Friday, October 06, 2023

New Review : What Never Happened : Rachel Howzell Hall


3 out of 5 books

WHAT NEVER HAPPENED by Rachel Howzell Hall starts out with a bang. Coco wanders home in the middle of the night after slipping out to drink with local kids. Coco, a recent import from Long Beach, wants to fit in but finds Catalina Island a challenge, particularly as her family comprises a fair percentage of the island’s miniscule Black population. Coco walks in on a horrific scene at home: her father dead in a pool of blood in the kitchen. Coco discovers that her mother and brother have also been murdered, before narrowly escaping the killer by hiding in a closet. Nineteen years later, Coco has come back to Catalina to claim the house her family was supposed to move into all those years before. Coco is leaving her husband Micah who has dreams of becoming an actor on her dime. She worked as an obituary writer for the LA Times but was downsized. A job offer from her friend Maddy solidifies her decision to move back to Catalina Island.
Shortly after she arrives on Catalina, she finds out that the man who was arrested and convicted of killing her family has been released based on the sudden reappearance of the murder weapon, a knife that contains DNA that doesn’t match the suspect’s. Also, there's a strange occurrence happening in town; elderly people are dying under unusual circumstances. None of them die at home and no one seems to know why they may be at the locations where their body is found. Coco becomes suspicious after hearing about the strange deaths as the writer of their obituaries. At the same time, the country is starting to shut down due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Coco has to add sleuth to her resume as she tries to determine why her family was the targeted victims of a fatal home invasion, staying two steps ahead of her conniving husband and trying to determine if a serial killer is on the loose.
This was my first time reading one of Hall's psychological thrillers, and I was hooked from the start but at some parts the story lagged and seemed to get off course. Hall knows how to create a tense and captivating atmosphere. The book also touched on some relevant issues, such as racism, domestic violence, and the impact of the pandemic on people's lives. I thought the book was well-written and engaging, with some twists and surprises along the way. I was left with a few unanswered questions as some of the storylines were not wrapped up. This will not be my last read by this author.
Reviewed by: Paula Allen 

No comments: