I'd read a description of The Kill Club by Wendy Heard before the publisher offered me the opportunity to join the blog tour for this highly immersive crime thriller. I'm not someone who enjoys books that are terrifying. Yet an organization devoted to providing justice for victims of abuse is right up my alley even though a journey down that alley could haunt my nights. Was I ready for this? I wasn't entirely certain when I downloaded my review copy from Net Galley.
All doubts vanished when I was introduced to the protagonist, Jasmine Benavides. I'd read that Wendy Heard is the co-host of a podcast called Unlikeable Female Characters. If the author intended Jasmine to be such a character, I have to say that she failed completely. I absolutely loved Jasmine from the start--long before I really got to know her. I had to discover more about this brave survivor of abuse who will not rest until her thirteen year old brother is also freed from the domination of their nightmarish foster mother, Carol Coleman.
Some might say that I'm perpetrating a spoiler when I reveal that Jasmine is a lesbian. Other reviewers have already outed Jasmine, and I feel that mentioning her sexuality is helping the book reach its audience--the readers who need to see bold lesbian action heroes in their thrillers.
Jasmine is also very human. She makes mistakes. A few of them have had terrible consequences, and she doesn't forgive herself for them. Admittedly, Jasmine has an overly active conscience. So she also blames herself for disasters that weren't her fault. Yes, Jasmine is an angst queen. I actually admire angsty characters. Protagonists who take responsibility for their actions are far more worthy of respect than those who self-righteously refuse to accept that they've ever harmed anyone. People in the second category are usually villains. Carol Coleman would be an example of that type of individual.
There were surprising twists in The Kill Club, but there were also a few that I found predictable. Even though I sometimes knew what was going to happen next, I was still totally involved in the plot. I was so invested in Jasmine as a character that I felt that I had become part of her world. I would find myself thinking about where the narrative was headed when I was doing other things. This doesn't happen to me very often.
I did have one problem. I felt that a police detective was portrayed in a pivotal scene as being less competent with a gun than I would expect of an experienced officer. That character's credibility as a detective was compromised. This wasn't a minor glitch, and it's the reason why I can't give The Kill Club five stars on Goodreads.
Despite the above criticism, the suspense was first rate and the characterization of Jasmine as a powerful yet vulnerable protagonist is what really makes The Kill Club by Wendy Heard well worth reading.
photo courtesy of MIRA