Blurb from Goodreads:
This is the story of three best friends: one who was murdered, one who went to prison, and one who’s been searching for the truth all these years . . .
When she was sixteen years old, Angela Wong—one of the most popular girls in school—disappeared without a trace. Nobody ever suspected that her best friend, Georgina Shaw, now an executive and rising star at her Seattle pharmaceutical company, was involved in any way. Certainly not Kaiser Brody, who was close with both girls back in high school.
But fourteen years later, Angela Wong’s remains are discovered in the woods near Geo’s childhood home. And Kaiser—now a detective with Seattle PD—finally learns the truth: Angela was a victim of Calvin James. The same Calvin James who murdered at least three other women.
To the authorities, Calvin is a serial killer. But to Geo, he’s something else entirely. Back in high school, Calvin was Geo’s first love. Turbulent and often volatile, their relationship bordered on obsession from the moment they met right up until the night Angela was killed.
For fourteen years, Geo knew what happened to Angela and told no one. For fourteen years, she carried the secret of Angela’s death until Geo was arrested and sent to prison.
While everyone thinks they finally know the truth, there are dark secrets buried deep. And what happened that fateful night is more complex and more chilling than anyone really knows. Now the obsessive past catches up with the deadly present when new bodies begin to turn up, killed in the exact same manner as Angela Wong.
How far will someone go to bury her secrets and hide her grief? How long can you get away with a lie? How long can you live with it?
Murder, concealment, and secrecy are the main ingredients of Jennifer Hillier’s suspense novel, Jar of Hearts. Topped with tastefully complicated relationships between characters, this book is a recipe for one great read. This is solidly entertaining, chilling, and wonderfully twisted, page-turner! But be warned—aside from the murders described in gruesome details, this book also contains other unsettling things like violence, abusive relationship, and graphic rape scenes which could be extremely uncomfortable to read.
In every story, there’s a hero and villain.
Sometimes one person can be both.
The plot started simple. Calvin James—also labeled as the Sweetbay Strangler—is in trial. Georgina Shaw—his former girlfriend—is in the witness box giving her testimony, finally breaking her silence and revealing her involvement in the murder of her best friend, Angela Wong, fourteen years ago. With the murderer and his accomplice already identified, caught, and found guilty at court, you’d think the rest of the book would be less thrilling because there will be no more guessing about who the killer is. But that’s where I’m wrong. Because this book’s mystery doesn’t lie on who did it. It lies on what really happened and what secrets aren’t they telling. The plot only gets more and more intriguing as the author builds-up the suspense with tiny glimpses of the secrets still buried deep.
Sometimes karma came for you later. Sometimes karma came for you right away.
The characters were all so well-developed. You’ll love them. You’ll hate them. Were they on the good side, or the evil side, of the moral scale? It’s difficult to tell. This book has brought conflicting emotions in me. As the story shifts from Geo’s past to present, my emotions also shifts from anger to sympathy towards her. Anger for keeping the truth a secret for fourteen years. Sympathy for having to carry the weight of such horrible secret alone, for having to endure the guilt from the decisions she’d made, and for the emotional damage she’d suffered throughout the years. And what is that if not a totally masterful writing?
Love—healthy love, the kind that doesn’t hurt or bruise or take away someone’s sense of self-worth—is like anything else that’s important in life. It has to be taught.
It’s been long since I last read a really good thriller. While Jar of Hearts reminds me just how fun it is to be surprised by juicy twists and turns, there were also parts that were easy to figure out. Despite that, I kept turning pages as if the book is giving me no other choice, because Jennifer Hillier’s writing is so damn engaging! Something about her style pulled me in, and despite being a little bit squeamish, my interest in the story didn’t die down.
The past is always with you, whether you choose to think about it or not, whether you take responsibility for it or not. You carry the past with you because it transforms you. You can try to bury it and pretend it never happened, but that doesn’t work.
Jar of Hearts is a cleverly plotted psychological thriller that will have you gripping the edge of your seat. It wasn’t just a book about solving a fourteen year old murder case. It’s also about the decisions and actions one make and how it changes the person, how one bad decision could affect their entire future. For those who love psychological thrillers, I think this would be a home run. For those who are just looking for a good mystery to read, give this one a try.