Member Reviews

Happy Pub Day to The Widowmaker and Hannah Morrisey! If you are looking for a gritty and dark story, this is the one for you.

What I loved:
•the realistic portrayal of a police procedural
•the different storylines that seamlessly came together
•the writing that was gripping and descriptive. These descriptions were beautiful and had me reading several sentences more than once.

This reminded me of Karin Slaughter’s work, who happens to be a fave of mine. Im going to go back and read Hello, Transcriber asap!

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If you’re looking for the perfect winter thriller to binge in one sitting, this is the book for you!

I didn’t realize when I requested an arc of this from NetGalley that this book was part of a series, but honestly I never felt lost or confused so I think it’s safe to say you can read this as a standalone! (@hannahmorrisey correct me if I’m wrong on that one!🤣)

This book was everything I want in a thriller! Hannah Morrissey’s writing was beautiful and it hooked me right away. It was atmospheric, the characters were well developed and perfectly described so I could easily picture them in my head while reading, and it was just disturbing enough to leave you feeling like what the heck did I just read?! but not too dark where I felt super uncomfortable! While I did suspect the villain, it didn’t change my opinion of the book at all and honestly I was glad I was right because I wasn’t a huge fan of that character anyway 😆

I can’t wait to read the first installment in the Black Harbor series now, and read whatever else Hannah Morrissey has planned for this town in the future!! Whatever she’s got cooked up, I’m so here for it!

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press & Hannah Morrissey for the opportunity to read this e-arc in exchange for my honest opinion!

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Twenty years ago, well-known businessman Clive Reynolds went missing and most folks assumed is wife got away with murder. Now, Morgan Mori has recently returned to her small hometown of Black Harbor, Wisconsin (woohoo!) after losing just about everything she owns in a house fire - except for a cryptic message. She's hired to photograph the Reynolds' family holiday party and on her way home, witnesses a murder. But not just any murder - the murder of Officer Garrison, who was investigating the (now cold) case of the murder of Clive Reynolds. Enter Garrison's best friend, fellow investigator Ryan Hudson, and things start to get a little bananas.

This book is the second in a series, which I didn't realize, but can be read as a standalone. It's definitely a mystery/thriller, but does a lot to also investigate family drama and small town politics, particularly Morgan's rough childhood. It's a bit of a slow burn, even though it's on a shorter side at fewer than 300 pages, so I will admit that it took me a beat to get into it. But I enjoyed the story once it got rolling and thought it had some great twists and finished strong.

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“She wondered, fleetingly, what it was like to miss someone so much, to love them so deeply that when they died, you lost the will to talk.“⁣

Why are y’all sleeping on Hannah Morrissey, whyyyyyy?! I loved Hello, Transcriber last year and I felt like it didn’t get as much traction as I thought it would. So I thought to myself that’s okay, I know we’re gonna scream about The Widowmaker! So, this is me.. screaming.. about The Widowmaker.⁣

First and foremost, Hannah Morrissey is a fucking talented storyteller. (yes, expletive is necessary) Her descriptions and the way the story is slowly unveiled is masterful. I wish everyone could weave an event together like Morrissey. Bloody brilliant.⁣

Of course I did this on audio (thank you and again, phenomenal. Adam Verner and Xe Sands did a fantastic job. Highly recommend grabbing this on audio. Morgan has this chip on her shoulder and that grit played out well on audio. Plus, her sarcasm hit perfectly.⁣

Overall, it’s a banger for me. If you haven’t read Morrissey, do yourself a favor and pick this up. They can be read as standalone (in my opinion) and think both are amazing.⁣

Thank you again @minotaur_books and for the gifted copies! The Widowmaker is out now!

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What's it about (in a nutshell):
The Widowmaker is a complex and dark murder mystery that left me guessing until the end. A cop shot in a quickie mart, a car belonging to a missing wealthy man discovered in the lake with a dead body inside, and the photographer who had the most challenging life imaginable all come together to form a complex story with a perfect ending.
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
I am intrigued by the skeleton key in ice on the cover, but the title makes me think of a political thriller. The description matches the image on the cover and sounds like a juicy, fat mystery just waiting to be read by someone like me who loves puzzles.
Actual Reading Experience:
I found this story to be one I couldn’t put down, even though it reached a point where I wanted to do so. The story gets very dark and disturbing in the middle, and right when I had reached the point where I thought I would have to put it down and not pick it up again, it switched back to focusing on the mysteries, leaving the past in the background. It is definitely worth sticking with it through the darkness, though, as the mysteries are infinitely complex and harrowing, and the revelations are absolutely jaw-dropping.
I loved the ending! It ended just right and in a way that ultimately balanced out other parts of the book. I love an ending that surprises me, and this was done in a way I never expected. It indeed was the perfect ending.
I also loved the relationship between Morgan and Ryan. It is complex and messy, with an air of mystery that felt just right for the story.
Morgan is a photographer who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is full of street smarts, a true survivor, and a very bold woman who is always quick to cut to the chase. At first, I don’t know that I liked her very much, but she definitely grew on me. By the end, I was solidly in her corner – rooting for her and defending her without doubts.
Ryan Hudson is the police detective assigned to discover how a Porshe belonging to a missing man ended up in the lake with a dead body inside – a dead body that is not presumed to be the man in question. But he can’t help but be distracted by bringing the criminal who shot and killed his former partner and mentor to justice.
Narration & Pacing:
The pacing is quick, mainly, with some slowdowns here and there. The story doesn’t go at break-neck speed, but I was never dissatisfied with it. The narration is in the third person and focuses on either Morgan or Ryan. And, the plot is very tightly constructed, lending to the quickness in the pace—everything about the narration and pacing made for a satisfying read.
The setting is Black Harbor, which is on the coast of lake Michigan. It is described as “a coal-blackened slum rife with murder and mischief,” with a narrow strip on the water where the rich live, mingle at supper clubs, and take their boats out on the lake. It is a very dichotomous city that is perfect for all of this story’s complexities.
Read if you like:
• Mysteries with a bit of darkness and grit
• Police procedural with a good mystery and excellent character development
• Shocking twists and turns
• A book you won’t be able to put down

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Hannah Morrissey became an auto-buy author for me after reading her first novel HELLO, TRANSCRIBER, and has proven herself as a fresh voice of crime fiction. THE WIDOWMAKER is the second installment in the Black Harbor series and it did not disappoint!

What I loved 🎟️
🗝️ crime fiction
🗝️ wealthy family with secrets
🗝️ a decades-long cold case
🗝️ a photographer MC
🗝️ characters with pasts they want to keep buried
🗝️ the dark atmosphere of the town Black Harbor

THE WIDOWMAKER is a twisty, unputdownable story with complex characters and stellar writing.

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Hannah Morrissey's "The Widowmaker" is set in the bitterly cold city of Black Harbor, Wisconsin. Morgan Mori is a tough-minded thirty-one-year-old woman who is down on her luck. Hoping to jump start her career, she spends what little money she has on photographic equipment. Bennett Reynolds, a CEO of a private equity firm, hires her to take pictures of his wealthy extended family at a holiday party in their mansion. Eleanor, Bennett's mother, still wonders if her husband, Clive Reynolds, who vanished twenty years earlier, is dead or in hiding. His disappearance remains an unsolved case.

Meanwhile, Police investigator Ryan Hudson is devastated when an unidentified perpetrator guns down his former partner, Brix Garrison, during an apparent robbery attempt. By coincidence, the aforementioned Ms. Mori happens to be on the premises during the shooting, but the killer does not harm her or the shopkeeper. Another significant subplot involves Morgan's vicious Aunt Bern, who abused her horribly as a child. As an adult, Morgan unleashes her anger and bitterness on others in a shocking manner that torments her to this day.

"The Widowmaker" has hints at sinister goings-on that the author develops at a leisurely pace. We eventually find out that Ryan is disconsolate—not only because of Garrison's tragic death—but also because of the loss of a loved one who, for no obvious reason, is not identified until later in the book. Morrissey is a skilled descriptive writer who evocatively captures the dismal atmosphere of Black Harbor. It is a bleak city where working class people, like Morgan's parents, struggle to make a living. It is too bad that the novel is undermined by its muddled and implausible twists and turns, and a melodramatic ending that requires pages of exposition to explain.

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This page-turner is perfect for any holiday downtime you have- it will keep you glued to the pages, and Morgan is one of those characters you quickly learn to love, and root for. As the Reynolds family draws her into the sphere more and more, the danger mounts. But is it from within, or from someone outside their circle? As time continues she doesn't know who she can trust. A roller coaster ending will have you rapidly turning the pages! Don't miss this book!

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WOW! I can’t believe this is only Hannah’s 2nd book. I absolutely devoured it in one sitting. I was going to stop and finish the next day but then something jaw dropping happened and I needed to know what else was going to happen. There were twists & turns I never saw coming. There were heartbreaking moments that my jaw literally dropped and I held my breath. Going to pick up her debut now and will pick up whatever she writes in the future!

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advanced reader copy. This is my honest review.

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This is the second book in the Black Harbor series by Hannah Morrissey. I have not read the first book in this series, but it did not hinder me enjoying this novel at all. I have not read any books by this author, but the cover drew me in as well as the description. There were some graphic descriptions of abuse, but it was kept minimal. I am all for a broken character that is looking for answers to heal. Sometimes a novel needs a graphic backdrop in order for the reader to grasp their plight. It was needed here in order to fulfill this characters' story.

Morgan Mori is the lead character in the dark and twisty tale. Her losing her home and a mysterious note with a key brings her back to black harbor. A place she wanted to forget. Secrets have a way of bubbling to the surface, and she has plenty. Hudson is an investigator thrown in Morgans world when a murder of his best friend, and the discovery of an old widowmaker from 20 years ago that brings new evidence to a missing persons cold case. The two team up to find some answers they have both been looking for in relation to both cases. Hudson has some secrets of his own that complicates the investigation, but greatly increases the tension between these two.

The author does a great job of creating these characters and the dark world that surrounds them both. There are twists, secrets, and answers the reader won't see coming. The story never felt rushed, and it is tied up nicely where you not left wondering at the end.


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Is an inheritance a blessing or a nightmare? Sometimes it can be both. For Morgan it’s starting to look like it is. After losing everything in a fire and receiving a mysterious key- she returns home to Black Harbor to find out what really happened to her all those years ago.

A old cold case no one can solve? Check. An out of place family who is distinctly the other half? Check. What more could one want in a book, honestly? The Widowmaker keeps you guessing page after page. The final twist was mind boggling. Absolutely stunning read.

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Book Review: The Widowmaker by Hannah Morrissey

The Widowmaker is a mystery and crime thriller about a young woman whose past caught up with her and the detective investigating his former partner’s murder.

Morgan is back in Black Harbor after living in Chicago and working out her traumatic childhood in a really twisted way. But someone is taunting her with messages as if he/she knows about her and her past. After photographing an extravagant Christmas party at the Reynolds estate she is the witness of a cop’s murder at the local mini mart.
Detective Ryan Hudson is put on the cold case of the long missing (but presumed dead) patriarch instead of solving the murder of his former partner Brix. But Ryan is quietly investigating Brix’s murder anyway and the connection between Brix and Clive Reynolds is starting to come into focus. Only the mysterious witness Morgan Mori can help him solve both cases.
This is the second book in the Black Harbor series and like Hello, Transcriber this one is chock full of cynical cops and low life criminals against the backdrop of a miserable crime blighted city. That being said it’s not for everyone. Morgan Mori is a pierced and tattooed young woman that handled her trauma in a really twisted way which put her in the path of a psycho who is leaving her messages along with a mysterious skeleton key. The details about her childhood abuse are disturbing and might be too much for some readers. Detective Ryan Hudson is keeping secrets of his own and needs to solve his former partner’s murder before his own past catches up with him.
My only criticism is that the writing can sometimes be too full of similes. It felt like every paragraph had a sentence that had the words “___ like a ____” somewhere in it and it pulled me out of the story. This might be personal to just me but I think overused expressions “like a tiger stalking it’s prey” should be permanently retired from books. It was also a little over the top when it came to Morgan’s storyline. Between the abuse and abandonment of her childhood and now being stalked as an adult it felt a little too much like a “woman in jeopardy” story and we didn’t get a lot of background on her at all except the more salacious details.
Overall, this was an entertaining trip back to Black Harbor. It kept my interest and kept me guessing. Although I didn’t like it as well as Hello, Transcriber I thought it had a really solid ending and left me wondering what will happen in Black Harbor next.

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If you are a fan of dark, unsettling, atmospheric thrillers, then you are definitely going to want to read The Widow Maker by Hannah Morrissey. A huge thank you to St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books, the author and NetGalley for the advanced digital copy. This is the second book in the Black Harbor series. However, this book can be read as a standalone. This was actually my first time reading a book by the author, and I honestly did not want to put it down until the very end. The Widow Maker is an edge of your seat, gritty police procedural told from alternating points of view that of the protagonist and investigator. The storyline deals with some disturbing subject matters and has an ending that you will not see coming. A well written, intriguing mystery. A fantastic read from start to finish, and one to add to your winter reading list.

Book Synopsis: After receiving a key with a mysterious note attached struggling photographer Morgan Mori decides to return home to Black Harbor, Wisconsin. A cold, gloomy crime-ridden town filled with deception and secrets. On the same night she photographs the Christmas gathering of the wealthy and mysterious Reynolds family, she unfortunately becomes the eyewitness to the murder of a policeman. This stirs up the discovery of a long-buried clue which could help unravel a twenty year old cold case that Investigator Ryan Hudson has been tasked with figuring out, but now he is fully preoccupied with the current investigation into the murder of his partner. But the closer he gets to the truth means Morgan just might have to expose her own seedy dark past.

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I love police procedural's and thought this one was well written and had an interesting storyline. Part of the plot centered around a cold case which I liked.

This book was dark and full of secrets. It had lots of twist and turns and I liked that it was told in multiple POVs. It did take me awhile to connect with the characters and there was one part near the end that I thought was a bit unbelievable, but overall I enjoyed it!

Thank you @netgalley and @minotaur_books for the e-arc of this book!

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The Widowmaker is impossible to put down and even harder to stop thinking about; with characters so fully formed, they walk right off the page, crawl inside you, and stick to your bones.

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I think it’s difficult to combine dual perspectives well, to make a flawless tie-in between the two. I sometimes get confused between perspectives, ultimately making me lose interest in the story, but Hannah Morrissey weaves Morgan’s and Hudson’s stories together so perfectly that I almost forgot there weren’t always intertwined. As this series matures, I think it’s getting more and more twisty, and I’m already excited to see what happens in the third installment!

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I enjoyed this dark, atmospheric thriller. I enjoyed the writing and found it difficult to put down. I'm always fascinated with stories centered around wealthy families and scandals and I thought the character development was well done. I was completely immersed in the mystery and very satisfied with the ending. I would like to see more books from this author taking place in Black Harbor!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my e-ARC.

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Morgan recieves a message and a key in the ruins of her unit. The message: My Ruin all roads lead back home.

This story is told from the alternating POVs of Hudson and Morgan. Their lives are intertwined when Morgan witnesses the murder of Officer Garrison who is Hudson's former partner. The last words Officer Garrison says are "I found you". I needed to know why he was looking for her!

Morgan has endured some absolutely horrific events in her life when she was living with her aunt as a child. But, she overcame the horrors and was a remarkable woman.

Hudson lost his wife and still mourns and misses her tremedously.

The concept of The Ruins was intriguing and oddly thrilling to me. I won't mention anything else about that because it might be spoilerish. Is that a word? If not, add it to the dictionary! The secrets and twists were pretty non stop through the whole book. I didn't see any of it coming.

I feel like there was a lot of different pieces to the puzzle that made up this book. I enjoyed that.

On the Scale of: Buy, Bargain, Borrow, Bud (audio) or Bust: I'd rate this one a BUY especially if you are into darker thrillers like me.

Thank you to Minotaur Books & Hannah Morrissey for an ARC of this book!

TW: child abuse, pedophillia, rape, loss of a spouse, murder

THANK YOU @stmartinspress, @hannahmorrisseywriter & @netgalley for the ARC of this book!

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Hannah Morrissey's debut novel (Hello, Transcriber) last year was a fantastic read and put Morrissey on my must read list. Her second novel, The Widowmaker, has just released.

While The Widowmaker is listed as a 'Black Harbor book', it can absolutely be read as a stand alone.

The setting is indeed the town of Black Harbor, a dark, dirty, unsettling, foreboding place to live and work. Getting out seems to be the prevailing thought of many of the residents. Morgan Mori is one of the few who have come back to Black Harbor. When Morgan, a photographer, is asked to document the Christmas celebrations of the wealthy Reynolds family, she really has no choice but to take the job. She's desperate for money. But there's something just 'off' with them.

Investigator Ryan Hudson is trying to make a difference in Black Harbor. He ends up with not one, but two cases - one current day and another from the past. Those of you who have read that first book will be interested to know that Investigator Nikolai Kole returns in this second entry.

Each and every character is the book is flawed, damaged or dangerous.

Morrissey's writing is unsettling most of the time, but addicting all the time. There's no way to predict where the plot is going to. I thought I had solved the cases, only to be proven wrong. (I love being proved wrong) Who is lying? Covering up? Keeping a secret? Who's the killer? Killers?

A gritty, dark tale that's another five star read for me from Morrissey.

Gentle readers - this may not be the book for you as there are many triggers in The Widowmaker.

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I was excited to read this one because of all the good reviews I had been seeing. After reading the book I wondered if we all read the same book.

Intriguing premise but it felt problematic to me. There were several characters whose actions did not feel true to the persona created by the author. Their actions felt like they were convenient to the way the author wanted the story to go. I felt meh about all the characters other than Hudson. I definitely really liked him. But even in saying that - I was left feeling that he could have been fleshed out better than he was.

On more than one occasion I marked phrases where I wondered, where the heck did that come from? LIke, "Her hands shook like she had Parkinson's as she struggled to turn the pages..." That felt really insensitive - the character was physically upset and it's compared to Parkinsons?. And this one, "He'd become less pathetic to her since she'd discovered Nan was the name of his dead wife and not his dead nana... Wait... what?!!

Please remember that this is one person's opinion. Take it with a grain of salt. The subject is grainy and could be super upsetting to some so be sure to check out the trigger warnings. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.

All in all, not a fit for me, but it was for many others so it definitely could be worth a closer look if you are a thriller lover. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC to read and review.

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