The Kill Club, by Wendy Heard

Short Take: Here, have a supersize twist, with a side order of twist, and an extra scoop of twist on the top.

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Greetings nerdlings! I come to you from the great frozen north…. Err, some bit of Appalachia which is currently freezing its tiddlywinks off for no particular reason. It looks like a snow globe outside, which, while pretty, means that I am not leaving the house for any reason. So it’s vodka o’clock, right? 

Ok, maybe it’s still just a teensy bit too early in the day for booze, but it’s ALWAYS a good time for a revenge fantasy, and believe me when I say that my fevered little nerd-brain always has a few of those kicking around. We’ll start with gathering up all the girls who bullied me in high school, shaving them all bald, and forcing them to work for an MLM for the rest of their lives….. 

Sorry, got distracted there for a second. 

The truth is that just about everyone has a name in mind when they hear “The world would be better off without…”, and in Wendy Heard’s latest, there’s a shadowy someone who can make your wish come true. An abusive parent, a dangerous stalker, an ex who cheats the system in family court – anyone can be targeted, and there’s not even any money involved. It’s a very simple setup – your tormentor will be killed, and in return, at a later date, you’ll kill someone else’s. 

For Jazz, the voice on the other end of the phone seems like a godsend at first. She’s been struggling to get custody of her little brother Joaquin from their horrifically abusive, religious-fanatic adoptive mother Carol. Jazz agrees to kill another abuser in exchange for Carol’s death, but if home renovations have taught me anything, it’s that nothing is ever as simple as it first appears. 

Complications arise and multiply, and I’m not going to elaborate on what those complications are, because The Kill Club is best experienced with as much surprise as possible.

And oh, my darlings, what delicious surprises they are! Even though some of the plot elements are a bit outlandish, the characters are so richly drawn (especially Jazz, my god, she’s so damaged and imperfect and real), the tension is so relentless, I was all-in. And the most awful/amazing trick in the author’s arsenal this time out is the too-mundane ways in which we humans are terrible to each other: A parent abusing a child. A man who will take by force what he wants from a woman. The guy in the office who eats chips with his mouth open. Revenge isn’t a new idea, someone being driven to murder by the callousness of another isn’t a new idea, but a person or persons quietly organizing those crimes so that victims are given justice without ever being directly tied to the death of their tormentor…. Now that’s just brilliant.

And more than a little scary, if I’m being honest, because of how attractive the idea is. It’s kind of a good news/bad news thing, I guess, that in real life, eventually there’d be one moron to bork the whole thing and bring everyone down, as anyone who’s ever had to do a group project at work can attest. 

Which is why even when The Kill Club veers into the implausible, it still works perfectly because I think deep down we all believe that people who have been hurt should get their pound of flesh, and the bad guys deserve to be sent straight to hell. Or an MLM.

The Nerd’s Rating: FIVE HAPPY NEURONS (and a few shots of Fireball, let’s get some heat in here!)

Loved this book!!

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