Title: Jar of Hearts
Author : Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: 06/12/18
This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .
When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.
But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.
To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.
For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.
While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.
How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?
★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆ ★ ☆
Wow. wow. wow.
I was not expecting this one to be as amazing as it was.
This was one of those novels that could not be more ‘up my alley’ if it tried. Since it is following the POV of Geo (both past and present) and Kaiser, you get this perfect little mash-up genre of psychological thriller with some touches of police procedural (since Kai is a cop who is investigating the case).
I had seen several of my blogging/reviewing friends comment on how the beginning of this novel reminded them of Orange is the New Black, and I found that to be a very spot-on comparison. In the early stages of the novel, Geo is serving her five years in prison and you get all of the prison drama that we all love from OITNB. But we are also exposed to all of the terrible things that women endure in prison (again.. just like in OITNB). I loved this part of the novel. I would have read an entire novel about Geo’s experiences in prison.
The depth of the characters was perfect and I loved how it flipped back and forth between Geo’s high school memories, the night of Angela’s murder, and present day. We spend the majority of the novel following Geo’s POV, but I also really loved those chapters that were sprinkled in that allowed us to get to know Kaiser a little better and get a little extra insight into the investigation.
Until the very end, you will be missing parts of Geo’s story. She makes that very clear in the first few chapters. As readers, we know we are not getting the entire truth.. and I was still just deeply chilled and shocked when I did discover the truth. So many twists in those last several chapters!!!
This novel also has some fantastic themes that you don’t always see in thrillers (although I cannot discuss them in my review, as they would be considered spoilers). And the symbolism of the jar of (candy) hearts was fantastic and I loved the depth that it added to the writing.
This will likely be on my top ten books of the year, simply because it was the perfect genre combination for me and was full of twists and turns and character-driven drama. I will definitely be looking into some of Hillier’s previous publications.
Trigger Warnings: Rape (Multiple), Murder, Gore (Mild), Death of a Child, Drugs, Violence, Domestic Abuse, Loss of Parent, Cancer, Themes of Grief, Loss of a Child
Thank you to Jennifer Hillier and Minotaur Books for providing me with a DRC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.