Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook

Small Crimes: Thursday Reads

Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook | We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III

“Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook” features Harry Hunsicker, Nick Quantrill, K.B. Jensen, Jennifer Hillier, Eric Beetner, Max Booth III, and more.

Article: “How to Throw a Virtual Book Launch Using Facebook Live” by K.B. Jensen (Jane Friedman)

Book Review: “Sordid: Five Crime Stories” by Harry Hunsicker (Kevin’s Corner)

Book Review: “Broken Dreams” by Nick Quantrill (Fahrenheit Press) (Ian Ayris)

Audio Review: “Killer’s Fedora” by Lawrence Block (Col’s Criminal Library)

Podcast: Jennifer Hillier joins Eric Beetner for the latest episode (Writer Types)

Photographs: Big Lonely City #100 (Fragments of Noir)

Book: “We Need To Do Something” by Max Booth III (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Fedoras, Tornadoes, and Facebook”. For more Small Crimes, click here.


Cops, Canada, Mistakes

Small Crimes: Wednesday Reads

Bleak Friday | Canada, Cops, Mistakes

“Canada, Cops, Mistakes” features Jennifer Hillier, Hannah Mary McKinnon, Roz Nay, Robyn Harding, Elena Taylor, Michael Pool, Paul J. Garth, and more.

Roundtable: Canadian Women Writers Talk Crime Fiction (The Thrill Begins)

Interview: James L’Etoile talked to Elena Taylor, author of “All We Buried” (Crooked Lane Press) (Do Some Damage)

Article: Frank Zafiro on being a cop and a writer, and what’s real and what’s not (Criminal Minds)

Article: The First Two Pages: “Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire” by Donna Andrews (Art Taylor, Writer)

Short Story: “Paper Boats” by Paul J. Garth (Tough)

Book Review: “Throwing Off Sparks” by Michael Pool (PI Tales) (Criminal Element)

Book Review: “Ash Mountain” by Helen FitzGerald (Orenda Books) (BOLO Books)

Book Review: “Girl Can’t Help It” by Max Allan Collins (Thomas & Mercer) (Bookgasm)

New Release: “Bleak Friday” by Various Artists (King Shot Press)

Thanks for stopping by Unlawful Acts and reading “Canada, Cops, Mistakes”. For more Small Crimes, click here.


Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

People and critics loved Jennifer Hillier’s “Jar of Hearts” and even though it’s a psychological thriller—a genre that I am not particularly fond of—I thought I’d give it a read. The reviews have been that good. Hillier’s writing talent far exceeds what I’ve found in the genre, but I still had problems with the big twist at the end.

This review contains spoilers, spoilers of a “Luke, I am your father” kind. Do not proceed further unless you want the book ruined for you.

“Jar of Hearts” opens with the psy-thrill childhood friends trope. Angela Wong, a popular 16-year-old girl, goes missing. Calvin James, the older boyfriend of Angela’s best friend Georgina “Geo” Shaw, killed Angela and Geo helped bury her. Fourteen years later, Angela’s dismembered boy is found behind Geo’s childhood home. Both Geo and Calvin are arrested by the former friend of both Angela and Geo, Kaiser Brody. Calvin is discovered as the Sweetbay Strangler, a serial killer with only a few known victims. Calvin immediately escapes prison and is on the lamb, but Geo serves her time.

And all of can be found in the description of the book at Amazon. You haven’t reached the spoilers yet.

I surprised myself with my suspension of belief with Hillier’s use of the childhood friend trope, but I could do so because Hillier’s writing was so damn good and she can weave a great yarn.

The book is told in the first-person by Geo and opens with her trial where she admits to the burying of her friend’s body. In the courtroom, Calvin passed a note to Geo unseen by everyone except Kaiser. Once again, I was able to suspend my belief, because, damn it, Hillier’s quite good at this.

Last spoiler warning. Seriously, go away now.

We go through 80% of the book with Calvin still on the prowl, two pairs of bodies of a mother and child are found near Geo’s childhood home and her high school. All signs point to Calvin and Kaiser actively investigates. And then after twenty-eight chapters of Geo bearing her soul, Chapter 29 begins with 16-year-old Geo discovering she’s pregnant after being raped by her boyfriend Calvin. She will eventually give the baby up for adoption.

I know it’s a writer’s job to manipulate what the reader witnesses, but the unnatural withholding of information via the unreliable narrator just to have that grandiose plot twist, I find is as lazy as it is annoying. We soon discover that Calvin is not responsible for the bodies near Geo’s home, but we also never find out what Calvin has been doing over the many years while on the run.

I was close to actually enjoying Hillier’s well-written psychological thriller but at the last minute, a fabricated twist is thrown at me which ruined “Jar of Hearts”.

Buy: Amazon