Cover Image: Hello, Transcriber

Hello, Transcriber

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Hazel is at sea when she takes a job as a transcriber with the Black Harbor Police.  Her husband Tommy is abusive and obsessed with guns, her sister Elle is getting married, and she wants to be. writer. It's her first night and Sammy, her neighbor appears in the window to write a message on the glass- a message that leads to the discovery of a dead child, a drug dealer, and all the rest of the things that happen in this fast paced genre leaping (thriller?  procedural?  romantic suspense?)  novel which is at times unrealistic.  Hazel finds herself fascinated with Nik, the police officer on the case, who has his own secrets. There are additional murders and some interesting twists but there are also plot holes.  I liked Elle, who was a bright spot in this otherwise quite dark and grim novel (no spoilers re Elle).  Tommy- well, he's odious. Hazel's interesting and I felt for her.   I'll admit to being a bit confused as things grew to a crescendo but no spoilers from me.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A good debut - I'm looking forward to more from Morrissey.
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I received a digital advance copy of Hello, Transcriber by Hannah Morrissey via NetGalley. Hello, Transcriber is scheduled for release on November 30, 2021.

Hello, Transcriber is the story of Hazel, a woman hired as a transcriber for a police department in Wisconsin. Hazel is married (no longer happily), and seems to be hiding in this Wisconsin location, though we aren’t sure from what. While working one night, a confession arrives at Hazel’s work window, pulling her into both a criminal investigation and a relationship with the officer investigating the crime.

The story is told entirely from Hazel’s point of view, though we get a bit of perspective from other characters through the reports she transcribes for officers involved in the case. Hazel’s relationship with one officer (Kole) is well-developed, and becomes a primary focus for the story. Less well developed are Hazel’s relationships with other people, including her husband. We see their relationship as it exists during the current story, where their relationship contains nothing good. I would have like to see a bit of how they were before, to understand Hazel a bit better. She tells us she loved her husband, but the reader gets no evidence.

I also wanted more of Hazel’s past in general. She hints at huge events from her past that clearly influence what is happening for her int he current story. As a reader, those past events were only hints, not clearly developed in a way that helped explain her current choices.

In terms of setting, I had some difficulties with both the time and place of the story. The story felt as if it were occurring in a small town. Sort of. The small town feel was inconsistent, with some events indicating that we were actually in a city, not a small town at all. I had the same challenge with the time of the story. Overall, the story felt as if it were taking place in the 90s. Yet, technology used in the story made it clear we were in present day. These inconsistencies sometimes pulled me out of the story.

What kept me in the story was the messiness of Hazel. She is definitely flawed, but in ways that are understandable (even when I wanted more of the past that led her to current choices). Her accidental immersion in a criminal investigation, and the questionable choices she makes in regard to her participation in the investigation, worked to keep me invested in the questions of the story. 

Overall, Hello, Transcriber was an intriguing crime story focused on a unintentional investigator. While some of the relationships and elements of the setting could have been better, the story as a whole remained engaging.
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Black Harbour, Wisconsin is about the murkiest place you can go in small town crime fiction. A high crime rate, a bridge that takes lives and drug addicted kids living in dilapidated housing. These characteristics give the reader a fairly good idea of the setting of this suspense novel.

Hazel takes a job in the local police department transcribing reports on the night shift and soon involves herself in one of the cases that she has a connection to. Her neighbour Sam writes a message for her on the window of her workplace. Hazel, along with one of the lesser respected investigators in the department, work to find out who has been feeding drugs to young kids. Add in some complicated emotions and romantic involvement and you have a unique story. 

What I liked:
- The write what you know factor. The author has also worked as a police transcriber
-  A little bit of steam in a thrilling story
- I added a few new words to my vocabulary with this one. The author either has a large vocabulary herself or has a very good thesaurus
- The looming darkness of the story and the jump out of your chair moments

What I didn’t love
-There was a LGBTQ+ character which is great but also felt like it was added simply to say that there was representation. The plot line attached to this character fell short

Thank you to @netgalley and @Minotaur_books for this arc in exchange for my honest opinions. Hello, Transcriber comes out November 30, 2021.
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When Hazel Greenlee is hired as a transcriber for her local police department, she gets more than she ever bargained for. Hazel is awkward but very intelligent, and somehow jibes with charming but rogue detective Nik Kole. As crimes go down around the small town, Hazel gets drawn in much further than she had ever imagined; she’s just supposed to be the transcriber. 

I was surprised about how much I liked this book. The plot was enjoyable, but the prose was just beautiful and haunting. I would read it again for that alone. This is not your typical police procedural or mystery; really, it’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. This is Morrisey’s third book, and I really hope to see more from her if her writing is this powerful every time.
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I have a background in security and I like procedural reads. I found this to be a sharp and thrilling read. It touches on the crime at hand, the personalities of the responding personnel and so much more. This is one of the best crime fiction reads of the year!
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I really enjoyed the premise of “Hello Transcriber'', Hazel Greenlee’s job is to listen to recorded statements made by police officers and type them into written reports for file. She’s sworn to secrecy, and the details she listens to and transcribes would be any true crime buff’s dream job. I really like the character of Hazel, she’s in a dead-end marriage, clueless that her husband is a total loser and self-centered jerk. She's awkward and antisocial, yet very intelligent and super fast at typing. It doesn’t take long for her to fall under the charismatic ways of lead detective Nik Kole.
The plot and storyline are too full of holes and loose ends for me to enjoy, though. Why does a transcriber immediately enter a crime scene with an investigator? She’s office support, not qualified or trained for fieldwork. Why do they sully the crime scene with their unrestrained attraction to one another? And she’s just a little too close to the suspects, to the point of having a shared basement with no locks and a direct path to her own bedroom.
But I have to admit, I did keep reading and I stayed hooked until the end. It's an interesting plot and an enjoyable read as long as you don't question the practicality of the story. 
Sincere thanks to St. Martin’s Press- Minotaur for an ARC in exchange for my honest review. The publishing date is November 30, 2021.
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First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Hannah Morrissey, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Hannah Morrissey impresses in this powerful novel, where a woman in a new position within a small police force takes on a significant role in a baffling set of murders. Thrust into the middle of it all, Hazel Greenlee moves from simply documenting the reports the police detectives make to being a key part of solving the case, all while getting herself into a great deal of personal trouble. With well-crafted plot lines and impressive narrative momentum, Hannah Morrissey ensures that readers take note of her style.

It’s never easy being new in town, even less so when everyone seems to know one another. Such is the case for Hazel Greenlee, who has recently moved to Black Harbor, Wisconsin. When she takes a job as a police transcriber, she presumes it will be all work and that she will have to sit on the secrets that flow into her ears, but it ends up being much more than that.

The death of a young boy from an overdose is bad enough to hear through the transcription machine, but when Hazel connects with one of the detectives, it take on a new horror. How someone could have coaxed a young boy to take pills and then later tossed him into a Dumpster is unreal, though it is all too true.

As the days progress, Hazel finds herself drawn to one of the detectives on the case, with secrets of his own. Risking everything, Hazel puts herself in the middle of the case, seeking to know more than is revealed to her in investigative reports. Soon, she finds herself having crossed many lines, some of which she cannot erase, which is sure to cause issues both at work and home. As a killer remains on the lam, it will take Hazel’s intuition and perhaps a little luck to stay out of the crosshairs, though she is already in a great deal of trouble away from the precinct. A great story that kept me wondering until the final chapter, proving that Hannah Morrissey is another author to keep on my radar.

I love police procedurals, as many who have seen a number of my reviews will know. However, many of these novels seem to use the same format, so I look for unique takes in order to really make them worth my while. Hannah Morrissey delivers with an angle I would have not thought could work, that of a transcriptionist who is seeing and hearing of the crimes and fallout through recordings she must put into typed words. Morrissey does well to add depth and flavour to the story throughout, keeping the reader guessing as to how things will go and where the plot twist will take things. I am eager to see where things go from this debut.

Hazel Greenlee is a great character that connects easily with the reader. She’s got some issues through which she must work, but is also keen to make her mark. With some backstory tossed in amongst a great deal of character development, Hazel works her way into the middle of the Black Harbor community with ease. There is still much about Hazel that has not been revealed, so I can only hope Morrissey has more to come before too long.

Unique takes on crime thrillers is a sure way to distinguish one’s self in a genre that is supersaturated. Hannah Morrissey does well to show that she’s not only here to make her mark, but be memorable in doing so. There is much to praise within this novel, not the least of which is a strong narrative that keeps pushing ahead. Morrissey develops great characters, some likeable while others are truly sinister, without getting too wrapped up in them so as to hinder the story. The transcriptionist angle was genius and adds depth to the plot, as long as the reader can stomach reading some actual dialogue that includes dictated sentences (complete with verbalised punctuation). This was a great novel that kept me wondering and I can only hope that Hannah Morrissey has more to come before long.

Kudos, Madam Morrissey, for a fabulous debut. I am eager to see where you go with this premise in the coming years.
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I really wanted to love this-- great concept, snowy Midwestern setting-- but it felt overwritten and overwrought, with characters who do things normal humans wouldn't do. It just didn't work for me.
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Just not for me. I had a hard time connecting with the characters, location, and plot. cw - mentions of suicide
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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
The synopsis of this book sounded intriguing to me so I requested a copy to read.
Unfortunately, I have tried reading this book on 2 separate occasions and during this 2nd attempt, I have
decided to stop reading this book 
and state that this book just wasn't for me.
I wish the author, publisher and all those promoting the book much success and connections with the right readers.
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A truly compulsive read!  This thriller had ominous, creepy  overtones that kept me turning the pages.

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The first person narrator is a mixed bag:  a  young, very pretty, aspiring writer with a college degree who still comes across as a wet behind the ears "podunk" - as she is often fondly referred to by her illicit love interest, Inspector Nikolai Kole.

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Hazel's  marriage is on the rocks.  She married young (at sixteen if I remember correctly!) and her sex life is literally too painful for words  (and downright brutal if you ask me!)   While I truly could not put this book down, there were elements of this story that needed fleshing out.  What was the traumatic incident that created this psychosomatic response in Hazel?  Why did her mother leave her father, abandoning her young children in the process?  And that MAJOR twist during the last few chapters of the novel literally came out of nowhere  (no spoilers here.)  The author did manage to add spice and interest to  several well-worn tropes, but I was often left wanting more backstory or details.

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If this author tires of writing thrillers, she would do well in the romance line:  Nikolai Kole is your typical drop-dead gorgeous loner  SIU cop who is unattainable - that is, until he meets young Hazel.  Their encounters usually had me holding my breath - they were sizzling hot!  

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At a few points in the novel  I feared for Hazel's sanity. Her character became incredibly paranoid and even doubted Kole's identity/existence.  Hazel admits to her sister Elle that she is not a very nice person, and yet the author creates several scenarios where the reader is induced to feel sorry for poor, put-upon Hazel.  The ending had some major "about-faces" that again had me doubting Hazel's sanity or the intended direction of this story.  I wondered if these out of the blue  reversals  or sudden character wheel-arounds could  be attributed to an abandoned plot line or last minute editing?  The last third of the novel was not as emotionally compelling as the first two-thirds, but the graphic action scenes kept my attention riveted to the very last page.

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Did I guess the culprit?  Hard not to:  there were so few suspects left alive at the end of this story.  This is the author's second novel.  She writes well, but she shares the same affliction that many young authors suffer from:  a love affair with their dictionaries.  I can throw no stones because I love a new, intriguing word and I used to memorize a new word every day in my teens.  The problem with including these intriguing new words in a novel is that you interrupt the flow of the narrative and risk alienating your reader.  I stopped looking up the many "tantalizing new words" towards the middle:  they really didn't add to the story and I just got plain tired of having to reread the paragraph to put the unknown word in context.  Hannah Morrissey hopes to impress and entertain her readers.  For the most part, she certainly did that, but throwing in those numerous "fifty-cent words" -  as I like to call them -  lost her a rating point with me.

I suspect that this author's next book will be even better than this one:  she certainly knows how to grab the readers' attention and keep it!  Four out of five  well-deserved stars for great story-telling. - she just needs to get out of her own way and do what she does very well:  tell a gripping story.   Despite these minor issues,  I highly recommend this one.

Triggers:  Suicide Ideation; descriptions of  extreme  violence; infidelity
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Hazel Greenlee, an aspiring writer, begins her new job as Transcriber at the local Black Harbor Police Department. Her night shifts are going well, the police are happy with her work, and she’s getting along with her coworkers. That all changes one night when Hazel looks out the window and sees her neighbour outside writing a terrifying message on the glass. This message reignites the hunt for the Candy Man, a drug dealer who has been selling to kids for years. 

Soon after, Hazel becomes entangled in the case. She also becomes extremely infatuated with Investigator Nikolai Kole, the man leading the search for this notorious drug dealer.

I would have liked this novel more if Hazel and Kole had kept things professional. Her crush on Kole was very eye-roll-inducing. Although, it’s not hard to understand why Hazel would turn to Kole since her husband is so toxic and controlling. 

I found the writing style to be whimsical maybe even slightly overwritten at times. Hazel wants to be a writer, so it makes sense, I suppose. There were some twists that I did not see coming. However, in my opinion, the cringe romance completely overshadowed the case. 

But, overall, this book was very atmospheric. I could feel the cold, lonely nights and days through the (ebook) pages. I also think the author did a great job depicting depression and how hard it can be to break the cycle of abuse. 

Thank you to Minotaur Books/St. Martin’s Press for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Hazel Greenlee is broken. Her dreams of being a published author seem distant, she’s living in a Wisconsin’s most crime ridden city, and her marriage is less than stellar. When she gets a new job as a transcriber for the local police station, Hazel is not only dragged into a gruesome murder but is forced to come clean to herself about how suffocated she feels in her life.

This is not your typical crime/detective novel. While the story ultimately follows a crime, the path to getting it solved isn’t our main focal point. Instead Hazel’s will to live is what drives this story. Morrissey has been incredibly successful in make this a majorly depressing book. The melancholy tones mixed in with the dark, gritty, and hopeless atmosphere give readers such a vivid depiction of the town. I could feel Hazel’s unhappiness through the pages.

All of our characters felt realistic too much especially our main character Hazel. While Hazel is our only narrator, Morrissey did a fabulous job of making all of our supporting characters vivid and relatable. She also gives all of our characters a tremendous amount of character growth which is amazing considering the book is just over 300 pages.

I couldn’t decide between 3 stars or 4 stars for this one but ultimately decided on a 3.5 rating, rounded up to 4 for Goodreads. I enjoyed the buildup and the bit of suspense within the story, but it was a little slow pacing wise and the description while beautifully written could get wordy . I’d still highly recommend this to read though, just know it’s a slow burn and more atmospheric than plot driven.

Trigger warnings: depression, suicide.

Hello, Transcriber comes out November 30, 2021. Huge thank you to Minotaur books for my advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.  If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my Instagram @speakingof_books.
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I absolutely loved this book. Anyone who loves a good thriller that has some twists and turns that you would NOT expect would enjoy this read. The story follows Hazel, who is from "up north" but ends up in this crime dominated city called Black Harbor, with her husband. Her relationship is not in the best way when we meet her at the beginning of the book, and it only gets worse. However, she is hired as a police interview transcriber and this is where our story begins. 
There are a series of murders, and crime, related to drugs in the area. 
I thought the story was very well fashioned, giving the feel of a grimy underbelly of society to most of the places where Hazel was forced to find herself. I also think that there was a good turn of events at the end that was unexpected and led me to really appreciate the author's choices. 
This book was very well written and if you want something intriguing and that you can't put down, pick this book up.

This ebook was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this mystery suspense debut that centered around a police transcriber. In a dime a dozen detective stories out there, this character was a refreshing and new take on the behind the scenes lens of police work. If you go in knowing that this is more mystery than suspense, you’ll enjoy it. Also, bonus for a little office will they / won’t they romance that helped add to the story.
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My nutshell analysis? Five stars for creativity (how many books have you read in which the main character is a crackerjack professional transcriber of police reports?) and four - once in a while, three - for execution. Overall, that's not a bad score, and I'd call this a pretty good book. In fact, it was the transcriber part that got my attention in the first place; I really warmed up when I learned that Hazel Greenlee could type more than 100 words per minute virtually error-free. That's because, back in the day, I could do the same (on a manual typewriter, no less). 

Hazel and her husband, Tommy, have moved to a duplex in a backwoods place called Black Harbor. Here, Tommy can practice his survivalist skills, drink beer and gaslight Hazel to his heart's content. But Hazel's heart isn't content at all; she'd love to ditch the town - and maybe Tommy with it - but she settles in by handling transcription duties on the night shift while she tries to write the novel that she hopes will be her ticket to freedom. 

Soon after she starts the job, a man confesses to putting the body of a young drug overdose victim in a dumpster - a death police believe is connected to a local drug dealer known as Candy Man. The lead detective is Nikolai Kole, a local "boy" who's developed a reputation for stepping too close to the unethical procedures line at least once too often. Hazel is intrigued - at first because she's trying to follow the "write what you know" maxim and everything that's happening is providing fodder for her novel - and later because Nik himself is an irresistible temptation. 

Hazel is, however, walking a dangerous tightrope; she's got a secret that, if revealed, could result in losing her job. And here's where the "you've got to be kidding me" moment hit: there's no way Nik's investigation - assuming he's doing it properly - wouldn't discover it right away. For that matter, anybody in the police department would know unless she lied on her job application.

As all this is going on, Hazel is helping her sister Elle - a popular "influencer" (seems like every book I've read this year has a character in this relatively new profession) - get ready for her engagement party and wedding. Details of Elle's life come as a big reveal late in the story, but I honestly wondered why it was even there - it's not like it was posing any problem for anyone in the book, including Elle. But it is a timely topic, so maybe it was just to show that someone can go through what Elle did and have a successful life.

As tensions between Hazel and Nik and Hazel and Tommy heat up (for different reasons, of course) the body of another young person is found, followed by the murder of someone that hits closer to home. As she tries to decide where her own life is headed, Hazel begins to suspect that some people aren't who they seem. In her mind, she's become the victim, and the only thing that really matters is getting out of the mess she's helped create for herself.

Overall, it's an intriguing premise and an engrossing story. I thank the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review a pre-release copy.
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Hello Transcriber:  A Novel
Hannah Morrissey
November 30, 2021

It´s Black  Harbor, Wisconsin, a rural town by a huge, polluted lake. Hazel and Tommy Greenlee moved here from Chicago.  Tommy is an aquatic ecologist.  He spends his days exploring different parts of the black abyss with test strips and sieves. He and his partner Cam are working for the government trying to discover the cause of the lakes ruin. They moved to the borough two years ago.  Things have not improved for Hazel since. Tommy spends his spare time with friends fishing and hunting.  He brings home the game and wild vegetables he finds growing in the country.  It all tastes of the chemicals that plague the land and water. Hazel decides itś time to find a job, get a life of her own. She heads to the police department for an interview with locals regarding an ad she found;  looking for a Transcriber.  Since she has the ability to copy transcription notes at amazing speed, she thinks this would be the job for her. 
After talking with committees, then individuals, she finds herself being given a tour of the department with explanations of what the job requires.  The other transcribe, Mona, gives her a sad, dark, description of the work demands.  Regardless, Hazel accepts the position and begins the job on Monday.  As she sits to listen to her first report, she is nervous but follows as the recording begins: ¨ Ḧello Transcriber¨. 
The reports are print outs of detectiveś actions for the day. With her typing speed, the write-up goes quickly.  The information is frightening, sad and alarming. The town has drug problems.  Lately a dealer known as ¨The Candyman¨ has been selling drugs mixed with poison. Children have died.  
This latest book by Hannah Morrissey is a dark, suspenseful tale. It was almost too much but it was compelling to read. Hello Transcriber: A Novel  published by Minotaur Books will be published on November 30, 2021.  I appreciate their allowing me to read and review this novel via NetGalley. It is not for those who prefer a cozy mystery.  It is a literary read that is very well written, just frightening in its reality. No fake monsters, only human ones.
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I really enjoyed this novel from Hannah Morrissey. 

We follow the life of Hazel, stuck in a marriage that that is almost borderline abusive, in the town of Black Harbor - a crime ridden small town in Wisconsin. She takes a job as a transcriber for the local police department, working nights. She wants to be a writer, and hopes to use her experiences as the plot of a book. 

When her neighbor confesses to hiding a body, Hazel has a front row seat to the ongoing murder investigation. As she transcribes the police reports, she hears all the details of the case, involving a suspected drug  dealer known as 'The Candy Man". She becomes infatuated with the lead detective, and finds herself in dangerous situations. 

I found the novel very atmospheric - I could feel the despair in this dreary town with its frequent suicides, few jobs and drug crimes. I understood why Hazel wanted to find a way out of this place with her writing. I liked the way she played with words and phrases during her day - making notes of sentences that would work in her book..

How far will she go in the end, to find the killer, and get the story?

I look forward to reading more from this author.
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Hazel, a police report transcriber, gets caught up in a murder investigation in Black Harbor, a once prosperous town in Wisconsin, with a high crime & suicide rate. This book drew me in at the very beginning with its lyrical writing and kept me in its grip with a compelling mystery/thriller and soul-searching. I was constantly surprised where the author took Hazel on her up & down spiral through-out the book.

I loved how the author included the actual police transcriptions into the story and her vivid description of the town brought it to life. This is a underlying tension throughout the book from many avenues & the ending was a perfect fit for the story. 

I recommend this to all who likes mysteries dark and gritty mysteries.
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Great premise but wow what an uninviting protagonist. Hazel (an awful name, depressing in itself) is a grossly inadequate person who once walked off a job at a community college because her sister made a disparaging remark about community colleges. (Huh? That's supposed to be something a real person would do?) Hazel arrives with her husband to Black Harbor, his home town, an economically depressed and crime-ridden city. Her neuroses multiply. The first time she jogs over the river bridge she has to sacrifice a trinket in a superstitious effort to avoid the compulsion to jump. 

Hazel's husband is a civil servant yet his salary isn't enough to afford even a modest house. Instead they live in a very old half- double beside an odd old man and his odder grown son in the other half, and so Hazel takes a job as a police transcriptionist on the night shift, ostensibly because she needs money. Why a night job when her typing rate is 111 with 98% accuracy? Don't law firms, hospitals, and larger businesses (that one would imagine would pay better) need transcriptionists on the day shift? And why has Hazel's husband, who is certainly an educated man, become an extravagantly overwritten stereotypical gun-toting rube?

Maybe these questions are answered later in the book but I confess that didn't read far enough to find out. Hazel is such an unpalatable person that I was not enticed by the promise of a mystery thriller.
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