Kate’s Review: “Things We Do in the Dark”

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Book: “Things We Do in the Dark” by Jennifer Hillier

Publishing Info: Minotaur Books, July 2022

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an ARC from the publisher.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: When Paris Peralta is arrested in her own bathroom—covered in blood, holding a straight razor, her celebrity husband dead in the bathtub behind her—she knows she’ll be charged with murder. But as bad as this looks, it’s not what worries her the most. With the unwanted media attention now surrounding her, it’s only a matter of time before someone from her long hidden past recognizes her and destroys the new life she’s worked so hard to build, along with any chance of a future.

Twenty-five years earlier, Ruby Reyes, known as the Ice Queen, was convicted of a similar murder in a trial that riveted Canada in the early nineties. Reyes knows who Paris really is, and when she’s unexpectedly released from prison, she threatens to expose all of Paris’s secrets. Left with no other choice, Paris must finally confront the dark past she escaped, once and for all.

Because the only thing worse than a murder charge are two murder charges.

Things We Do in the Dark is a brilliant new thriller from Jennifer Hillier, the award-winning author of the breakout novels Little Secrets and Jar of Hearts. Paris Peralta is suspected of killing her celebrity husband, and her long-hidden past now threatens to destroy her future.

Review: Thank you to Minotaur Books for sending me an ARC of this novel!

Jennifer Hillier is an author whose novels always get under my skin because of how creepy and unsettling they are. Every year I am on the look out for news of a new book, and imagine how excited I was when Serena handed me some book mail and included was her new novel “Things We Do in the Dark”! While I’m always down for eARCs, print ARCs are just so satisfying to hold in my hand. I saved this one for my plane ride out to D.C., and boy, did I get sucked totally in.

Hillier has once again written a thriller that has a lot of twists and turns with complex build up, interesting characters, and explorations of darker themes that don’t bog down the story. We are dealing with two mysteries in this book, both involving our protagonist Paris Peralta. The first, and most obvious, is the death of her husband Jimmy, an aging comedian who was on the edge of a comeback. Paris was found in the bathroom next to his dead body, with a straight razor in her hand. The second is a bit more convoluted, as Paris has been receiving letter from a convicted murderer name Ruby Reyes, who is threatening to expose OTHER secrets from Paris’s past. It isn’t super clear as to how these two stories connect from the get go, but Hillier relies on the patience of her readers as she slowly starts to drop clues, give background, and introduce us to a whole cast of characters who have secrets, vendettas, painful memories, and regrets. We would jump from Paris’s murder charge, and then we’d go to learn more about Ruby Reyes and the horrible things that SHE did, mostly through the eyes of a podcaster who was friends with her deceased daughter Joey who, like Paris, doesn’t want her to get out on parole, though for different reasons. It takes time to understand how Paris connects to Ruby, but while the burn is slow the payoff is great, and every time I thought I had something figured out, I would realize that there were actually things that I had missed. IN terms of the two mysteries, Hillier balances them both and I liked both of them quite a lot, especially after they merged.

But what makes Hillier’s stories stand out from other thrillers is that she tackles some pretty dark themes without letting them overwhelm the story. Paris is a Filipino American whose race has been a factor that has led to whispers about her relationship with her husband, and she has tried to fit in within an upper class lifestyle in spite of the racism (and classism) she’s had to deal with her entire life. We also look into her past as a survivor of various things, and how her poverty stricken childhood within a dangerous and abusive home situation has made her strive to escape a dark past. Paris has issues, Paris has secrets, but she is always intriguing and compelling as she tries to clear her name… and to also keep her secrets at bay. With these dark elements, however, come content warnings, and I want to mention that there are moments of sexual abuse, parental abuse, and other intense subjects. Hillier is careful to make sure that it doesn’t get super graphic or super exploitative, but it’s just good to know.

I really liked “Things We Do in the Dark”. Hillier is a must read thriller author for me, hands down, and I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!

Rating 8: A thrilling novel about trauma, identity, and the secrets we keep.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Things We Do in the Dark” is included on the Goodreads list “Mystery and Thriller 2022”.

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