is a complex, multifaceted plot that relies on revelations, continually delivering the unexpected while feeding us just enough to encourage further exploration.
- The protagonist Geo is beautifully flawed. Her struggles and emotions transfer to page with great ease creating an emotional connection with the reader that is viable and strong.
- An unforeseeable and explosive ending left me begging for more. I can honestly admit that Hillier took me by complete surprise and I loved it!
“…years had passed, and it seemed like maybe the past would be buried. A bad pun, but fitting nonetheless.”
Challenges some may encounter..
- This is a very graphic read. Please be warned that there are multiple triggers including violence, rape, and more. I am trying to refrain from divulging details but please feel free to contact or message me with any questions or concerns before starting this one.
- The ending while successfully surprising did feel slightly rushed, however, I still walked away ready to read more from this author.
Jar of Hearts is the sort of read that defines my expectations for the mystery and thriller genre and then easily exceeds them. Hillier offers readers a rewarding experience that draws them in from the first page and refuses to let go until the very gripping end. Be prepared to sit on the edge of your seat and hold your breath.
*I would like to thank Minotaur & Netgalley for this advanced copy. The quotes included above are from the advanced copy and subject to change. This review is my own, unbiased and honest opinion.
I recommend a nice herbal blend or chamomile to help settle the nerves while reading this dark, twisted thriller.
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