Review: Cackle by Rachel Harrison

“He fears me because he is small. I will not meet him there. I will not shrink myself down to his size, or anyone else’s, for their comfort. For their appeasement.”

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★★★★

Berkely Books | 2021

Filed Under: Feminist Witch Bitch Lit


Don’t let the synopsis and marketing for this book fool you. This is not horror. This is not a thriller. This is a cozy semi-mystery with Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic vibes and a feminist tilt.

While I might have been expecting horror initially, I adjusted my expectations and ended up really liking this. It’s fucking cute and reads like Rachel Harrison has found her writing niche with this novel.

I really liked Harrison’s first novel, The Return. That was definitely horror but with a heavy female-friendship theme that propelled the plot. Cackle follows in those footsteps, but abandons horror for delightful supernatural elements, like the friendly, top-hat-wearing spider that sleeps under a little blanket at night.

Cute Spider GIFs | Tenor
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Review: A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams

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★★★

Crooked Lane Books | 2021

Filed Under: A casserole that gets jail married to a serial killer and then does an episode of Dateline to explain why he’s actually innocent.


There are so many pieces of this novel that, individually, are dark and spooky and twisted and should have been captivating. But all those pieces put together in this way, in this particular narrative, just didn’t grab me by the literary bits like I was hoping it would.

When Heather Evans’ mother dies by suicide, she is left with a suicide note that doesn’t make much sense and a box full of letters from serial killer Michael Reeve, aka the Red Wolf.

No one ever truly knows another person because our inner lives are impossible to share. That coupled with how complicated it can be to know your parents outside of their roles as your parents, leaves Heather reeling.

Let’s be honest, if you found out your mom was besties with a serial killer who had hacked up some woman twenty years ago, you’d have a few fucking questions, too. And Heather, a journalist by trade (though currently disgraced,) has got some questions that she just can’t resist investigating. Who was her mother? Why was she so close to a serial killer? And I know Heather didn’t say it outright, but we’re all thinking it at some point – did her mother fuck a serial killer?

Reno 911 GIF by The Roku Channel
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Review: If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Bazier

“This is what ordinary people are like. They don’t want to be bothered. They don’t want to care. They would rather let a few people disappear, a few families suffer and never recover, than ruin everybody’s vacation.”

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★★★

Berkley | 2021

Filed Under: Two shakes away from Texas Chainsaw


Well, this was fucking weird.

I don’t know if this review is going to make any sense at all, because I’m still not sure how I really feel about this novel. So, uh, good luck reading my stoned thoughts.

First of all, the main character, Sera, is wildly unstable. Like, break into Sandra Bullock’s home and get into her bed unstable. Like, John Hinckley unstable. Did I enjoy being in the head of a character like that? Fucking no! But was it captivating, very yes. And fucking uncomfortable the whole time. Sera is so unlikable, watching her exist was akin to an embarrassing American Idol audition.

Disgusted Mothers Day GIF by reactionseditor
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Review: Finlay Donovan is Killing It (Finlay Donovan, #1) by Elle Cosimano

“And to think you were worried about a damn shower curtain. Nothing says ‘serial killer’ like a chest freezer in a garage.”

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★★★★★

Minotaur Books | 2021

Filed Under: Contract killer is yoga pants


This must be the year where I just can’t take anymore terrible shitty shitty shit, that all of my favourite things have become fun, light, optimistic good times. I’m as shocked as you are, I’ll creep it real.

I did not see this shift in my life coming, I just know it’s here so I’m leaning into it. If we want to get all therapy-lite about it, I definitely know it’s a response to these COVID times.

I’ve had it up to my double chin with this planet, so all the things that have lit my feelings on fire in 2021 have been good good stuff, you know?

For the last couple months, there hasn’t been a true-crime doc or horror movie insight. I’ve rewatched Notting Hill and You’ve Got Mail like half a dozen times.

Ted Lasso? I am fucking IN LOVE with him. I wait for Friday nights like a child waiting for Saturday morning cartoons. Not because I’m excited for the weekend, but because I need me some Lasso sweetness and Roy Kent grunts. Simple as that.

And when it comes to books? Finlay Donovan is Killing It might just be my favourite read of 2021 (so far – it’s only September, so who knows what the end of the year will bring.) Trust me when I tell you, I was not fucking expecting that when I borrow this from the library, but here we are.

What Is Happening Whats Going On GIF by A24
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Review: Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1) by Tessa Wegert

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★★★★

Berkley | 2020

Filed Under: “Everything all right?” / “Yep, two corpses, everything’s fine.”


If you are looking for a modern Agatha Christie/Clue style locked-room mystery, may I suggest this fucking book to you?

Because I’m gonna.

This novel is such a throwback and I ended up liking it a lot… once I got past my assumptions of what the novel was going to be.

Apparently, it’s very easy for me to get used to the vibe of those fast-paced thrillers that are constantly trying to outdo the previous new release with twists and shocks. Read enough of them and I guess I can forget about the beauty in a subtle, classic mystery. Death in the Family was a needed reminder for me.

When I first started this, the tone and pace weren’t working for me. But that’s because I’m a stupid bitch. And almost immediately I realized I was looking for that other kind of thriller in the writing, which is actually really shit of me. Obviously, I need to switch up my current genre choices because it’s clouding how open I am when I start a new book.

I mean, not to get too fucking deep about it, but yeah…

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Review: When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain

“What is all the suffering for if not so we can see how alike we are, and not alone? Where will the mercy come from, if not from us?”

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★★★★

Ballantine Books | 2021

Filed Under: Hello darkness, my old friend


Well, I tell you what, if you’re in an emotional funk or mentally teetering on the edge of another bout of panny depression, do not read this book for the love of Thor and Loki’s butts in those toit-like-a-tiger outfits. Because this novel is sad, bitch.

I needed a nap and some serotonin by the time I was finished with it.

Detective Anna Hart is going through a hard time. She’s lost a child, lost herself and is about to lose her marriage. Hart decides the only way she might be able to find some perspective and some healing is if she leaves her current situation behind. She needs space to get herself together if there is any chance of moving past her grief and keeping her family.

She leaves San Fran for the small, country town of Mendocino, California where she grew up. Her dark present is about to compete with the tortured ghosts of her past in Mendocino. I mean, honestly, someone take this woman to an amusement park for the day. Just give her a reprieve from trauma. Everywhere you look with her it’s like dead parents, abandonment issues, dead foster parents, dead child, broken marriage, dead high school friends…

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a novel where one character was getting all of the dark shit, all of the time.

Drunk Season 1 GIF by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
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Review: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley, #1) by Nadine Matheson

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★★★★½

Hanover Square Press | 2021

Filed Under: Hello, Clarice…


I haven’t read a police procedural this pure and detailed since Meg Gardiner’s last release. And y’all know how much I love Meg Gardiner. And if you didn’t, now you do because I just said it again.

If you are a fan of serial killers… wait, I don’t mean like a fan fan. That’s just weird. Get better idols, as Bailey Sarian would say. No, I mean if you are a fan of serial killer fiction – of the mystery and the pursuit and the suspense and the twisted games – then you want to read this novel.

It is a fucking fabulous police procedural. And I don’t say shit like that very often.

You want gritty? You got it. You want fucked up? It’s coming in hot. You need detailed and immersive? Buckle your seatbelt and keep your hands in the ride at all times.

But listen to what I’m saying, this is a procedural. If you do not like being in the narrative passenger seat of a police investigation, this probably isn’t going to be for you. And that’s totally legit. Why? Because all of this shit is subjective, Donna! It’s okay that we don’t all like the same things! That’s life.

Jimmy Fallon Oops GIF by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Let’s get that through our collective skulls, shall we? But I digress…

This is not a thriller. This is an investigation. And in my opinion, novels that pull off a really good procedural plot with this much perfection are few and far between. And it’s a debut novel? Fucking insanity.

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Review: Blood Parish by E.J. Findorff

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★★★

Neutral Ground Publishing | 2021

Filed Under: Benny might think I’m a rat.


To be fair, I’m not really into mob shit. I’m not sure why – that’s a lie. I am sure why, but I would never dare to go off on the mob online where my identity is easily determined lest I end up in cement shoes, swimming with the fishes or whatever it is the mob does to you. Shoot you in the head and stuff you in a trunk and leave the car down by the docks? What docks? Any docks really.

But, for sure, organized crime stories are just not my thing.

Did you ever see that episode of Family Guy where everyone finds out Peter doesn’t like The Godfather and they are all flabbergasted? Their house is flooding but they can only talk about Peter not liking The Godfather.

Peter says, “It insists upon itself.”

And that’s basically it. I am Peter in this. Like, Oh, tough guys doing tough guy shit outside the law, killing people and controlling all the unions and all dressing the same. Where’s my gold chain?

But also please don’t kill me, mob people reading this.

That said, this novel is fine. So, let’s keep some perspective here between you knowing I’m a terrible person and that it takes a lot for me to give four and five stars. It is what it is. Meatballs.

Angel Blondeaux is an FBI agent who just so happens to come from a mob family. They’ve disowned her, because duh. You can’t have an FBI agent in a mob family. The Blondeaux et al clan run a Louisiana parish. They own the cops, the lawyers, fucking everyone is on the payroll, so good luck doing anything legit or fair or legal. But also, is that so bad? Are we really doing law and order well? LOL NO. Unless you’re Dick Wolf, then yes. But we don’t have time to get into all that…

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Review: Dark August by Katie Tallo

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★★★½

HarperCollins | 2020

Filed Under: A Polite Canadian


I normally wouldn’t pick up a book like this because it’s thicc and sounds more like a contemporary with hints of suspense, but it’s set around my hometown in Niagara, Ontario so how and why would I pass up reading that? Obviously, I wouldn’t because here we are.

Do you know how many books are based in the Niagara area? Like, one. This one. Why? Because let’s get real, Niagara isn’t a thriving metropolis.

Maybe it used to be, but by the time I left most areas had nicknames like “the armpit of Niagara” or “the butthole of Niagara.”

Where did I live? The fucking taint. 

Like a taint, this novel is dark and gloomy; a family mystery wrapped around some community politics.

Augusta “Gus” Monet is basically a poor, aimless girl with little to her name and an abusive, shady AF boyfriend. When her grandmother dies, Gus comes into a little (seriously, very little) inheritance in the form of her grandmother’s house and whatever is inside of it, including an old dog named Levi. And the dog is honestly the best part of the whole novel, but I did spend a lot of time being paranoid something terrible was going to happen to him. If you’re the kind of person (like me) who needs to know if the dog dies going into a story, let me know and I’ll totally spoil it for you, no questions asked.

GIF by CallMeKatFOX
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Review: The Little Sleep (Mark Genevich, #1) by Paul Tremblay

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★★½

Holt McDougal | 2009

Filed Under: A Narcoleptic Fever Dream


I’ve tried a couple of times, with different authors, to read this kind of hard-boiled, noir private detective story and… it’s just not for me.

That’s putting it nicely, which is unusual for me.

So, to put it not so nicely, I think this particular genre is supposed to come across as classic, intense and pulpy serious. The private dick is a man of the streets and a man of law. He’s balancing his day-to-day life against the seedy underbelly he’s wrapped up in as he seeks justice and upholds the law by sometimes playing outside of its lines. Ugh, so gritty and dark.

But to me, it’s fucking goofy as hell.

All I can think about it “Fast Talking High Trousers.”

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You can’t tell me I’m wrong! You can’t!

But supposing I was…

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