December 1, 2023

Novel Lives

Book Publicity, Reviews, Author Interviews, and Discussion Posts by Susan Crosby

Five Reasons To Read When I’m Dead By Hannah Morrissey

When I’m Dead (Black Harbor Series #3) By Hannah Morrisey

Goodreads summary of When I’m Dead (Black Harbor Series #3) By Hannah Morrissey (Review Below):

Please note- When I’m Dead absolutely works as a stand-alone novel.

One girl was murdered. Another one is missing. And a medical examiner desperate to uncover the truth in the latest Black Harbor mystery by acclaimed author Hannah Morrissey.

On a bone-chilling October night, Medical Examiner Rowan Winthorp investigates the death of her daughter’s best friend. Hours later, the tragedy hits even closer to home when she makes a devastating discovery—her daughter, Chloe, is gone. But not without a trace.

A morbid mosaic of clues forces Rowan and her husband to question how deeply they really knew their daughter. As they work closely to peel back the layers of this case, they begin to unearth disturbing details about Chloe and her secret transgressions…details that threaten to tear them apart. Amidst the noise of navigating her newfound grief and reconciling the sins of her past, an undeniable fact rings true for Rowan: Karma has finally come to collect.

Reason 1- Best Yet

When I’m Dead is the third book in the Black Harbor Series. However, it completely works as a stand-alone. While I enjoyed the first two books in the series. Hannah Morrissey has gotten better and better. When I’m Dead is absolutely the best of the series. It takes the best of Hannah Morrissey’s writing and intermixes it with a thrilling plot that keeps you on your feet the entire book.

Additionally, it isn’t just a thriller. When I’m Dead provides insight into parents with a child missing from distress to anger. This is especially true when a father and mother’s lens is completely opposite of each other. However, neither ever interferes with the other. The emotional side of the plot doesn’t overtake the thriller aspect, nor does the thriller aspect leave the emotional piece wanting or shallow.

Reason 2- Visceral Writing

I leaned in this direction when I wrote my Teaser Tuesday on When I’m Dead (see link), hoping it would expand in this vein. And Hannah Morrissey delivered in spades. And it isn’t in just one area of the plot. From the emotions to the murders and the investigation itself, Hannah Morrissey doesn’t pull any punches. Moreover, as I mentioned earlier, each piece is given its due diligence without ever overpowering the totality of the story.

She knows the answer. She’s just too afraid to speak it. Saying it makes it real, makes it something she cannot rescind or redact like blacking out names in a police repoprt. It doesn’t matter, anyway, because the truth is that, regardless of what guise this kill may wear, it’s karma. Karma killed her daughter.

Grotesque images of <her> sightless eye sockets, mouth open in a silent scream, and the angry marks on her neck flash through his memory. ‘She was probably strnagled’… ‘Don’t overthink this, Winthorp. What did the killer do after he strangled her? ‘He cut  out her eyes.’

Reason 3- Characters

Just as visceral as the plot writing is, the development of the characters is just as cut-throat. Hannah Morrissey continues to build on returning characters (without leaving behind new readers). Furthermore, she introduces new characters with the same reverence and dynamics as her returning cast. Lastly, I would like to mention in this section that the victims are never forgotten. While When I’m Dead is about catching a killer, the victims have names and personalities. Without giving away spoilers, it is crucial to know that each victim is explored. Their lives, backgrounds, and personalities are all intrinsic to the depth of When I’m Dead.

Summary Review

Thank you to Minotaur Books and Macmillan Audio for an advanced audio copy of When I’m Dead By Hannah Morrissey, which releases on October 31st (Macmillan Website)

Reason 4- Black Harbor

I would argue that the main returning character is Black Harbor Bay. Hannah Morrisey continues to write Black Harbor Bay as a disturbed, haunting place. It provides a meaty backdrop for a serial killer chase. Naming the series after Black Harbor Bay is perfect because that is the primary carryover from book to book. More than the actual characters, the setting almost drives the stories. If not driven, the setting is a definitive force throughout.

Reason 5- Audiobook

The production of When I’m Dead is right on point. Each point of view (the story is told from multiple points of view) is labeled, and there was never a time when I felt confused, or the story became muddled because of the format. Additionally, the entire cast does a phenomenal job. Narrators Andrew Eiden, Caitlin Kelly, Gary Tiedmann, and Xe Sands bring When I’m Dead to another level. Their portrayal of each character is more than compelling. It is pivotal. While I know I’ve mentioned them in the past, once again, Xe Sands nails all the things. Her voice, cadence, and intonation are all so unique that she brings a huge value-add to any book she narrates. Caitlin Kelly is also becoming a favorite of mine.


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