Things We Do in The Dark – a scary title that means more than we think. Hillier has written a novel with as many secrets as dead bodies.
Things We Do in The Dark is and is not what this book is about. Well, mostly it is, but not always in the scary way the title would have you believe. It certainly is about murder, but there are as many secrets as there are dead bodies, and just like dead bodies in any good mystery, the secrets, too, are ultimately uncovered. This is the first Jennifer Hillier novel I’ve read, and although murder thrillers are not my genre of choice, I’ve a feeling Things We Do in The Dark will not be the last of her books I’ll read.
The first thing that moved me beyond the body of the dead husband floating in bloodied water in a bathtub was the fact that is wife, with a straight razor in her hand, was presented in such a strangely empathetic way, that even before she was handcuffed and led off to a police car I believed she did not kill her husband. Then again, while sitting in the police car, the wife worries that her secret-filled past may betray her. And by the time the author’s omniscient voice introduces the young wife’s abusive mother, the much older and very rich dead husband’s ex-girlfriend, his personal manager of many years, a drug gang, a reluctant attorney, and any number of other facts, I was convinced that the younger wife might very well have committed the murder. On the other hand, maybe it wasn’t murder; it might have been suicide. After all, the husband was a coming-out-of-retirement comedian who had a history of depression.
Hillier makes her readers work pretty darned hard to hang onto one possible killer before changing horses midstream. The novel begins in a wealthy section of Seattle, but the clue cache is in Canada where most of the story takes place. For those of you Canadian readers, the familiarity of Toronto settings should draw you deeper into the story. While the accused widow, Paris, is released to her home with an electric tagger on her ankle, the widow’s Canadian past is exposed to the reader. The past includes a horribly abusive mother who, herself, has been convicted of murdering her much older lover; a sympathetic social worker of the abused daughter named Joelle; a journalist friend of the daughter; a story of murder by arson; a question of who really died in the fire; and a look-alike young Filipino woman whose identity will be investigated by the journalist friend of the daughter many years after the fire.
Enough! I haven’t mentioned, sexual abuse, strip clubs, and really awful relatives who take Joelle in for the money they get from the state. Who the heck are all these characters? Even the strip club bouncer is important – actually, he is critical. What does the Canada story have to do with the Seattle story? All I can say is that Things We Do in The Dark got me hooked from page one. I now understand the meaning of a psychological thriller. How Hillier begins and ends the story is still head-shakingly satisfying. If this genre is to your reading liking, then don’t miss it. It comes out next month, July; order now and miss the rush. – Sunny Solomon
Also available by Jennifer Hillier: Little Secrets; Jar of Hearts; Wonderland; The Butcher; Freak; Creep.
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