'Things We Do in the Dark' by Jennifer Hillier
This is my first book by this author but it absolutely won't be my last. A few readers in a mystery/suspense group I'm in mentioned it with breathless anticipation when it first came out, so naturally I was curious. Jennifer Hillier has a pretty serious following. Still, I tried not to get too excited since this genre can be hit or miss for me, especially if the villain/hero line is too sharply drawn, making it painfully obvious who the "bad guy" is supposed to be.
In 'Things We Do in the Dark', there were lots of bad deeds, but the characters were so well-drawn that almost everyone had some redeeming quality. Again, I'll admit I went into this one due to the hype. But it definitely lived up to it. Excellent character development and a serious mastery of how to handle different timelines (past and present) while independently maintaining a propulsive pace in each. Another element that sometimes lets me down in some suspense novels is the almost cartoonishly unlikely plot lines, developed to cause shock and awe but short on realism either because the motivation and actions of the characters aren't convincing, or the crime itself too convoluted to believe. Not the case here. I was pretty easily convinced that the protagonist's actions were warranted by her circumstances, and the antagonist's behavior was consistent with all we knew about them. The end was satisfying and unexpected, and if I had any criticism of it at all, it would be that it could read as almost too satisfying. But that's too petty a quarrel to have with a book that, on the whole, left me feeling fully engaged throughout.
A great read. Recommended. This is upmarket mystery/suspense at its best.
Also, I have to say, I really appreciated that the heroine is Filipina, a key secondary character is Black, and the author had this diversity as diversity should (IMO) be introduced: matter-of-factly and without any particular fanfare. It's a world I'd like to live in.
Audiobook note: Thank you, NetGalley for the audiobook. The narrator was excellent.
My rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑