Cheri Reviews Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Look at me! Reviewing a NetGalley title within the same year the book was released! Yeah, baby, I’m pretty pleased. It definitely helps that I was able to convince my Cocktail Hour co-hosts to pick this title for our August show. And that it’s available in audio.

Here’s the Goodreads blurb, even though it’s sort of long:

Georgina, known as Geo, is a 30-year-old rising executive when her world comes crashing down. Her high school boyfriend has been identified and arrested for a series of serial murders, including Angela, Geo’s best friend in high school. Angela disappeared without a trace at 16 and her body has just been found. Now Geo is under arrest for helping her then-boyfriend cover it up. And it’s one of her other close friends from high school, Kaiser Brody, who arrests her.

While Geo is sent to prison for her part, Calvin escapes from custody and is on the run. Geo, now thirty-five, is about to be released from prison to try and start over. But someone has started killing people and dumping their bodies in her old neighborhood, with some of the markers of the missing Sweetbay Strangler—her old boyfriend Calvin. Is these killings some kind of message from Calvin? Are they some of revenge? Is she herself now in danger?

Everything turns on what really happened that tragic night back when Geo and Angela were high schoolers. Everyone thinks they know the truth, but there are dark secrets buried deep within other secrets, and it may be too late for anyone to survive the truth.

Jar of Hearts is a compelling edge-of-your-seat thriller that grabs readers from the very beginning and holds them rapt, as the truth of both the past and the present is skillfully unfolded, until the very last page.

Despite the bad grammar in the blurb – which if I’d read before getting the book might have prevented me from trying it – the writing is good and the story kept me hooked from start to finish. The audio narration by January LaVoy was damn near perfect. Maybe even absolutely perfect. I liked it enough to actually google her and check out her website. Not many narrators inspire that level of curiosity in me.

So back to the book… I love that I didn’t guess the big reveal until I was supposed to – nearly at the end of the book. It wasn’t outlandish or bullshitty like some plot twists authors will use to foil all of us readers who start noting their guesses about the bad guy or plot twist very early in a book. It felt totally plausible to me and the actual reveal seemed timed perfectly. I didn’t feel cheated but, instead, wished the story had gone on just a bit longer once I had that last bit of info.

For me, the book was really about the revealing of what happened when Geo was 16 and how the present-day case was playing out instead of the relationships of the people involved. Reflecting on it now, I didn’t really care that much about Kaiser or anyone else besides Geo. Really, I don’t think I cared much about Geo either. I enjoyed getting to know her through witnessing the bits and pieces of her life and experiences but I didn’t really care about her. I was curious about her. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Ok, I’m rambling now and my mind is moving into different directions so I’ll wrap this up. If you enjoy mysteries with slow reveals and don’t mind some flashbacks, give Jar of Hearts a shot. If you like audio books, definitely go for January LaVoy’s narration.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books for the ebook ARC because it put the book on my radar.

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