Review: It Takes One (Audrey Harte, #1) by Kate Kessler

“Doing a bad thing doesn’t make you a bad person. People do bad things for the right reasons all the time.”

28098777★★★★½

Opening Hook: Better classified as a “meltdown”

Main Character: Small town child murderer

Plot Twisty-ness: The definition of twisty


Audrey Hart left Edgeport years ago after being released from the local juvie, Stillwater, for killing her best friend, Maggie’s, father when they were teenagers. She doesn’t regret it for a second – Maggie’s father was a daughter-raping piece of shit, and killing him – and the consequences that followed – have made Audrey who she is today: a successful child psychologist and contributor to a true crime tv show, Kids Who Kill.

When Audrey gets a call to return home to Edgeport, she’s dreading it. The whispers, the glances – all eyes are always on her whenever she’s in town. That is certainly true when Audrey walks into the local watering hole to pick up her drunk-ass father and Maggie spots her. They speak for the first time in years and it’s not friendly. Audrey gets mean, Maggie gets nasty, gets pushed onto her ass and Audrey storms off. The next morning Maggie is dead on the beach and Audrey is a suspect. 

So begins all the twisted, romantic, dramatic events that will lead to the disturbing and twisted discovery of just what exactly happened to Maggie. And when I say twisted, I mean twisted. There is so much history to unravel, so many secrets and lies to uncover, that while there aren’t necessarily many “thrilling” or “dangerous” moments, you are totally engaged the whole time.

There are just so many elements of this novel that I loved.

The small coastal town setting, the town history and complicated relationships, the tough, yet delicate honesty of the damaged heroine, the realness of the romance and the darkness to the crimes.

It was enthralling.

I found Audrey, though technically a murderer with a chip on her shoulder, to be really likable and easy to root for. She seemed inherently good and fiercely loyal and wonderfully self-aware. Then there was Jake – her longtime childhood friend and current complicated relationship. Their romance was adorable and believable, nothing cheesy or cliche or easy or unrealistic. I could get behind it, even though I’m not usually one for too much romance in my novel choices. But Jake was sexy and rugged and had some nefarious dealings that were hinted at, just giving him enough mystery and edge to make his presence worthwhile.

Besides Jake, there is a whole cast of very robust secondary characters. Audrey’s family, Jake’s family, and just enough fleshed out townsfolk – drunks, abusive assholes, gossips, deviants and delinquents – to drive the main question “who killed Maggie?” without giving anything away until the author wanted to.

Though I have to admit, at some point I stopped caring so much about who killed Maggie and was more interested in why. Because Maggie was a straight-up bitch, and she had a habit of ruining lives and pissing people off, getting innocents involved in her perpetual drama. It wasn’t surprising someone eventually offed her, but the reasons why someone would were plentiful and kept me glued to the long style chapters.

I loved the crisp writing style, the pace, the realism and personal drama that jumped off the page. The dialogue was genuine, the characters seemed like people you could meet and the setting, a place you could be.

Just one downside to effect my rating: Maggie’s personal mental health went off the rails. Most of her pathology was totally understandable, but when you start getting into dissociative personality disorder I kind of do this:

Other than that, this is a series I will keep myself involved in. Loved Audrey, loved her dark past and all the potential for her future. This is not a classic mystery novel and can take a little bit to get into, maybe if that’s what you’re expecting. But, if you’re the kind of reader who finds themselves engaged in a novel’s personal drama and secrets, I definitely recommend this.

🔪🔪🔪

book source: Redhook Books via NetGalley in exchange for a review.

*migrated review, originally posted to Goodreads in February 2017

Back of the Book:

They say there are no secrets in a small town…

Criminal psychologist Audrey Harte is returning home after seven years. She’ll have to face the whispers and the rumors that have haunted her family since she left. Because when Audrey was thirteen, she and her best friend Maggie killed Maggie’s abusive father. 

Her first night back in town ends in a fight with a drunken Maggie, with her old crush Jake to witness it all. Audrey can’t believe it can get worse. Then Maggie turns up dead.

Now, Audrey has to find out who the murderer is – before everyone decides that she is to blame. And before the murderer can set their sights on her.

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