Jasmine “Jazz” Benavides, the narrator of this uneven noir thriller set in L.A. from Heard (Hunting Annabelle), loves her 13-year-old brother, Joaquin Coleman, and sees him as often as possible, despite her volatile relationship with his controlling adoptive mother, Carol Coleman, who also raised Jazz after the death of their mother. A religious fanatic, Carol often refuses Joaquin his lifesaving diabetic medicine, keeps him out of school, and locks him in his room with no way to escape, all before disappearing with the boy without a trace. An anonymous caller offers Jazz a “permanent solution”: murder a stranger who may be a drug dealer, rapist, or an abuser—and, in turn, someone will murder Carol. As Jazz weighs the moral ramifications, she learns that such murders, dubbed the Blackbird Killings by the police, have been going on for a while. The loving relationship between Jazz and book-smart Joaquin adds realism, as does the background of their connection. The clever finale makes up in part for an unbelievable villain and an unwieldy center that substitutes violence for real storytelling. Fans of Stranger on the Train scenarios will find much to like. Agent: Lauren Spieller, Triada US Literary. (Dec.)
"Heard expertly blends nearly nonstop thrills and some genuinely surprising twists with spot-on social commentary... Just try to put this one down." –Kirkus Reviews
"A chilling, clever plot combined with highly original characters makes Wendy Heard's THE KILL CLUB a surefire winner. Relentlessly paced, elegantly written, diabolically twisted, you will not be able to put it down. Heard is a true talent." -J.T. Ellison, USA Today bestselling author of Lie to Me
"Jazz has a gritty, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo vibe, and she drives the action in this full-throttle thriller all the way to the deliciously dark end." - Kimberly Belle, USA Today bestselling author of Dear Wife
"Some stories are dark, some stories are fun, and some are both. Wendy Heard's THE KILL CLUB is a deliciously sinister thriller that turns ordinary people into villains... or heroes, depending on which side you're on. Heard's fresh voice makes this compelling novel a roaring read from start to finish." -Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts
"How far will you go for agency, love, or freedom? In this Strangers on a Train world, the women of LA have an answer to the testosterone-fueled black-market justice of Fight Club, and no one is safe. Explosive, compelling, and one hell of a good time, do not miss Wendy Heard's propulsive dive into revenge noir." -Mindy Mejia, author of Leave No Trace
"An emotional rollercoaster ride...utterly genius." -Carissa Lynch, USA TODAY bestselling author of My Sister Is Missing
"AMAZING . . . One dark, addictive thrill ride of a book. It'll make you think about how far you would go to save someone you love . . . and make you a little paranoid about that stranger standing too close to you at Trader Joe's." -Kathleen Barber, author of Follow Me
"The protagonist, Jazz, is dark, gritty, and determined, with a wicked sense of humor and an occasional tender side, but she certainly doesn't need anyone to save her . . . A knock-out thriller. Buckle up; you're in for one hell of a ride." -Hannah Mary McKinnon, author of Her Secret Son
"A nonstop nail-biter . . . a must-read thriller." -Diana Urban, author of All Your Twisted Secrets
"A breathless, chilling adventure . . . intricate and masterful plotting, surprises around every corner, and an ending that chilled me to the bone." -Megan Collins, author of The Winter Sister
Jazz knows her diabetic 13-year-old brother Joaquin is desperate for insulin. Growing up in foster care was brutal, and now that she is on her own and their dogmatic foster mother, Carol, has adopted Joaquin, Jazz no longer has access to him. She's thwarted at every legal turn, so when an anonymous caller suggests that Carol can be made to disappear, her desperate love for Joaquin sets off a frantic chain of events. All Jazz needs to do is kill someone in order for Carol to be killed. As the bodies accumulate, the stymied police see no connection between the murders dubbed the Blackbird killings. When the murder Jazz plans fails, she must run from the police and the merciless mastermind behind the attacks. Then Joaquin disappears. VERDICT Heard (Hunting Annabelle) offers an exhilarating plot of quid pro quo. Biracial Jazz is a scrappy boxer, loyal to friends and family, who only wants to offer her smart younger brother a chance to make it in life. This dark suspense is a fine addition to LGBTQ and multicultural collections.—Gloria Drake, Oswego P.L. Dist., IL
In Heard's sophomore thriller (Hunting Annabelle, 2018), a desperate woman at the end of her rope is drawn into an intriguing, but deadly, scheme.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jasmine "Jazz" Benavides has had enough of her ex-foster mother, Carol. Jazz moved out a while back and barely makes ends meet stocking supermarket shelves in between gigs with her band. Her 13-year-old brother, Joaquin Coleman, still lives with the uber-religious and physically abusive Carol, who is actually his adoptive mother. That and Jazz's criminal record are the reasons that Jazz has been unsuccessful in getting the diabetic Joaquin away from a woman who speaks in tongues and denies him his insulin because she believes God will heal him. When Jazz must literally break into Carol's house to deliver his medicine, things come to a head, and Carol beats Jazz with a baseball bat. A solution to the Carol problem comes in the form of a phone call from a blocked number. The mysterious caller will make Carol go away for good, but Jazz will have to kill someone else in return. Like pay it forward but with a syringe loaded with deadly poison. The caller explains that the overarching mission is to bring justice to those who were robbed of it by a broken system. With Joaquin's life on the line, Jazz doesn't hesitate for long, but when she fails to take down her target, all hell breaks loose. The LAPD is frantically investigating the deaths they've dubbed the Blackbird killings, and Jazz is running out of time. The scrappy Jazz can kick ass with the best of them, but the Blackbird killer, who pulls all the strings, seems to have eyes and ears everywhere, and to complicate things, Jazz is falling for Sofia Russo, the sultry assistant principal of Joaquin's school, who's dealing with her own problems. Heard expertly blends nearly nonstop thrills and some genuinely surprising twists with spot-on social commentary that makes an impact without getting preachy.
Just try to put this one down.