These Toxic Things: Book summary and reviews of These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall

These Toxic Things

by Rachel Howzell Hall

These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall X
These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2021
    430 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

A dead woman's cherished trinkets become pieces to a terrifying puzzle.

Mickie Lambert creates "digital scrapbooks" for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren't forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman's last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d'art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain―twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.

But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia's past alone.

It's becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[An] exceptional thriller...This cleverly plotted, surprise-filled novel offers well-drawn and original characters, lively dialogue, and a refreshing take on the serial killer theme. Hall continues to impress." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A young woman faces harsh realities in a thrilling new stand-alone from Hall...A mystery/thriller/coming-of-age story you won't be able to put down till the final revelation." - Kirkus Reviews

"Rachel Howzell Hall continues to shatter the boundaries of crime fiction through the sheer force of her indomitable talent. These Toxic Things is a master class in tension and suspense. You think you are ready for it. But. You. Are. Not." - S. A. Cosby, author of Blacktop Wasteland

"These Toxic Things is taut and terrifying, packed with page-turning suspense and breathtaking reveals. But what I loved most is the mother-daughter relationship at the heart of this gripping thriller. Plan on reading it twice: once because you won't be able to stop, and the second time to savor the razor's edge balance of plot and poetry that only Rachel Howzell Hall can pull off." - Jess Lourey, Amazon Charts bestselling author of Unspeakable Things

"The brilliant Rachel Howzell Hall becomes the queen of mind games with this twisty and thought-provoking cat-and-mouse thriller. Where memories are weaponized, keepsakes are deadly, and the past gets ugly when you disturb it. As original, compelling, and sinister as a story can be, with a message that will haunt you long after you race through the pages." - Hank Phillippi Ryan, USA Today bestselling author of Her Perfect Life

This information about These Toxic Things shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

brilliant crime fiction
These Toxic Things is the seventh novel by American author, Rachel Howzell Hall. Twenty-four-year-old Michaela Lambert is a digital archaeologist for the Memory Bank, and her latest client is Nadia Denham. Nadia’s Memory Bank will be a digital collection of those things she holds most dear, together with their background stories.

Nadia owns Beautiful Things Curiosities Shoppe, located in a run-down little plaza next to a diner, a locksmith, a hair salon, a boarded-up bar and a carpark that harbours a collection of somewhat derelict RVs. Real-estate developer, Peter Weller is keen to get his hands on the plaza but, to his annoyance, the remaining four shop-owners are standing their ground, despite some underhand tactics.

At their first meeting, Mickie’s new client has arrayed her precious keepsakes on a table with notes for each item detailing when and where it was acquired, and from whom. But before they get together for a more thorough discussion, Nadia is found dead, an apparent suicide, something that sits completely at odds with Mickie’s impression of an enthusiastic woman eager to digitise her memories for her own future reference.

Mickie’s boss insists she go ahead with the project, for which he has been paid, but she has to endure the chagrin and disdain of the store manager, Riley. The items and their backstories are quite intriguing, although Mickie notes that they all seem to have come from desperate women, some of whom later met with nasty ends.

Meanwhile, Mickie’s personal life is in upheaval: creepy notes under her door; threatening texts ordering her to stop what she is doing; a car tailing her home; and a weirdo confronting her in a café. Luckily, she has a very supportive family with police connections, and some good friends. She’s a smart girl, shares whatever concerns her and listens to their sound advice and observations.

While her ex-boyfriend (inconveniently also her boss) is not quite off the scene, Nadia’s rather dishy son seems interested, and interesting. But Mickie is being careful: there’s some nutjob out there grabbing young women and killing them, and no way is she going to add to the list of victims.

Howzell Hall gives the reader a story that is cleverly plotted with several red herrings and a chilling twist. This is a tale that may have us considering where we perceive personal danger lies. Her characters are believable and Mickie’s family and friends are so appealing that many will envy her relationship with them.

It is certainly refreshing to have a protagonist who is fairly security conscious, one who doesn’t assume she’ll be OK but, instead, lets people where she’s going and when to expect her back, who doesn’t go and investigate a strange noise on her own but calls for help. The Magic 8 Ball predictions as section headings is a cute touch. Another brilliant crime fiction read that puts Howzell Hall firmly on the Must Read list.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Thomas and Mercer.

GerrieB

Clever Hook, Annoyingly Lead
These Toxic Things has such a clever premise that I dove right into it. However, by the halfway mark I had figured out most of the plot and more importantly I was sick of the main character. Mickie Lambert constantly borrows and stains her mom’s clothes. She drives a hand me down Mercedes because she wrecked her dad’s car, so mom
and dad bought another car and gave her the Mercedes. . She lives in a garage apartment behind her parent’s house. She has received threatening notes, and texts and has been followed but she just can’t remember to set her alarm system. She quit a good job working at her dad’s company to join a start up
company her new boyfriend runs. Her new job requires her to photograph objects and type in details with a bit of research. It takes her days and days to accomplish anything. She only works a few hours a day before running out to party with her friends. The story takes a long time to get moving and it almost bored me to death. The best parts center around Beautiful Things , the curio shop and it is here that the book shines. Unfortunately, too much time is spent with Mickie and her drama and her whining and dining ( pun intended) . There were plot maneuvers that annoyed me such as days and days of rain in LA to prolong the construction of a fence. I loved the premise , the set up was so clever and many of the characters were really interesting but Mickie Lambert needs a rewrite. She’s too annoying and immature by half.

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Author Information

Rachel Howzell Hall

Rachel Howzell Hall is the author of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize– and Lefty Award–nominated And Now She's Gone; and the Anthony Award–, Lefty Award–, and International Thriller Writers Award–nominated They All Fall Down. She also writes the acclaimed Detective Elouise Norton series, including Land of Shadows, Skies of Ash, Trail of Echoes, and City of Saviors. Rachel is also the coauthor of The Good Sister with James Patterson, which was included in the New York Times bestseller The Family Lawyer. She lives in Los Angeles.

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