"Jar of Hearts grabs you by the throat! The perfect blend of riveting characters, chilling details, and gasping twists in this standout thriller will keep you frantically reading until the explosive end.” – Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author of Right Behind You
• A Top 10 bestseller (CrimeReads) • A June 2018 LibraryReads pick •
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 Wongone of the most popular girls in schooldisappeared 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 Kaisernow a detective with Seattle PDfinally 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? Find out in Jennifer Hillier's Jar of Hearts.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
JENNIFER HILLIER was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, lived in the Seattle area for years, and has just moved back to Toronto with her husband and son.
Jennifer is the author of Wonderland, Creep, and Jar of Hearts.
Read an Excerpt
The trial has barely made a dent in the national news. Which is good, because it means less publicity, fewer reporters. But it's also bad, because just how depraved do crimes have to be nowadays to garner national headlines?
Pretty fucking bad, it seems.
There's only a brief mention of Calvin James, a.k.a. the Sweetbay Strangler, in the New York Times and on CNN, and his crimes aren't quite sensational enough to be featured in People magazine or be talked about on The View. But for Pacific Northwesters — people in Washington state, Idaho, and Oregon — the trial of the Sweetbay Strangler is a big deal. The disappearance of Angela Wong fourteen years ago caused a noticeable ripple throughout the Seattle area, as Angela's father is a bigwig at Microsoft and a friend of Bill Gates. There were search parties, interviews, a monetary reward that increased with each passing day she didn't come home. The discovery of the sixteen-year-old's remains all these years later — only a half mile away from her house — sent shockwaves through the community. The locals remember. #JusticeForAngela was trending on Twitter this morning. It was the ninth or tenth most popular hashtag for only about three hours, but still.
Angela's parents are present in court. They divorced a year after their daughter was reported missing, her disappearance the last thread in a marriage that had been unraveling for a decade. They sit side by side now, a few rows back from the prosecutor's table, with their current spouses, united in their grief and desire to see justice served.
Georgina Shaw can't bring herself to make eye contact with them. Seeing their faces, etched with equal parts heartache and fury, is the worst part of this whole thing. She could have spared them fourteen years of sleepless nights. She could have told them what happened the night it actually happened.
Geo could have done a lot of things.
Angela's mother was a shallow, materialistic woman fourteen years ago, more concerned with her country-club status than checking up on her teenage daughter. Her father wasn't much better, a workaholic who preferred to play golf and poker on the weekends rather than spend time with his family. Until Angela went missing. Then they banded together, only to fall apart. They reacted to her disappearance the way any normal, loving parents would. They became vulnerable. Emotional. Geo almost doesn't recognize Candace Wong, now Candace Platten. She's gained twenty pounds on a frame that used to be impossibly thin, but the extra weight makes her look healthier. Victor Wong looks more or less the same, with a slightly larger paunch and a lot less hair.
Geo spent a good chunk of her childhood at
Angela's house, eating take-out pizza in their kitchen, sleeping over countless times when her father worked nights in the ER at the hospital. She embraced the Wongs during the days when their only child didn't come home, offering them reassurances that their daughter would be found, giving them answers that made them feel better, but were far from truthful. The Wongs were invited to the St. Martin's High School graduation, where they received a special award on behalf of Angela, who'd been captain of the cheerleading squad, a star volleyball player, and an honor student. And every year after high school, wherever she was in the world, Candace Wong Platten mailed Geo a Christmas card. A dozen cards, all signed the same way. Love, Angie's mom.
They hate her now. Angela's parents haven't taken their eyes off Geo since she entered the courtroom. Neither has the jury, now that she's seated in the witness box.
Geo is prepared for the questions, and she answers them as she's practiced, keeping her eyes fixed on a random spot at the back of the courtroom as she testifies. The assistant district attorney has prepped her well for this day, and in a lot of ways it seems like she's just here to shed light on the events of that night, to add drama and color to the trial. Otherwise, the ADA's case seems like a slam dunk. They have more than enough evidence to convict Calvin James on three other murders that happened long after Angela's, but Geo is only here to talk about the night her best friend died. It's the only murder she's been involved in, and once her testimony is given, she'll be shipped to Hazelwood Correctional Institute to begin serving her five-year sentence.
Five years. It's both a nightmare and a gift, the result of a savvy plea deal by her fancy high-priced lawyer and the pressure on the district attorney to get the Sweetbay Strangler put away. The public is screaming for the death penalty for the serial killer, but it won't happen. Not in a city as defiantly liberal as Seattle. The ADA has a good shot at consecutive life sentences for Calvin James, so in contrast, Geo's five-year sentence isn't nearly long enough, according to some of the #JusticeForAngela comments on social media. Geo will still be young when she's released, with plenty of time to start over. She can still get married, have children, have a life.
In theory, anyway.
She chances a glance over at Andrew, seated stoically beside her father in the third row from the back. He's the reason she looks nice today; he had her favorite Dior dress and Louboutin pumps brought to her that morning. Their eyes meet. Andrew offers her a small smile of encouragement, and it warms her a little, but she knows it won't last.
Her fiancé doesn't know what she's done. He'll soon find out. Geo looks down at her hands, folded neatly in her lap. Her diamond engagement ring, a three-carat oval with an additional carat of smaller diamonds encircling the center stone, is still on her finger. For now. Andrew Shipp has impeccable taste. Of course he does; it comes from good breeding, an important family name, and a big bank account. After he ends it — which of course he will, because the only thing that matters more to him than Geo is his family's company — she'll give the ring back.
Of course she will. It's the right thing to do.
A poster-size photo of Angela is mounted on an easel facing the jury. Geo remembers the day that photo was taken, a few weeks after their junior year started at St. Martin's High School. Geo has the full version of the photo somewhere at home, where the two best friends are standing side by side at the Puyallup Fair (now renamed the Washington State Fair) — Geo with a cloud of blue cotton candy in her hand, and Angela with a rapidly melting ice cream cone. The photo, now enlarged with Geo cropped out of it, is a close-up of Angela laughing, the sun beaming down on her hair, her brown eyes sparkling. A beautiful girl on a beautiful day, with the world at her feet.
Beside that photo, on a separate easel, is another poster-size enlargement. It shows Angela's remains, which were found in the woods behind Geo's childhood home. Just a pile of bones in the dirt, and anyone would agree that you could see a lot worse on TV. The only difference is, the bones in this photo are real, belonging to a girl who died much too young and much too violently for anyone to comprehend.
The prosecutor continues to ask questions, painting a picture for the jury of Angela Wong through Geo's eyes. She continues to answer them, not adding any more detail than is necessary. Her voice carries through the small courtroom speakers, and she sounds calmer than she feels. Her profound sadness — which she's carried with her every day of her life since Angela's murder — seems diluted in her quest to speak clearly and articulately.
Calvin watches her closely from the defendant's table as she speaks, his gaze penetrating right through her. It's like being violated all over again. Geo tells the court about their relationship back then, when they were boyfriend and girlfriend, when he was still Calvin and not yet the Sweetbay Strangler, when she was just sixteen and thought they were in love. She recounts the abuse, both verbal and physical, telling the enthralled courtroom spectators about Calvin's obsessive and controlling nature. She describes her fear and confusion, things she's never discussed with anyone before, not even Angela, and certainly not her father. Things that for years were packed away in a mental lockbox, stored in a corner of her mind that she never allowed herself to visit.
If they gave degrees for compartmentalizing, Geo would have a Ph.D.
"Years later, when you saw the news reports, did you put it together that Calvin James was the Sweetbay Strangler?" the ADA asks her.
Geo shakes her head. "I never watched the news. I'd heard a little something about it from my father, since he still lives in Sweetbay, but I never made the connection. I suppose I wasn't paying attention."
This part is true, and when she glances over at Calvin, the corners of his mouth are raised just a millimeter. A tiny smile. Her old boyfriend was handsome at twenty-one, nobody would disagree with that. But today, at thirty-five, he looks like a movie star. His face is fuller and more chiseled, his hair tousled in perfect McDreamy waves, the speck of gray in his sideburns and the lines around his eyes only adding to his appeal. He sits easily in his seat, dressed in a simple suit and tie, scribbling notes on a yellow pad of paper. The tiny smile hasn't left his face since Geo entered the courtroom. She suspects she's the only one who can see it. She suspects it's meant for her.
When their eyes meet, a tingle goes through her. That goddamned tingle, even now, even after everything. From the first day they met to the last day she saw him, that tingle has never gone away. She's never felt anything like it before, or since. Not even with Andrew. Especially not with Andrew. Her fiancé — assuming he could still be called that, since the wedding planned for next summer isn't going to happen — never inspired that feeling.
Her hands remain in her lap, and she twists her ring around, feeling the weight of it, the security of it. It was symbolic when Andrew gave it to her, not just of her promise to marry him, but also of the life she'd built. Undergraduate degree at Puget Sound State University. MBA from the University of Washington. At thirty, the youngest vice president at Shipp Pharmaceuticals. So what if some of her career success is because she got engaged to Andrew Shipp, the CEO and heir to the throne? The rest of it is because she's worked her goddamned ass off.
No matter. That life is gone now.
On the one hand, she knows she's gotten off easy. Her fancy lawyer was worth every penny Andrew paid him. But on the other hand, five fucking years. In prison, nobody will care that she was educated or successful on the outside, that up till her arrest she was earning a mid-six-figure salary (including bonus), and that she was about to become part of one of Seattle's oldest and most elite families. When she gets out — assuming she survives prison and doesn't get shanked in the shower — she'll have a criminal record. A felony. She'll never be able to get a regular job. Anytime anyone googles her name, the Sweetbay Strangler case will come up, because nothing on the internet ever dies. She'll have to start her life completely over again. But not from the bottom, lower than the bottom, clawing her way out of the hole she dug herself into.
She continues to speak clearly and succinctly, recounting the events of that terrible night. The jury and spectators listen with rapt attention. Keeping her gaze focused on that random spot at the back of the courtroom, she describes it all. The football after party at Chad Fenton's house. The barrel of fruit punch, so spiked with vodka that spiked didn't seem like the right word for it. She and Angela leaving the party early, the two of them giggling and stumbling over to Calvin's place in their skimpy dresses, completely drunk. The pulsing music from Calvin's stereo. Angela dancing. Angela flirting. Drinking some more, the world spinning, turning into a kaleidoscope of dizzying shapes and colors until Geo finally passed out.
Then, sometime later, the car ride back to Geo's house, Calvin driving, Angela folded into the trunk of the car. The long trek into the woods, guided only by a dim miniflashlight attached to Calvin's keychain. The cool night air. The smell of the trees. The thickness of the soil. The sound of crying. Geo's dress, dirty, covered in earth and grass and blood.
"You didn't actually see Calvin James cut up her body?" the prosecutor presses. Geo winces. He's trying to put the spotlight on Angela's dismemberment, trying to make it sound as horrific as possible, even though her best friend was already dead by then, which was horrific enough.
"I didn't watch him do it, no," she answers. She doesn't look at Calvin when she says this. She can't.
"What did he use?"
"A saw. From the shed in the backyard."
"Your father's saw?"
"Yes." She closes her eyes. She can still see the flash of steel when Calvin holds it up in the moonlight. The wood handle, the jagged teeth. Later, it would be covered in blood, skin, and hair. "The ground was too ... there were too many rocks. We couldn't dig a large enough hole for ... for ... all of her."
There's a movement in the courtroom. A rustling, and then a low murmur. Andrew Shipp has stood up. He looks at Geo; their eyes meet. He nods to her, an apologetic tilt of his head, and then her fiancé makes his way out of the courtroom, disappearing behind the heavy doors at the back.
It's possible she'll never see him again. It hurts more than she thought it would. On her lap, she twists the ring furiously for a few seconds, then mentally tucks the pain away for another time.
Walter Shaw, now with an empty place beside him, doesn't move. Geo's father isn't known for being an emotionally expressive man, and the only evidence of his true feelings is the lone tear running down his face. He's never heard this story before, either, and she won't blame him if he follows Andrew out the door. But her father doesn't leave. Thank god.
"How long did it take? To cut her up?" the prosecutor is asking.
"A while," Geo says softly. A sob emanates from the center of the room. Candace Wong Platten's shoulders shake, and her ex-husband puts an arm around her, though it's clear he's about to lose it, too. Their current spouses sit in silent horror, unsure how to react, not knowing what to do. It's not their daughter, not their loss, but they feel it all the same. "It felt like it took a long time."
Everyone's eyes are on her. Calvin's eyes are on her. Slowly, Geo shifts her gaze until their eyes finally meet. For the first time since she's arrived at the courtroom, she holds eye contact. Almost imperceptibly, in a tiny movement only she can pick up on because she's watching for it, he nods. She averts her gaze and refocuses her attention on the prosecutor, who pauses to take a sip of water.
"So you left her there," the assistant district attorney says, walking back toward the witness box. "And then you went on with your life like it never happened. You lied to the cops. You lied to her parents. You let them suffer for fourteen years, not knowing what happened to their only child."
He stops. Makes a show of looking right at Geo, and then at Calvin, and then at the jurors. When he speaks again, his voice is a few decibels above a whisper, so that everyone in the courtroom has to strain to hear him. "You left your best friend buried in the woods, a mere hundred yards from the house you lived in, after your boyfriend cut her up into pieces."
"Yes," she says, closing her eyes again. She knows how terrible it sounds, because she knows how terrible it was. But the tears won't come. She doesn't have any left.
Someone in the courtroom is crying softly. More like a whimper, really. Angela's mother's chest is heaving, her face in her hands, her bright red nail polish visibly chipped even from where Geo is seated. Beside her, Victor Wong is not crying. But as he reaches into the breast pocket of his suit to pull out a handkerchief to give to his ex-wife, his hands tremble violently.
The prosecutor has no further questions. The judge calls a recess for lunch. The jurors file out, and the spectators in the courtroom stand up and stretch. Phone calls are made. Reporters type furiously into laptops. The bailiff helps Geo out of the witness box, and she walks slowly past the defense table where Calvin is seated. He rises and grabs her hand as she passes, stopping her momentarily.
"It's good to see you," he says. "Even under the circumstances."
Their faces are inches away. His eyes are exactly as she remembers, vivid green, with the same touch of gold encircling the pupils. She sees those eyes in her dreams sometimes, hears his voice, feels his hands on her body, and she's woken up more than a few times covered in her own sweat. But now here he is, real as ever.
She says nothing, because there's nothing to say, not with everyone around watching them, listening. She extracts her hand. The bailiff nudges her forward.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Jar of Hearts"
Copyright © 2018 Jennifer Hillier.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part One: Denial,
Part Two: Anger,
Part Three: Bargaining,
Part Four: Depression,
Part Five: Acceptance,
Also by Jennifer Hillier,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Couldn’t put it down and it’s the first one I can say that about in a really long time. Please read it you won’t be disappointed.
I've read all ofJennifer's books and they are all wondeful!! This is definately my favorite!!!
Highly recommend, great story, characters and page turner. Female Stephen King.
Since this an adult book, I'm not sure I would've given this another thought if it hadn't worked in a library. But this book has not stopped getting checked out since it came out, so I had to know what it was that was getting people so hooked on this. And I was not disappointed. In high school Geo never thought that meeting her first love would also come with making the worst mistake of her life, but it did. her best friend was killed and her boyfriend was the person behind it. Geo knew what he did and decided to do nothing. Now years later, Geo is arrested and sent to prison. But there's so much more going on than what she thought. The storytelling in this one wasn't my favorite, but it was ok. Geo kept flashing back and forth between the past and present and that made it hard to follow. Especially since I was listening to this... While driving. I had to rewind it several times to be able to concentrate a little harder. But it was still enough for me to fall for the book. I also liked the plot twist at the end. I had all these theories, but as soon as the one thing was introduced, it opened up the plot to so many other things. And as it evolved, it got stranger and stranger. And then when the ending came up, I said "WTF" out loud in my car to no one. But then it began to get all over the place. I was not happy with the way the author chose to tie up the loose ends. I mean, how did that person know about the others? Some of the things she chose just didn't make sense to me. And then when that other person decided to still be with the other person? Yeah it didn't make sense to me. I just don't see how that happened the way it did. This book was up and down for me. I'm not sure I would recommend it with my favorite adult thrillers, however I would still say it was ok if asked directly about it.
In every story, there’s a hero and villain. Sometimes one person can be both. The last sentence of cup 21 and could have been the opening line of the book. So profound are these words. This page turner of a story was was like taking a drive. Starting straight, having you think you can see the story laid out in front of you then coming up on breathtaking curves that leave you leaning to one side as they are so unexpected. At times moving so fast you feel like you are flying through trying to take it all in only to have your speed reduced to a crawl while you experience heartbreak alongside the character in a moment that feels like is frozen in time. This is my first time reading this author. The way she unfolds her tale around you is a joy to behold. She is definitely on my reading list now!
Am sorry I bought this book. Abandoned reading it halfway through. Am not entertained, edified or inspired by crude, disgusting material. Zero stars.
Georgina Shaw, Angela Wong and Kaiser Brody are best friends in high school until one of them disappears. One of them goes on with their life and becomes a successful executive, another becomes a detective. For fourteen years no one knows what happened to the friend that disappeared until the body is discovered. Life gets turned upside down for the two that remain The story goes back and forth from the past to the present. It is extremely well written and is a gripping story that you can’t put down. I read this book in one day. I couldn’t put it down. The twists and turns kept me riveted to the story and I couldn’t wait to get to the end. I highly recommend this book and plan on going back and reading Jennifer Hiller’s other titles.
Holy Moly, this has to be one of my favorite thriller reads that I read so far this year! You have this story starting out with the arrest of Georgina for the murder of her best friend Angela, you knew then that this was gonna be a good story. But as we go through time and get a different characters point of view of things throughout the entire book, it all starts adding up to that horrible night when Angela was murdered. I could have never imagined on how this book was going to end but let me tell you, that ending had me breathless for what was happening and what secrets were finally revealed. To this day, I'm still thinking about that ending and how twisted it was to ended like that but I loved that the most about this book. This Author knows how to real a reader in so well that it's completely shocking at what is happening but it keeps you wanting more! I'm not gonna lie, there will be some bloody moments but don't let that deter you in finishing this book, it's well worth the gore to get to that ending! Thank You to Jennifer Hillier for this amazing thriller of a ride that makes me want to read every single one of your books!! I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley!
Thank you NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, Minotaur Books, and Jennifer Hillier for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review! I really enjoyed this book! There were a couple of twists that you don't see coming. This was a heartbreaking story that weaves a tale of how far you would go to help those that you love. There are several points of view throughout the book and the characters are well developed. This book kept me on my toes and I read it pretty quickly. I would recommend to anyone that enjoys a good thriller/suspenseful novel. Trigger warning: rape, death (pretty intense descriptions)
The synopsis gives you all the details you need to know about the book. As for my personal thoughts, I can give you this: I couldn’t connect to any of the characters, although Geo’s experiences made my quite sympathetic to her situation. Also, I felt that most of the violence in the book was gratuitous and the twists weren't so amazing, but rather predictable. I think this can be quite a good read for a metro/bus/train/airplane ride.
Wow, what a dark and twisty ride this one was! Jennifer Hillier slowly exposes this story of murders past and present by switching back and forth between the present and the past. Is there a plot hole or two? Probably, but I’m okay with that because the overall story was so interesting and so well-told. Hillier gives just enough clues to give the reader an inkling of what may have happened in the past, and what’s happening in the present, yet also pulls off a big surprise or two. Overall, one of my most enjoyable reads in 2018. Thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books who provided a copy for an unbiased review.
This book was so good!! I felt all of Geo's emotions, this author is new to me and I can't stop reading her books. They all have the "omg" factor to the .
I loved this book! Did not want to put it down. Lot of twists!!!
Oh my! I was extremely excited and very much looking forward to reading this highly anticipated book after seeing some fabulous reviews for it. I can more than happily confirm that after I'd finished reading, it was everything I had expected and MORE! Frighteningly vivid and so tense there were times I didn't realise I was holding my breath, I was so immersed in the moments and the well developed characters. It truly felt as though I was actually standing in the story viewing it as a spectator. Such a professionally written and polished story with an intense clarity to detail, it really did make for a sick, twisted and utterly compelling novel. The women's prison scenes at the start were truly scary and certainly had me on the edge of my seat. "Jar of Hearts" is told between the present day and the past as it actually happened and although I did start to work out the twist towards the last quarter of the book this didn't effect my enjoyment of the story as I was hooked into still seeing how it all came together at the end. And what an ending! I haven't read any of Jennifer Hillier's other books but I am now very keen to read more by her because if they are anything like this one, then they will be fabulous too! A word of warning though - there is a continuous flow of sensitive and explicit scenes throughout, very much needed for the telling of the whole story, so therefore if you are easily offended or squeamish then this sadly may not be for you. Fast paced, creepy, twisted, dark, gruesome, stomach churning, enthralling, addictive etc etc etc I could go on! I SO LOVED this book, it was everything I seek in a serial killing thriller and I will be certainly be putting this book in my top ten possibly even my top five for 2018!! A fabulous 5 stars and more!
Although I have become relatively jaded to this genre of novel, I found that I really enjoyed this tale and got sucked right in to the story from the off. I think that it helped that we start the tale almost halfway through, the past is dealt with not in a flashback form that has become prolific but rather in the thoughts of the main character as she struggles to come to terms with her life as it is now. Georgina appears to have everything, a stellar career, a wealthy fiance and all the material possessions she could want. Outward appearences are deceptive though and a dark secret from her past constantly shadows her days. When she is arrested at an important board meeting by a school days friend her life begins to unravel and those far off days of being 16 again are at the fore-front of her mind; especially now she seems to have been involved with the murders committed by the Sweetbay Strangler. We start with the trial of Calvin, the aforementioned murderer, and the deal done by Geo's lawyers to get her 5 years in prison in exchange for her testimony. The story putters along quite nicely as we follow her through those 5 years in prison, the friendships she makes there and the sheer regimented horror of the days. Even the more gruesome aspects are dealt with in such a matter of fact way that they feel neither gratuitous or voyeuristic; they also give you an insight in to the person Geo pretended to be on the outside and on the inside juxtaposed against her real personality. The plot is well conceived and has plenty of twists, turns and red herrings to keep you guessing. Unfortunately, the final denouement was spoilt slightly by the perpretrator of the new murders being flagged up a little too obviously (at least to me). The subtle shifting of focus from present day to the past is done well and usually through the form of memories rather then flashback chapters. This does make you doubt what you read as you can never be sure just how reliable a narrator Geo is. Although, she never fails to show herself in a less than flattering light maybe this is all just self-deprecation to get us on her side. The peripheral characters are believable and rotate in and out of her life ina naturalistic fashion. I particularly enjoyed the backwards and forwards between Kaiser and Geo and their relationship felt realistic; to a point. Even with their history I am not convinced that a member of law enforcement would be so eager to associate with an ex-con. The writing was free flowing and I feel like the author really brought Geo's voice to the page. It never felt constricted or contrived to show off a literary turn of phrase, it just felt like a master storyteller entertaining us by making us believe the fictional people were real. There is a lot of sub-text here and it is so well stitched together that you just go with it and allow the plotlines to consume you as you wonder how they fit together. This is certainly an excellent example of the genre and one I would not hesitate to recommend. Even if you think you have read more than enough of murder and detective work this one serves to intrigue and does have a genuinely fresh spin for you to enjoy. I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK FROM READERS FIRST IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW.
Jar of Hearts was just as dark and twisted as the above summary sounds! It was also a compelling thriller that I couldn't stop reading! This is only the second book by Hillier that I've read but I am truly hooked on her books at this point. She is fast becoming a must read author for me thanks to how much I enjoyed both of her books that I've read so far. One of the things that really has stood out to me while reading both of her books is how completely fearless she is when it comes to her writing choices. She isn't afraid to make choices for her characters and plot lines that I just don't feel like many other authors would take. It makes for such a fascinating read because as the reader I just never know what to expect. In this book especially I was constantly trying to figure out how everything was going to turn out. Because let's be honest here - it sure didn't seem like anything could turn out well for Geo after everything she had done. I really loved her as the main character! The past is something that she holds very close to her chest and we only get pieces of what happened slowly throughout the book. It gives her that questioning feel that I love similar to an unreliable narrator. I was always questioning her true intentions on everything that she did and her motivations behind it all. I don't think that it is too spoiler-ey to say that she keeps secrets throughout the book - as the reader you know that- even if you don't know what they are and why she is keeping them. It all just builds up layer by layer creating this building tension and suspense. I just couldn't get enough of it! I kind of guessed parts of the ending but that didn't make it any less horrifying or suspenseful! I literally had to force myself to slow down at the end just so I could take it all in. What a book! Overall, this book was everything that I look for in a thrilled so I loved my time reading it. It had a unique premise which really made it stand out for me in the sea of thrillers and mysteries that are out there. This book had a main character that I wanted to root for even though I didn't fully trust her. It was dark, tense, and a page turning read! I will definitely be there for anything and everything that this author writes in the future! I believe I have a different book of hers on my shelves so I really need to bump that up on the TBR list. I would recommend this book to fans of thrillers and suspense. Be warned that there is some definite triggers in this book that may deter other readers. It wasn't always an easy book to read but it was one that I won't soon forget! Bottom Line: A five star read for me.....enough said! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley. Thoughts are my own.
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier is set in Seattle, Washington. Fourteen years ago, Angela Wong disappeared without a trace and now her dismembered body has been found in the woods near Georgina “Geo” Shaw’s home. Detective Kaiser Brody, Geo’s best friend in high school, never suspected Geo was involved in such a heinous crime. They learn that Calvin James, Geo’s high school boyfriend, killed Angela and has since murdered three more women. Geo has kept the events of the night Angela was killed a secret, but, after reaching a plea deal, she testifies against Calvin at his trial. Geo is sentenced to five years at Hazelwood Correctional Institute. Towards the end of her stay she is visited by Kaiser and told that Calvin has escaped. Then new bodies start turning up in the woods killed in the exact manner at Angela. Geo is released, and she returns to her childhood home much to the neighbors’ dismay. As the body count rises, Geo recalls the events that led up to that fateful night. What really happened the night Angela died? Jar of Hearts had a good beginning that drew me in (the first third). After a while, though, the story took a downhill turn. The pace became slow and the story felt flat. I thought the story lacked depth and I found it to be predictable (reminded me of many other books that I have read). I wanted twists and turns that would surprise me and give me an OMG moment. The back and forth from the present to the past did not help. The characters lacked development and were one dimensional. I never felt the characters emotions (there should be hatred, anger, love, joy). I also wanted to know why Geo did the things she did. Geo is an unlikeable and unsympathetic character as were most of the individuals in the Jar of Hearts. I wanted to know why Geo was obsessed with Calvin (just one of my questions). Teenage naivete is an excuse that will only take a person so far. If a four-year-old knows the difference between right and wrong so should a teenager. I also felt Geo should have grown more as a person. One would hope that she would learn from her bad decisions and time in prison. The romance was unnecessary and did not add to the story. The ending was incomplete and anticlimactic. We are not given satisfactory answers that would wrap up the book and epilogue was unbelievable. I want to warn readers that the Jar of Hearts is a graphic story that contains extreme violence, crude comments, rape and foul language. Jar of Hearts was not the right book for me (I am in the minority on my opinion). Obtain a sample of the Jar of Hearts to see if it is it appeals to you. The cover for Jar of Hearts is beautiful and it is what drew me to the book.
I received a free e-copy of Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier from NetGalley for my honest review. Wow, what a crazy roller coaster of a book. This is a psychological thriller and has some very detailed scenes of prison life that are not for the faint of heart. They were very hard to read. Jar of hearts is about a young girl, Georgina, her best friend Angela and their fiend Kaiser who are all in High School. Angela is beautiful, perfect in every way and makes every guys head turn. Georgina is also beautiful but Angela's beauty is always above Georgina until a boy named Calvin comes along. Calvin is older, handsome and has a bad boy appeal to him. Calvin is interested in Georgina though not Angela. This is their story of how their relationship grew, had flaws, anger, abuse and even murder. Georgina loves Calvin but Calvin is not a good person but she can't pull herself away from him until that night when everything goes wrong and changes all of them from that day forward. Your past will always catch up with you. Secrets eventually come out. Everything has consequences.
I would Like to thank Net Galley fro sending me an early ARC of this book. I am a new reader of Jennifer Hillier but I will be following her from now forward. This book is such a good thriller I couldn't put it down. Grabbed me hard and kept me enthralled. Full of lies, secrets and mystery. As you can tell my reviews don't tell the plot but I suggest that you get this book, grab a comfy chair and just read, read, read!
Many thanks to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for a review copy. This is my honest opinion. What a great read! I loved this book from the opening paragraph and found myself going back to it whenever I had a spare minute. The story is well written and the characters, while not all likeable, are believable and a bit scary. This is a great thriller/mystery that I absolutely recommend to anyone who enjoys those genres.
This is a fascinating, horrifying thriller! So many trigger points - gratuitous violence, rape, child murder, dismemberment... But a well-written type of horrifying thriller. I mean, seriously, she reveals, the whodunit in the first few pages. But there's more, so much more. Good, solid writing, jaw dropping moments, a true thriller that will keep you reading long into the night, but maybe that's not such a good idea. A good description of friendship, duty and family. Despite how well it's written and how much I liked the book, it's difficult to recommend because of the many horrifying themes. I will say, however, I was never really grossed out or skipping paragraphs (or pages), and I never wanted to stop reading it, so she evidently hit all the themes well, knowing when to stop. Thank you to St. Martin's Press for the ARC! Author - 1⭐ Story - 1⭐ Ending - 1⭐ Offensiveness - 0⭐ Recommend - 1/2⭐
Thank you to the author, the publisher, and to NetGalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for my candid opinion. An interesting psychological read. It is about a high school girl who assists her then boyfriend (who is eventually convicted of being a serial killer) in covering up the murder of her best friend--after 14 years have gone by. Geo is now a successful business person with a high-powered job in a prestigious company, and who is engaged to the son and heir to the business empire. Whe then is found to have assisted her boyfriend in murdering or covering up the murder of her best friend. She is convicted as an accessory and goes to jail for 5 years. Her ex-boyfriend, now serial killer, is caught, convicted and escapes. And that's just the first few pages. It is an intriguing, psychological thriller, with a very fresh story line. It is a book about choices---why didn't Geo say anything about the murder of her friend? Did she help? Did she think that it would go away? What was she thinking. This book is about what happens in jail and after, and about the horrible impact of Geo's choices. It is about Geo trying to put her life back together, while mysterious murders are occurring in the area, and which are eerily similar to those committed by her ex-boyfriend/serial murder. It was a compelling read with interesting flashbacks to the original murder and the days leading up to it. It was a fairly quick read, as I really wanted to find out what happened and why. My only criticism is that the ending was a bit abrupt and unbelievable. If you love thrillers, you will love this book.
Thank you to Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press and Jennifer Hillier for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Meet Georgina Shaw, Geo to her friends. Beautiful, successful and on her way to jail for being an accessory to murder. Not just anyone, but charged for helping murder her best friend, Angela Wong, when they were just sixteen years old. What’s made it worse is that for fourteen years Georgina kept it a secret. She knew that her boyfriend killed Angela, she was there that night, but she lied to everyone around her and pretended that she knew nothing. Just imagine what she put Angela’s parents through pretending to grieve, all the while knowing that Angela was cut into little pieces and buried in the woods behind her house. She could have spared them the pain of wondering what happened to their daughter but Georgina decided to get on with her life, go to college and work her way up the corporate ladder. So successful at such a young age and to top it off she is even engaged to the head of the company. Oh Andrew, what will happen when he hears the news. And who walks into her boardroom to arrest her but her other best friend, Kaiser, the detective on the case. He has been chasing the “Sweetbay Strangler” for years. They would never have known Georgina was involved if the serial killer hadn’t turned out to be her boyfriend back in high school. Kaiser never like him, Calvin James, but then again he had been in love with Georgina ever since they were kids. Still, Calvin wasn’t a good influence on Georgina. He was older, controlling, but Georgina had never felt like that for anyone ever before in her whole life. Her head was turned upside down and she didn’t care if her grades were dropping, if she was losing her friends, or even, if Calvin sometime hit her. But Georgina has secrets and Calvin know what they are. She can never let anyone know what really happened that night. This story is told in a multi perspective voice between Kaiser and Georgina. We get to see the relationship of the three friends in high school. Angela was more beautiful, more popular, but definitely more bitchy. In the present we go through Georgina being convicted, her life in jail and life after being released. Calvin, who was supposed to spend the rest of his life in jail, escapes. New murders are taking place, even more gruesome than the originals. Has Calvin escalated? Is he in contact with Georgina? Kaiser might have been the skinny guy who was put in the friend zone, but he is all grown up, confident and handsome, and he wants the whole truth. I have been tiring of this kind of storytelling but this time it was done so well. The story flowed and it wasn’t like chapter 1 - Georgina, chapter 2 - Kaiser, blah blah blah. It would switch voices but the story didn’t stop. The excitement and suspense was allowed to build. There were twists and turns and even though I could see the direction that it was going, I was still wanting to get to the end. There were a lot of moving parts, covered lots of different periods and many characters, but somehow the story never suffered. It all served to enhance the plot. If you love psychological thrillers, this is one for you. It was dark enough without being disturbing, edgy but with enough story to fill the spaces, characters you care about and want to know more about and a level of detail that made it believable, created depth without getting bogged down. I enjoyed the writing so much I am going to check out Jennifer
Jar of Hearts is told in the past and present with secondary characters readers will enjoy. The story is full of emotions, suspense, told with a brutal truth no one wants to face in the story. This story is dark gritty and will not be for everyone but warning when you start reading you will not be able to stop. Everything you fear will be found in this book and more. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher Minotaur Books for the advance copy of Jennifer Hillier Jar of Hearts.