Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books
Date of publication: October 31st, 2023
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Mystery Thriller, Fiction, Suspense, Crime, Adult, Halloween, Horror
Series: Black Harbor
Hello, Transcriber—Book 1
The Widowmaker—Book 2
When I’m Dead—Book 3
One girl murdered. Another one missing. And a medical examiner desperate to uncover the truth in the latest Black Harbor mystery by acclaimed author Hannah Morrissey.
On a bone-chilling October night, Medical Examiner Rowan Winthorp investigates the death of her daughter’s best friend. Hours later, the tragedy hits even closer to home when she makes a devastating discovery—her daughter, Chloe, is gone. But, not without a trace.
A morbid mosaic of clues forces Rowan and her husband to question how deeply they really knew their daughter. As they work closely to peel back the layers of this case, they begin to unearth disturbing details about Chloe and her secret transgressions…details that threaten to tear them apart.
Amidst the noise of navigating her newfound grief and reconciling the sins of her past, an undeniable fact rings true for Rowan: karma has finally come to collect.
You’ll love me more when I’m dead.When I’m Dead by Hannah Morrissey
Important things you need to know about the book:
Pace: The pacing of When I’m Dead was fast. Considering the book takes place within a week of the first murder, I wasn’t surprised. There was a slight lag towards the middle of the book, but I expected it. The lag didn’t affect my reading (I didn’t have to backtrack) or my enjoyment of the book.
Series: When I’m Dead is the third book in the Black Harbor series. Readers can read this book as a standalone. The characters from the previous two books appear in this one, but they are kept as secondary characters. Also, the cases from the previous books are mentioned but kept to just mentions.
Trigger/Content Warning: There are content and trigger warnings in When I’m Dead. If any of these trigger you, I suggest not reading the book. They are:
- Child Death (graphic)
- Kidnapping (moderate)
- Murder (graphic)
- Death (graphic)
- Bullying (graphic)
- Grief (graphic)
- Body Shaming (moderate)
- Gore (moderate)
- Mental Illness (graphic)
- Toxic Friendship (graphic)
- Injury/detail of injury (moderate)
- Blood (graphic)
- Medical Content (moderate)
- Adult/minor relationship (minor)
- Suicide (minor)
- Classism (moderate)
- Suicidal Ideation (moderate)
Sexual Content: There is sexual content in When I’m Dead. It is only for one page, and it does get moderately graphic.
Language: There is graphic swearing in When I’m Dead.
Setting: When I’m Dead is set entirely in the fictional city of Black Harbor, Wisconsin.
Tropes: The Red Herring, The Dramatic Reveal, Twist Ending, Ticking Clock, High Stakes, Missing Children
Age Range: I recommend When I’m Dead to anyone over 21.
Plot Synopsis (as spoiler-free as I can get):
When Rowan is called to the scene of a gruesome murder, she is shocked to discover that it is a friend of her daughter, Chloe. When she gets home later that night, she finds that Chloe never returned home from the play she was starring in. As she and her husband, Axel, start investigating Chloe’s disappearance and her friend’s murder, she is shocked to learn that Chloe has been keeping secrets from her parents. The more they dig, the more secrets they uncover. Can they find Chloe and solve the murders?
Rowan Winthrop: I could sympathize with Rowan regarding Chloe going missing. But my sympathy only went so far. She was a largely absent parent who prioritized her job over her child, and she knew it. I did feel bad about the guilt she carried over that and the death of a teenager decades earlier.
Axel Winthrop: I wasn’t sure what to think about him. I felt that he made some very questionable choices throughout the book. Like Rowan, he prioritized his job over his child. But, in this case, I got it. Detectives work strange and long hours. I also questioned his behavior throughout the book with suspects.
Chloe Winthrop: I felt awful for Chloe. She was dealing with a lot. A possible learning disability (and don’t get me started on how her parents didn’t know about it), vicious and ugly rumors being spread about her, and her parents never seemed to notice her. I just wanted to hug her.
Libby Lucas: I didn’t like her but felt terrible for her. Classmates teased her relentlessly about her weight (Neck Rolls was a nickname given to her). I had her pegged as the murderer because of how she acted in her chapters. But the more I read about her, the more I understood her. She was Chloe’s haven in the hell that school became.
When I’m Dead was an interesting read for me. I liked that this was a dark thriller where I couldn’t figure out who the killer was. I was not too fond of the multiple POVs, but they grew on me. They did give me insight into Chloe and the facts surrounding her disappearance. They also gave me insight into the people murdered and how the murders are tied to Chloe.
The main storyline is centered around the murders and Chloe’s disappearance. The investigation into the murders did raise my eyebrows, though. The main detective and the medical examiner knew the victim(s) and, later on, knew what they did to their daughter. I know this is fiction, but I didn’t think it was kosher. I also thought that Axel interrogating suspects was against everything I knew about police procedure. The author does attempt to explain why they were both working the cases. There was a shortage of MEs and police officers. Then there is Libby’s role in everything. She didn’t tell Axel or Rowan everything she knew and, most importantly, defaced evidence in Chloe’s room. Her behavior made me think she was a suspect until it was proven she wasn’t (alibi). But Libby was central in figuring out who the killer/kidnapper was and the motive behind everything.
The mystery angle was well written. The author gave a ton of red herrings and had me thinking different people were the killer/kidnapper. Heck, she even had me thinking that Chloe did it and ran away. But when she revealed who the killer/kidnapper was and the motive, I was shocked. That person wasn’t even on my radar.
The suspense/thriller angle was also well-written. I was kept on the edge of my seat, wondering when Chloe would be found and the killer would be revealed. And at the end of the book, I was on edge with everything happening.
The end of When I’m Dead was great. I liked the twists that the author threw in about the killer. As I mentioned above, I had zero clue about the killer’s motive and who the killer was. I felt that the very end of the book was a little anti-climactic due to everything that happened.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, NetGalley, and Hannah Morrissey for allowing me to read and review this ARC of When I’m Dead. All opinions stated this this review are mine.
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