Monday, August 30, 2021

These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall

 
First Line: At that time of night, there was peace.
 
Calling herself a "digital archaeologist," Michaela "Mickie" Lambert creates digital scrapbooks for her clients, ensuring that precious items and memories are not forgotten or lost. When her newest client, eccentric curio shop owner Nadia Denham, dies of an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the woman's last wish and continues curating twelve peculiar mementos, precious memories the old woman gathered on her cross-country flea market travels.
 
But these mementos mean a lot to someone else, too-- someone who leaves messages for Mickie telling her to leave them alone. This only heightens Mickie's curiosity. Who were the original owners of these "treasures"? How did Nadia actually acquire them? Little does Mickie know that her journey to the truth will lead her right into the path of a long-dormant serial killer.
 
~
 
These Toxic Things is a book that I wanted to like a lot more than I did. I've read other books by Rachel Howzell Hall and really enjoyed them, but this book is definitely not being added to that list. Granted, I did like the premise: being a digital archaeologist, tracking down the original owners and histories behind cherished items. If there'd been more of that, my enjoyment of the book would have been greater. But alas, there wasn't. After a fantastic first chapter that really raised my hopes, These Toxic Things turned into a bloated, slow-moving thriller with few real surprises-- the exact opposite of what a thriller should be.

Another real hindrance to my enjoyment of this book was the main character herself. Michaela "Mickie" Lambert, one of these twentysomethings who would have to have her cell phone surgically removed from her hand. Spoiled rotten, overprotected Mickie Lambert who thinks nothing of wearing and ruining her mother's designer clothes and snooping in her things to the point of searching high and low for a key to unlock a box in her mother's bedside table. Mickie Lambert, who freaks out at every noise and shadow yet can't be bothered to turn on the alarm system in her apartment. Can you tell I just loved this girl to bits? There's a secondary mystery in These Toxic Things concerning the reasons why Mickie has been so overprotected her whole life, but her childish response to learning one of the secrets surrounding this just made me shake my head and roll my eyes.
 
These Toxic Things starts out with a killer first chapter and a very intriguing premise, but it's grievously hampered by a glacial pace, easily deduced surprises, and an extremely annoying main character. Sorry, Mickie. I'm not hiring you as my digital archaeologist.

These Toxic Things by Rachel Howzell Hall
ASIN: B08MPVFL46
Thomas & Mercer © 2021
eBook, 417 pages
 
Thriller/Suspense, Standalone
Rating: D+
Source: Purchased from Amazon.

18 comments:

  1. I am seriously disappointed to read this. Will I try it anyway? I don't know.

    I liked And Then She Was Gone so much that I was looking forward to this book. Don't know if I'll try it after this deathray review.

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  2. Oh, Cathy, I know just what you mean about not liking Mickie! She sounds like a really annoying character, and I really dislike main characters who do stupid things like not set an alarm system. It's really unfortunate, because I did like the premise. But if that's not what the story turns out to be, that's even more disappointing. Nope, not adding this one to the list.

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  3. It is one thing to have a main character that you don't care about, but one that is annoying, shallow, and spoiled is not fair to the reader. Mickie sounds a bit toxic.

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  4. I'll just say 'I agree' with the comments above. I don't think I'll rush to read this one. I'm too easily annoyed and frustrated right now anyway. Trying to steer clear of it in my reading. Thanks for telling us of your experience with this particular book. Doesn't mean I'll cross the author off my list at all though. I think every author sometimes writes a book that doesn't work well for me (see my post today about the new Louise Penny book) - ha!

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    1. Yes, you surprised me a bit with your opinion about the new Penny book. I know how much you like her.

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  5. Well, the premise certainly does sound interesting. Too bad Mickie is such an unlikeable character and the pace was less than thrillerish.

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    1. Yes. I think I could have survived Mickie better if the book's pace had been faster.

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  6. That's disappointing! I'm sorry this one wasn't better.

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    1. Unfortunately, they can't all be winners.

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  7. Well, this is something to keep in mind - I'm a fan of the author also, but these comments move it to a lower priority for me.

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    1. I'd say that if you aren't in the mood for a character like Mickie you should put off reading the book.

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  8. I may try a few pages from a library book, just to get my feet wet.

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  9. Do you remember Maxine Clarke and Bernadette Bean used to throw bad books against a wall? I never did that, but I have felt like doing it. Books are special even if they're bad. I don't think I've ever put one on the floor, and I gave a neighbor a talking to because she put library books on the floor. Oh what a fun neighbor I am!!!

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    1. I've never thrown a book against the wall either. I think that comes from growing up in a library and seeing what sort of vandalism the patrons wreaked on the books.

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