Cover Image: Hello, Transcriber

Hello, Transcriber

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A woman intent on writing a novel becomes wrapped up in a murder investigation. Hannah is a police transcriber who wants out of her town Black Harbor, and is ready to write her way out. When her neighbor confesses to hide an overdose victim in a nearby dumpster, and the death is linked to the Candy Man (not writing that 5 times), a drug dealer, she is involved in the investigation and thinks it would make a great book, and interested in the lead detective Nikolai. How far will she go to get out of town?

With a dark, moody tone, the chilling atmosphere of this story will grab readers by the throat and not let go until the final page.
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Special thanks to St. Martin's Press /Minotaur Books for the ARC of this book.

I liked this book pretty much as soon as I started reading it. Hazel is a complex character. Her life is pretty stale. She's married to Tommy and pretty much has the same dull, depressing life, day in, day out. Her husband hunts and they live off what he hunts, share meals together, and then he hunts more, dull. Their house is filled with stuffed wildlife and it sounds pretty depressing.

But Hazel has a sister who is a social influencer who gets her a job as a transcriber, which is perfect for her because she loves the English language and her job is exciting because she's transcribing for The Black Harbor Police Department in Wyoming, the most crime-ridden town in the state. Immediately loving her job, she starts focusing on one of the investigators reports she's transcribing solely for his use of his language and correct punctuation.

Author Hannah Morrissey is great at making you feel like you're in Hayek's shoes in this eerie town and I really loved that I got a feel for Hazel and the town's description.. Hazel soon becomes involved with this investigator and trying to figure out who the sinister Candy Man is that he's investigating.. This book was a page turner for me and I'd recommend it to everyone. Well done (clapping). 

I will be sure to be on the  look out for more of Morrissey's books!
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I thoroughly enjoyed this haunting and quietly masterful book. I related so much to Hazel, the main character, and the backdrop of a dying and desperate American city was uncanny and eerie. I really liked the behind the scenes aspect of her police transcriber job, and the devastation of drugs and the loss of industry on a small town in America was just so well done! Excellent book, definitely worth a read.
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I really enjoyed this fresh perspective on a crime novel - from the perspective of a small town transcriber, uncovering secrets on the night shift while she listens to and types out reports from on-duty officers.  There weren't a lot of twists and turns but the characters were sufficiently complicated and the story moved along and at acceptable pace.
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Black Harbor is a crime riddled city that people run away from, not to. Hazel Greenlee has moved there with her husband Tommy, because he found a job there. He hunts for their food and seems overly fond of the guns he keeps around the house. Hazel has aspirations to be an author. She finds a job as a transcriber for the local police force, giving her fodder for the book she is writing.

Hazel is an amazing typist, and doesn’t mind working the night shift. When a young boy is killed during her shift, things change drastically for her. She might know who the killer is, but cannot tell anyone. The detective in charge, Nikolai Kole, sends his report to Hazel. With his voice talking in her ear, she transcribes the events, fearing her involvement by withholding evidence, yet intrigued by the sound of Kole’s voice.

Strangely enough, Kole visits her during the long night. This is the beginning of something between them that is more than inappropriate. Hazel fears her attraction will be discovered by her husband. She also fears the repercussions for not sharing her suspicions about the killer with Kole.

This deliciously dark suspense novel is full of twists and turns. The characters are fully developed and most of them have their own agenda that will stop at nothing to attain their goals.

Hello, Transcriber is Hannah Morrissey’s debut novel. Her previous job as a police transcriber and being the wife of a police officer, brings first-hand knowledge to creating her characters. I highly recommend this fast-paced suspense novel. I cannot wait to see what she writes in the future.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2021 Laura Hartman
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⋆⋆⋆½ (rounded to four)

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read this ARC!

Content Warning: death (including that of a child), violence, suicide, murder, sexual assault, domestic abuse, parental neglect/abandonment, drugs, overdose, rape, animal death, brief mentions of homophobia and transphobia.

Living in the crime-ridden Black Harbor, Hazel Greenlee makes her living by transcribing police reports. Though her dream is to be a novelist, she hasn't had much lived experience, and she secretly hopes that perhaps this job will provide some much-needed inspiration. What she doesn't expect, however, is to be smack in the middle of a murder investigation -- living beside one of the men involved in hiding a corpse. As she becomes more deeply involved in the case, as well as with the lead investigator, Nikolai Kole, she begins to wonder if the future she imagines living outside of Black Harbor will be cut short by violence. 
My main motivator for reading this book was Hazel's job: a police transcriber. Not only did that seem like it would have plenty of potential for an intriguing storyline, but as someone who also enjoys writing (and has since childhood), I felt that I could relate to Hazel's desire to try and find a job that not only somewhat incorporates that passion, but also which might provide her with some material for her own work (though I'm not sure that's strictly a good idea, considering her job is supposed to be confidential!). 

The first few pages didn't quite captivate me. I found Morrissey's writing to be slightly overwrought; there were very detailed descriptions of the daily-goings on in Hazel's life, almost to the point of taking away from the narrative. It's one of my biggest pet peeves, so while some may not find it a problem, it took me a while to find myself fully immersed in the story. Once I hit around the 25% mark, however, I found myself becoming more invested in the story playing out. Eventually, the writing didn't bother me quite so much, and I did find myself admiring Morrissey's ability to weave rather evocative scenes.

I went into this expecting the mystery to be the main plotline, but I think that it actually ended up being more focused on Hazel's inner turmoil -- her marital problems, her aspirations, her self-loathing and occasional penchant for cruelty -- as well as her relationship with the charismatic Nikolai Kole. I didn't mind this, as their relationship fascinated me with its layers of deceit and its intertwining with the mystery, but I think that some might be disappointed by the mystery taking the backburner.

By the halfway point I was eager to see how Hazel's life would continue on its (rather disastrous) journey, but I'm sad to say that the ending left me cold. There wasn't much buildup, and it felt almost an afterthought, and slightly inconsequential. Mentally, I said to myself simply, "Oh." So...that was it. I enjoyed the story as I read it, but for me, it was an interesting concept where the execution unfortunately fell flat. 

That being said -- I will be looking into Morrissey's future novels, as I think there's great potential here, and I could see myself reading something else by her!
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I found this to be an enjoyable read, keeping me on my toes throughout.  The storyline was written well and flowed seamlessly. I look forward to reading more by this author!
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Fans of true crime, nosey people, or those who enjoy a book where the main character becomes obsessed will enjoy this book. Hazel Greenlee gets to go what a lot of people see as a dream job. She gets to listen in on all the interviews and file notes for ongoing investigations as she transcribes reports. Quickly, a bit too quickly in my solo issue with the storyline, she becomes enamored with one of the detectives who is investigating a case that hits closer to home than anyone but Hazel knows. I struggled with never really getting to know Hazel and her backstory before getting plunged into what was going on now and it left me feeling a bit unmoored, but the story was solid and offered a few twists to keep me reading.
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Aspiring writer Hazel follows her ecologist husband to Black Harbor, Wis. Black Harbor is a small town with big city crime. Hazel gets a job as the night transcriptionist for the Black Harbor Police Department where she becomes privy to everything go on in the seedy city. While transcribing reports, she is instantly drawn to one investigator's voice, recently suspended but now returned Nikolai Kole. Hazel has an unhappy home life with her unpleasant husband and their neighbors. Day in and day out, Hazel is finding herself drawn to Nik and the case he's working on -- a case involving several people dead from overdoses with Oxy provided by the "Candyman." Who is the Candyman? Will Hazel and Nik get caught in his web?

I quite enjoyed this story -- it was definitely unputdownable! I found myself rooting for Hazel and Nik, and found Elle's backstory very intriguing -- I wish the writer had explored it more. The writing was very atmospheric, and as a Wisconsinite, she described the winter loneliness of it very well. I find myself still having questions about some things. Maybe a sequel is in the works? Overall, a great, intoxicating read about the reality of some small towns.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC.
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The Story: Hazel Greenlee works as a police transcriber for Black Harbour Police Department. She enjoys her night shifts and her new job is going great until her neighbour told her about the hidden body of an overdose victim in a dumpster. As Hazel becomes entangled in this case, she also finds herself infatuated with the lead investigator Nikolai Kole. 

My thoughts: What caught my attention about this story is the transcriber profession. I have not read anything like that before so it was really interesting!  Although it was a bit awkward to read every comma and period in the transcriptions, I did get used to it. 

Hazel is a very complex character and she will grow on you. She is a confident person in many ways yet she is vulnerable when it comes to relationships. She is unhappy in her marriage and finds comfort in her work. I find her infatuation with Nikolai endearing and frustrating at the same time.

I am not sure how I feel about the plot. It was pretty straightforward and there wasn't a lot of twists. It lacked the depth I was looking for. But I did enjoy the writing. It was atmospheric and descriptive. There is just something about the writing I find soothing and melancholy, and for this I am looking forward to reading the next book by this author! 

Pub Date: Nov 30th, 2021

***Thank you St. Martin's Press for this gifted review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.***
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This book is a mood. By mood I mean take all the vibes of say Taylor Swift’s Folklore album and put it into a book. It is a melancholy read that also showcases a love of language. While I cannot say this is a feel-good read by any stretch of the imagination (in fact I would say it is downright depressing), it is absolutely compelling. I actually found it difficult to put it down. Even though it was either going to make me cringe or cry, I wanted to know what was going to happen.

The main character in this one is a transcriber for the police department and I found her job fascinating. I would say this is a very moody thriller and it actually creeped me out at several points. I think this is due to the author’s expert use of words. It is very atmospheric and so when a crime happens, it immediately places you in the scene. Imagination is aided here by the gorgeous use of language.

Now I will say you may need light-hearted read after this one, but it is worth the read if just for the intriguing plot and narrative. The main character here is relatively unlikable, but at the same time she is so well-written that the reader understands why she acts the way she does. Her motivations, her depression, and her actions all align. If you are looking for a dark thriller, I think this one will keep your interest and have you thinking about it long after you have finished.
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The best part about this book is the atmosphere. The place is a character in the book and the author has captured the bleak, melancholic feel so well. You can feel it in every descriptive sentence.

The book is narrated by the protagonist Hazel Greenlee who has taken up a job as a transcriber in this remote town. She shares a tumultuous relationship with her husband and her mother. Her sister is an influencer. Hazel has many familial issues in life but unfortunately, they are not fully fleshed out. 

Hazel is an interesting character. We see her and her issues in detail. She is intelligent but anti social. She can be snarky and yet emotional.
Things change for her when a deadly crime in the small town occurs. It rocks her world as it also brings into her life Detective Nik- her illicit love interest, 

The story had a great premise but there were some holes in the plotlines and some loose ends.
I think this is a great debut nonetheless.

I'll be keeping an eye out for the author's next book.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for a digital ARC an exchange for an honest review.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and St Martin's PressMinotaur Books for gifting me a digital ARC of the debut suspense novel by Hannah Morrissey - 4 stars!

Hannah got a job as a night shift police transcriber when her and her husband, Tommy, moved to Black Harbor, Wisconsin, a town known only for its crime.  Hannah wants desperately to be a writer and she finds herself drawn to the voice of Detective Nik Kole.  He is the lead investigator on a murder that involves her neighbor, who dumped the body of a teenage boy who died from an overdose.  Detective Kole is investigating the drug trail, supplied by someone known as the Candy Man.  As Hannah gets closer to Nik and the investigation, the rest of her world starts falling apart.

This was such a wonderful, atmospheric novel - you can feel the bleakness of the area, the scariness of the bridge where so many jumped to their death, and the fear and tension throughout is palpable.  Hannah's husband is a piece of work and you can't help but root for Hannah to have her chance at happiness.  I absolutely loved reading the transcriptions as Hannah heard them from the police recordings - really put you in Hannah's mindset.  Plus, as someone who transcribes tapes for a living, it was so interesting to see that there are people who actually speak punctuation (wonder if my boss could be trained?).  Loved the cover too.  A wonderful debut - can't wait to read more from this author!
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This took me by surprise. I went through three phases in reading. The first phase was me finding a lot in common with our main character Hazel. I enjoyed learning about her and learning about her new job. The second phase was a mix of "what?" and "hmms.." I think I got thrown off by some adulterous activity even though hubby-dearest was not a dear at all. I still can't stand by the toxicity of it all. I think that may be a trope I discovered I disliked. All the while, I'm rooting for the suspicious budding relationship while feeling just as cold-hearted as Hazel. There are a lot of underlying emotions that could be quite triggering if you are a person in any sort of abusive relationship or have thoughts of depression or suicide. The third phase was all problem-solving and action. The last 25% I read in one sitting and could not put down. I really enjoyed the direction it went and the character growth of Hazel.

Overall, I think I'll be thinking of this one for quite a while. Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for allowing me to read an e-ARC of this rollercoaster of a book.
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Aspiring writer Hazel takes a new job as a police transcriber as an escape and fodder for new stories.  She never expected to find herself in the middle of a dangerous murder case.  Will this case cost her everything?

Author Hannah Morrissey knows how to set the scene!  It didn't take me long to realize I was caught up in the desolate small town of Black Harbor, which is literally and figuratively sinking.  I empathized with Hazel -- her loneliness, unhappy life, and desire to leave her miserable marriage.  As Hazel worked clandestinely on the Candy Man case, I sensed its ominous nature.   

I enjoyed how this crime thriller unfolded and kept me guessing about the Candy Man's identity until the end.  Hello, Transcriber provides an engaging read with its pace and intrigue, as well as its complex characters. It's a well-done debut novel!
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As a newbie in town, and hailing from "up north", Hazel has a lot to prove.  She buries herself in her work as a transcriber for the police, and pretty soon everyone notices her talent.  That's a good thing, because her home life isn't the best.  Her husband hangs around with her loser neighbor and whatever spark there may have once been in their marriage is gone.  As each officer begins their daily report with "Hello, Transcriber", Hazel fantasizes about what each might look like based on their voices as she transcribes from her headphones.  Sometimes she gets it wrong, but when Nik Kole walks in, she is pleasantly surprised, and lives for his recordings.  Soon after, Hazel is entangled in an emergent crime in more ways than one, finally snapping out of her boredom, but engaging in some pretty dangerous behavior along the way. While this sounds like more romance than thriller, Morrissey blends the two together to tell a fast paced and engaging story.
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Dark, depressing tale of drugs and murder

Hazel Greenlee has moved to crime-ridden Black Harbor, Wisconsin with her aquatic ecologist husband, who was hired by the City. Her dream is to be a full-time writer but in the meantime she uses her impressive keyboarding skills to become a transcriptionist for the local police department working on graveyard shift.

Not happy at home or in the new town, she listens to the dark crimes as she transcribes in her new job and fantasizes about one of the voices she hears giving reports.

This is really a dark tale that just keeps getting darker the longer you read. It's written well but I'd go into it with the right mindset if I were you. 

Child drug deaths, suicides, murders, and more don't make this a FUN read even though, as I already wrote, it is written well.

I received this book from Minotaur Books through Net Galley in the hopes that I would read it and leave an unbiased review.
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Hello, Transcriber is the opening line of each dictation file Hazel works on as a police transcriber. It is her job to write out what the officers say happened at a crime. She hears about the worst of the city, sometimes in great detail. When Hazel writes of young kids and teenagers dying of drug overdoses told from the same officer, Nik. Hazel and Nik enter an interesting relationship and both want to solve the drug problem in town.

The idea of the story is very interesting. I imagine a police transcriber job is not for the faint of heart. You can't help but be pulled into ongoing investigations and wanting to solve them; at least I couldn't. Hazel is a complicated person. She has to be strong at her job but her personal life is a mess and she is not as strong. I liked watching Hazel develop through the story.

I would recommend this book to someone who likes crime novels or general fiction.

I was given an advanced copy of the book by the publisher but all the opinions are my own.
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Yes, yes, yes. Great book; I really enjoyed this.  The writing is fantastic, the characters are engaging & I would definitely recommend!!

I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.
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A thank you to Netgalley for sharing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I was intrigued by the premise when I requested the ARC and as a longtime WI resident/librarian,
reading it wasn't really an option. Of course, the glowing critical reviews only added to my curiosity. According to Crimereads, it's one of the best mysteries of the month. I only wish that was the case for me. Don't get me wrong, this is nowhere near a bad novel, and it does in fact, have a number of things going. The it's incredibly atmospheric, the setting description spot-on, and the writing itself is compelling. Clunky at times (transcription scenes for which I quickly lost patience) and often excessively dramatic, but at times almost poetically so - as a word nerd myself, I appreciated the author's similar fascination with nuance. Overall, I enjoyed the book for the most part, I just would have enjoyed it more had I not occasionally not found the writing and main character irritating. Will be interested to see this debut author's follow-up.
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