The Kill Club

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Feb 2020

Member Reviews

The Kill Club is an enthralling update to Strangers on a Train where a network of people are killing despicable people for each other. 

Someone has poisoned six people on the streets of greater Los Angeles. The police working the case know that it is the work of a serial killer because in each case, a playing card is left at the scene of the crime. In the meantime, Jazz is worried about her younger brother Joaquin. His foster mother, Carol, has taken him out of his middle school with the intent to home school him. Jazz, who used to live with them both, believes that Carol has probably been swayed by her ultra-religious church to stop giving him his medicine. Joaquin is a Type 1 diabetic and could go into a coma or die without his insulin. But the Department of Children and Family Services won’t listen to Jazz. Jazz has a criminal record for fighting and has already been thrown out of Carol’s home. What can Jazz do?

The main characters of Jazz, Joaquin, and Carol are well-done and seem very genuine. The detectives are also well-written. When Jazz gets the proposal to “solve her problem permanently”, I felt that I would have taken that solution regardless of the personal cost. It is hard for the reader not to feel empathy for the situation that Jazz has found herself both before and after the “offer”. The Kill Club is a fast-paced and twisty ride that doesn’t let up until its thrilling conclusion. Highly recommended to all thriller fans! 5 stars!

Thanks to MIRA, Harlequin and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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There is no one in this world Jazz loves and adores more than her little brother Joaquin. So much so, in fact, that she’s willing to toe the line, walk on eggshells around her former foster mother (and Joaquin’s adoptive mother). Carol’s a religious zealot who wholeheartedly believes that 1) Jazz is doomed to eternal damnation because she’s attracted to females and 2) Joaquin’s diabetes can be controlled – even cured – if they just have enough faith.

Because the siblings have spent years sneaking insulin through barred and boarded-up windows, the few child services visits that managed to happen never found cause to remove Joaquin. Jazz might have been beaten black and blue, but Joaquin seemed to be cared for in their eyes and there was nothing Jazz could do about it. Joaquin might desperately want to live with his sister, but with her past, her record, meager paycheck, and closet-sized apartment, there was little hope of Jazz ever gaining custody.

Until the day she received a phone call offering an end to her problems with Carol. An underground group of people willing to assist those in similar situations. All Jazz has to do is assist someone else. Meanwhile the police are on the hunt for a serial killer who’s been leaving a trail of seemingly random bodies around Los Angeles.

The Kill Club is a ride. Don’t go into this one expecting to chip away at it a few chapters at a time. Between the pace and the short chapters, before I knew it I was halfway through the book! This is an action-packed read that barrels forward at a rapid-fire pace and it was all I could do to keep up. I normally finish novels in a single sitting on the weekends when I literally have an entire day to devote to lazing about. But I read this during the week. When I needed to be up extra early the next morning for work. And still I managed to inhale the entire book in one go.

In an ongoing effort to protect Joaquin, Jazz ends up meeting the assistant principal at his school. In commiserating over Joaquin’s situation, Jazz and Sofia become close. Close enough to where Jazz begins to develop feelings for the woman. Close enough to learn Sofia is harboring her own pain: her ex used his wealth to ensure he won custody of their little girl. The deeper Jazz gets involved in the kill club, the sooner she gets to her own ending – until she’s assigned her target. Sofia’s ex-husband.

The action doesn’t slow for one moment. If Jazz isn’t following her target she trying to stay alive after she herself becomes an assignment. All the while Carol retains a hold over Joaquin.

There are a few twists and reveals within The Kill Club‘s pages that add an additional layer of urgency and drama to the story. While I feel the ending wasn’t nearly as intense as the rest of the novel, I was still right there the entire time and truly could not put this book down. I suffered for it the following morning but I have no regrets. If you’re looking for an incredibly engaging, thought-provoking, fast-paced read, look no further.
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I’m happy to have found a new thriller author! I was hooked so early on in The Kill Club. The concept is very interesting – could you kill a stranger in order to save someone you loved? I really enjoyed the way that the novel exploded the concept and how it didn’t just look at Jazz, but others in the same situation.

I love it how Jazz wasn’t your typical character. She was super gutsy, but most of the time she doesn’t have luck on her side. There was also lots of other great secondary characters that don’t fit the typical thriller mold.

I did enjoy the ending, but at times it felt like there was too much going on in a short amount of time. I wish that it didn’t feel so fast and rushed. I wanted more time to explore what had happened.

4 calculators out of a potential 5. Going to check out the author’s previous novels!

Thank you to Netgallery and HARLEQUIN – MIRA (U.S. and Canada) for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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Jazz is determined to remove her brother, Joaquin, from their foster mother's home. Carol refuses to make sure Joaquin gets his much needed insulin. Plus, Carol is abusive in more ways than one. Jazz has had enough! When she receives an untraceable phone with an untraceable text message, Jazz takes a huge risk.

My heart went out to Jazz throughout this whole story. She is one tough lady just struggling through life. She gets kicked around but keeps getting up and fighting back. Then, when the Kill Club contacts her, she struggles with what is the right thing to do. I admired her in more ways than one. Not sure how I would have responded in her situation.

Talk about intense! This story just gets better and better as it moves along. Then...there are these crazy twists and turns which throws the reader for a loop! Just when I thought I knew how this story was going to turn did a complete 180 degree turn! This is a lightening fast read and not to be missed!

I received this novel from the publisher for a honest review.
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I'd read a description of The Kill Club by Wendy Heard before the publisher offered  me the opportunity to join the blog tour for this highly immersive crime thriller.  I'm not someone who enjoys books that are terrifying.  Yet an organization devoted to providing justice for victims of abuse is right up my alley even though a journey down that alley could haunt my nights.  Was I ready for this?  I wasn't entirely certain when I downloaded my review copy from Net Galley.                           

All doubts vanished when I was introduced to the protagonist, Jasmine Benavides.  I'd read that Wendy Heard is the co-host of  a podcast called Unlikeable Female Characters. If the author intended Jasmine to be such a character, I have to say that she failed completely.  I absolutely loved Jasmine from the start--long before I really got to know her.  I had to discover more about this brave survivor of abuse who will not rest until her thirteen year old brother is also freed from the domination of their nightmarish foster mother, Carol Coleman.

Some might say that I'm perpetrating a spoiler when I reveal that Jasmine is a lesbian.  Other reviewers have already outed Jasmine, and I feel that mentioning her sexuality is helping the book reach its audience--the readers who need to see bold lesbian action heroes in their thrillers.

 Jasmine is also very human.  She makes mistakes.  A few of them have had terrible consequences, and she doesn't forgive herself  for them. Admittedly, Jasmine has an overly active conscience.  So she also blames herself for  disasters that weren't her fault.  Yes, Jasmine is an angst queen.   I actually admire angsty characters.  Protagonists who take responsibility for their actions are far more worthy of respect than those who self-righteously refuse to accept that they've ever harmed anyone.  People in the second category are usually villains.  Carol Coleman would be an example of that type of individual.

There were surprising twists in The Kill Club, but there were also a few that I found predictable.  Even though I sometimes knew what was going to happen next, I was still totally involved in the plot.   I was so invested in Jasmine as a character that I felt that I had become part of her world.  I would find myself thinking about where the narrative was headed when I was doing other things. This doesn't happen to me very often.

I did have one problem.  I felt that a police detective was portrayed  in a pivotal scene as being less competent with a gun than I would expect of an experienced officer.  That character's credibility as a detective was compromised. This wasn't a minor glitch, and it's the reason why I can't give The Kill Club five stars on Goodreads.

Despite the above criticism, the suspense was first rate and the characterization of Jasmine as a powerful yet vulnerable protagonist is what really makes The Kill Club by Wendy Heard well worth reading.
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Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Author: Wendy Heard

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 4/5

Diversity: Main is interested in girls and has a relationship with a girl. Different ethnicities also represented.

Publication Date: December 17, 2019

Genre: Thriller

Recommended Age: 18+ (sexual acts, violence, alcohol and drugs, abuse TW)

Publisher: Mira Books

Pages: 368

Amazon Link

Synopsis: Jazz will stop at nothing to save her brother.

Their foster mother, Carol, has always been fanatical, but with Jazz grown up and out of the house, Carol takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.

Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone offering a solution. There are others like her—people the law has failed. They’ve formed an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing to eliminate the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings. If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of Carol for good.

All she has to do is kill a stranger.

Review: For the most part this was a pretty good book. The plot was interesting and I enjoyed reading the twist and turns. The book was also surprisingly emotional and the characters were well developed.

However, I do think that the voices weren’t distinct enough for me and the POV switches were confusing to me. I did have an arc of this book and it was on a kindle, so sometimes I don’t get things that the final book will have, so hopefully there will be page indicators of when the POV switches. I also didn’t like how they cast DFACS (which I’ve worked with before and does amazing with the funding they get in most states) and homeschooling in a bad light. Also, to do homeschooling in my experience and knowledge, you have to generally have a bachelor’s degree, take a teacher preparation program which includes education and fieldwork, and pass a few tests to get your certificate. To not be certified you generally have to have at least a high school diploma or GED. If you have a state that doesn’t require a HSD or GED to teach, then you’ll have to submit a declaration of intent by September 1 or whatever the first day of school is, teach required subjects, write an annual progress report, and be subject to random screenings and visits depending on the state. I don’t require a book to know all of this, but it’s not as simple as just picking a child up from school one day and never returning with them again lol.

Verdict: A great mystery/action/thriller book.
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A chilling, gripping and well written thriller that kept me on the edge till the end.
I loved the well crafted plot, the fleshed out cast of characters and the chilling atmosphere.
It was an engrossing and entertaining read, recommended.
Many thanks to MIRA and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Favorite character: Joaquin Benavides Coleman
Joaquin is a 13-year-old boy to whom life handed a basketful of lemons. Instead of letting those lemons define him, he rose above them and is a paragon of all that is good. He proudly displays a Miley Cyrus poster, loves hanging out with his friends, and cannot wait to attend a STEM high school in the fall. Good-natured and kind, he also shows an enormous amount of inner strength that earned my admiration. 

What I Like About The Kill Club

The Kill Club is an excellent psychological thriller that will leave you with an unsettled feeling when it ends. There is the traditional, what-will-the-person-with-mental-health-issues-do-next. But also, that creepiness that takes hold when you realize the lengths that ordinary people (people who stand near you in a store, on public transportation, or any other general location) will go to in extreme situations. The fear of "could it happen to me" has a way of staying with you.
I loved the unexpected plot twist that is jaw-dropping and intense. I am rarely surprised by where plots go, but this story completely caught me off-guard. I love being surprised, and The Kill Club is full of surprises.
The story is about exploring moral ambiguity – more importantly, how far you would go to save the life of a loved one. Is it okay to kill someone if a loved one could die if you don’t? Not cut and dry self-defense case but situations that sit solidly in a moral gray area. For instance, is it okay for someone to steal medicine from a drug store that a loved one needs to survive if he/she can in no way afford it?
The novel demonstrates the plight of the everyman within the legal system. It’s easy to ignore the injustices that happen every day unless you are forced to confront them. The Kill Club seeks to bridge that gap and bring awareness on a much larger scale.
The characters are very well developed. The main character, Jasmine or Jazz for short, is someone you can empathize with even if you have nothing in common with her. She’s grown hard and edgy as a response to life’s challenges, but she has pure love for Joaquin, which is redemptive on many levels. I struggled right along with her when she must decide in a morally ambiguous situation.
What I Wish
I wish for more books like this one. Books that are thrilling, action-packed, jaw-dropping stories and still manage to shed light on social problems that occur across our country and need to be addressed.
To Read or Not to Read
If you love an action-packed thrill ride and can handle psychological creepiness – this is the book for you. I can’t say enough positive things about it! It’s a haunting tale that you will not be able to put down.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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Linda's Book Obsession Reviews "The Kill Club" by Wendy Heard, Dec. 2019

Wendy Heard, author of "The Kill Club" has written a chilling, captivating, intense, and intriguing novel. The Genres for this novel are Thriller, Mystery, and Suspense. The timeline for the story is in the present and goes to the past when it pertains to the characters or events. The author describes her characters as complex, and complicated. Some are evil. mean-spirited and quirky.

Jazz has been looking out for her younger diabetic brother Joaquin, who lives with his strange foster mother Carol.  Carol has embraced religion and often neglects Joaquin. Before Jazz left Carol's home, she had been abused and beaten. Child Services and Social services ignore any attempt to look out for Joaquin. Jazz has to sneak in to make sure that Joaquin gets his insulin.

Who can protect Joaquin and other innocent people from an inadequate justice system? Jess gets a call from a stranger who promises to remedy this situation, and free Joaquin from Carol, permanently. It appears that there is a network or organization of people willing to perform justice. If Jazz is willing to join this network, she has to perform a deadly favor.

The author has written the novel with twists and turns and had me at the edge of my seat. I basically did figure who was the head figure who was in charge of this group. That was until, the author provided more details, and everything changes again. There is tension, and action in this novel. I would recommend this novel for those readers who enjoy a chilling thriller.
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Would you kill a stranger to save a family member?

The Kill Club explores this concept, in which you kill a stranger for a stranger, and then the torch is passed on for someone else to kill for you. We delve deep into the moral ambiguity of right and wrong, and all the shadowy places in between.

I loved Jazz and Joaquin. Their characters have incredible depth, and I couldn’t help but empathize with their situation.

The pace is quick and steady. We go along with Jazz as she’s sucked into a situation that quickly spirals out of her control.

I was fully on board throughout the first half of the book. But then the plot began pulling at the seams of plausibility. And, finally, the big reveal, for me, was a major letdown. The mastermind’s motive is flimsy at best. I don’t want to say more on this because I don’t want to give any spoilers.

While the story is wrapped up at the end, we are left with a dangling thread for a possible sequel or series.
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I am still mulling over the events in this book after finishing a day ago. Definitely a page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat. 

The premise seemed straight forward. You have been repeatedly abused by someone. You receive an anonymous call. There is a permanent solution to your “problem” – All you have to do is kill a stranger first. But somehow it all goes wrong. Unable to trust anyone, our protagonist Jazz is hell-bent to protect Joaquin however she has to.

In the second half of the book there were just too many twists and turns, in my opinion, to maintain the integrity of the story. And while we may like to see the evil pay for their behavior surely we want to know what they did. As the bodies build up in the story we are not told why they deserved to die. That bothered me. And above all there was no real explanation for the biggest twist that came about halfway through the book. Contrived twists thrown in just because unexpected twists are all the rage now just does not work for me. There has to be a reason for the twist – it has to make sense.

The author did a great job in blurring the lines between killing that is justified and killing from anger. I often asked myself what I would do at that point of the story – and the answer sometimes scared me. 

Thank you to the publisher for providing the advance egalley. The opinions expressed are my own.
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Phew What a ride!! 

The Kill Club is addicting, gripping, and full of action! The premise of this story is unique and something that we haven't seen in the thriller genre which was so refreshing! Kuddos to you Heard! :) 

This was extremely well written and am very impressed with Heard! It takes you by the tip of your shirt and drags you to the end. Leaving you on your toes plenty my friends with characters that you don't want to miss.  Jazz is quite the character... who leaves this tale of web spinning and spinning! 

I was out of breath at the end of this !! I definitely recommend giving this one a try... you won't be bored or disappointed I tell you that :).

Thank you so much to Harlequin/Mira for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

4 stars!

Pub date: 12/17/19
Published to GR: 12/14/19
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I loved this book and was hooked by page one.  I really enjoyed getting to know Jazz and Joaquin. The  characters in the story felt very real. It was nice to find out in the author's acknowledgments that the stories of the murder club members were based on true stories which the author had collected.  The action moved along steadily throughout the book with plenty of twists which kept me guessing. I definitely will be reading more books by this author!
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This one really is a thrill ride with multiple twists and an unusual sympathetic lead character in Jazz.  Jazz wants nothing more than to insure the health, happiness and safety of her little brother Joaquin, who lives with their abusive foster mother Carol.  She's part of the margins of life- she works part time at Trader Joes, plays drums in a band (in part to hammer out her anger), and has a bad way of getting into fights. She accidentally finds herself in a pickle when she's approached by a mysterious person who offers her the chance to get rid of Carol- if she kills someone else.  Jazz is conflicted- she's trying hard to get DCFS to listen to her concerns- but murder?  A new relationship with the assistant principal at Joaquin's school is stymied and then things get nutty.  This is a genuine page turner and you will find yourself rooting for Jazz as she deals with all the stuff thrown at her.  I didn't guess the end (always a plus) and if I'd like a bit more of answer on why, well that's ok.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  I read this in a gulp- recommend for a very good read.
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A remarkably twisted and deceptively multilayered puzzle, THE KILL CLUB enraptured me on two aspects. First, the puzzle. I know the concept of "kill a stranger and another stranger will kill the one you want dead" has been done before (Strangers On A Train), but still, I was engrossed, and in fact, I still want to know more of the backstory. This mystery could have a sequel; the possibility is definitely there at its end, and I hope so. 

The second aspect enthralling me is that our protagonist (such a well-developed character) is Lesbian, so right here we have Diversity. She also is Mother Bear to her much younger brother, who is Type 1 Juvenile Diabetic plus in the control of a horrid individual (adoptive mother). I will not spoil the story with revelations--just read it!
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‘First rule of Murder Club – don’t talk about Murder Club.’

Jazz is a woman with a down and out life; thrown into the care system with her brother Joaquin and forced to stay with abusive Carol. She’s had her own brushes with the law and so when a mysterious phone call promises an end to all of her problems for a ‘simple’ favour she jumps at the chance. But when it all goes wrong who can she turn to for help? 

The Kill Club is a great premise with a tenacious and realistic main character which kept me hooked throughout. It’s refreshing to have a gritty LGBTQ+ character cast in the lead role and Jazz kept the whole book alive for me. Her sarcasm and wit gave a welcome respite to the tension that was building throughout. You really felt for her as she started to try and fight back with no resources or people on her side and it also gave author Wendy Heard a chance to show the pitfalls of the care system and the police force in an interesting, non-preachy way.

The premise of the story is one that keeps you hooked – would you kill a stranger to keep yourself or those you loved safe? However, while recounting the outline of the plot to a colleague they remarked that they had watched a film with a very similar premise before. Many other reviews have also mentioned other books that it is similar to as well, so perhaps the premise is not as original as I had first imagined.
The pace of the book is great and keeps you guessing, switching perspective now and again to keep it fresh. It’s also not afraid to pull punches and ramp up the stakes to a truly terrifying degree which is great – you read with a true sense of unease as to what will happen next!

My only criticism would be the unmasking of the mastermind behind the ‘Blackbird Club’. We never really get properly into the head of this character and I just felt that you didn’t get a proper motive which left me feeling a little unsatisfied as to why all of this had happened. A little more depth into their backstory and ideology would have made all the difference for me.

Overall The Kill Club is a gritty, action packed read with a great main character. Thank you to NetGalley & Harlequin Mira for a chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Four stars for this twisty murder for hire! 

Would you do anything to save a loved one? What about kill? The Blackbird Murder club can help you with that - as long as you kill someone yourself. They make it easy. Give you a disguise and a syringe. You just have to inject it. 

The characters in this book were great. They were all believable. There were deaths I wasn’t expecting. I couldn’t decide who was good or bad. 

This story is told mostly from Jazz’s POV, but there’s extra povs thrown in there which really gives you a unique look into all the characters thoughts and feelings. 

I’ve already recommended this book to friends. It was great and I can’t wait to read more of Wendy’s work! 

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and feelings are my own.
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I was provided with a copy of this ARC from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wow. I feel like I got sucker punched in the gut and robbed on a train. This was a crazy, unpredictable thriller of a book. It kept me guessing until the very end. 

Good people don't always get what they deserve. Sometimes they're preyed on by the garbage the legal system can't seem to deal with. But they can trust in an underground vigilante system to permanently solve the problem people in their lives. 

Jazz needs her brother's adoptive mom to make sure he gets the care he needs, and to ensure that happens she'll take whatever steps she needs to. But she gets pulled into a crazy scheme that she can't escape.
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I really really enjoyed this book. Packed full of action and with a plot that kept your guessing to the very last page. this has been one of my favourite books of 2019 so far. I especially LOVED Jazz as the central character. She’s fiercely protective, funny and quick tempered!

Most thrillers I read are written from the perspective of law enforcement and therefore it gives a full and complete overview of what is happening from a implied perspective of balance. What you have in The Kill Club though is an emotional and chaotic account of events from the Jazz’s perspective. It’s flawed – a little like Jazz herself – but fast paced and gripping.

I will say that I wasn’t completely happy with the ending. No particular reason but it just felt a little flat after such a great book. It’s the only thing stopping this being a 5* review but it certainly didn’t stop me enjoying the book and I would 100% recommend it.

Filled with desperation and hope, love and hate, The Kill Club will literally keep you turning page after page.
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Joaquin didn't get the care and love he deserved from their foster mother, Carol. He was diabetic and he wasn't giving him the insulin he needed, and it infuriated Jazz. Jazz sought help from DCFS and the police, but neither showed concern nor urgency to help. If this continues, Joaquin's life will be in danger and this definitely didn't sit well with Jazz.

Then one day, she received a call and was given an opportunity to get her life and Joaquin's back on track. She'd get to live the life she wanted with Joaquin, with one condition: that she'd kill a stranger. This call came from a flip phone she swiped from a brawl she got involved in when she was playing with her band at a pub.

She was appalled at first, I mean, who on earth would agree this! But as the caller revealed the details of the assignment, she found herself agreeing to it, to kill in order to save Joaquin, hence being part of, what she called 'the murder club', whose participants, who were victims of abuse, agreed to kill to get rid of the person who made their lives a living hell. Jazz was determined to succeed in her assignment, but things didn't go as planned, and everything spiraled out of control thereafter. 

Woah. What a thrilling ride this was! The novel was fast-paced, kept me turning the pages, and when I wasn't, I kept thinking about Jazz. What a character Jazz was. Tough, no-nonsense, smart, funny and one helluva bad-ass! She is definitely a protagonist that is different from the rest of the psychological thrillers that I have read so far, a reliable narrator for one, and not an alcoholic! Thank goodness! She is one of those friends you know you can rely on. 

And my, those curveballs and plot twists that came one after another. It was just brilliant. I was only correct on one occasion, and the rest were so darn unpredictable and they came when least expected. Very masterful.

This book also made me question, how far would one go to save a loved one? And who are we to say who's right or wrong? Carol was suffering too, she, to me, had either been misled by the people around her, or just mentally unstable. She needed help just as much as Joaquin and Jazz did. Did she really deserve to die? Was Jazz rash in accepting the assignment, thinking it was the best way to save her one and only family?

And of course, things won't go well when humans try to play God. 

Also, at the end of the book, the author noted that the victims' stories in this novel are all based on true life accounts. 

Overall, a fantastic read. Just one thing though, so Jazz did something really wrong, but apparently she got away with it? Did I miss something? 

Thank you Netgalley and Harlequin Mira for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
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