The Kill Club by Wendy Heard
ARC received from the publisher for an honest review and Blog Tour participation.
Publish Date: December 17, 2019
A special thank you to Harper Collins Publishers and Harlequin Books for the opportunity to participate in the Winter 2020 Mystery/Thriller Blog Tour! This was such a fun and fast paced read!
A haunting thriller about a woman who attempts to save her brother’s life by making a
dangerous pact with a network of vigilantes who’ve been hunting down the predators of
Jazz can’t let her younger brother die.
Their foster mother Carol has always been fanatical, but with Jazz grown up and out of the
house, Carol takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and
over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.
Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone offering a solution. There are others like her,
people the law has failed. They’ve formed an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing
to murder the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies
throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings. If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of
Carol for good.
All she has to do is kill a stranger.
Jazz soon learns there’s more to fear than getting caught carrying out her assignment. The
leader of the club has a zero tolerance policy for mistakes.
And the punishment for disobeying orders is death.
“First rule of murder club. Don’t talk about murder club. Got it.”
With a Fight Club meets Strangers on a Train vibe, this book was nearly impossible to put down. You fly from chapter to chapter on the edge of your seat biting your nails to the quick wondering what could possibly happen next. How far would you go to save the ones you love? Would you kill for them? How far down the rabbit hole do you go before you do whatever it takes to get out? Jazz finds that once she’s in the murder club there isn’t a clear out to live the happily ever after she was promised. After all, she just had to accomplish one little task. Murder a stranger. Once she does this there’s no going back. She must become everything she has tried not to be her whole life so that she can get the one she loves away from someone worse. But if she does this, does that make her just as bad? This was a constant struggle between good and bad as we follow Jazz on this wild ride to find out how far she will go to save her brother Joaquin from their corrupt foster mother, Carol. I honestly was rooting for Jazz to just go ahead and off Carol she was such a despicable character but I get that its not that easy. Too bad, because Carol was just plain awful. I couldn’t stand a single thing she did or said and would have probably gotten myself into all sorts of trouble had I been put in the same place as Jazz. I commend Jazz on her ability to really think on this decision though and all the consequences that might come along with it. She didn’t jump at the idea of murder and actually tried time and time again to say no. But once you know about murder club they don’t let you go that easily. And soon our ever brave and moral heroine is dragged into the dark circle of murder and favors and once she’s in she finds its a lot more difficult to get out than she was told.
The writing in this book keeps you in it until the very end. I read this in one sitting unable to tell myself to take a break. The chapters fly by as you try and find out who’s going to pop up next and what might happen to them. The intermittent chapters of random characters read like a movie with cut scenes to other mystery characters in the murder club that we don’t know at first but eventually we see how they all fit into the big picture. I was so involved in the book trying to guess who the Blakcbird Killer was the entire time only to find in the end it wasn’t at all who I expected. I was also extremely satisfied with the ending of this book, wrapping everything up neatly and efficiently. There was a pretty sad part that had me pretty bummed but the rest was exactly as you’d hope it would be. This was my first book I’ve read by Wendy Heard and I think she now has a new fan. I’m going to have to start seeing what else she has that I can devour like I did The Kill Club. If you get this book make sure you have the entire day to devote to this intense read.
Just don’t answer the flip phone that arrives in a mystery box if you aren’t willing to pay the price of your freedom. Welcome to The Kill Club.
THE CEILING ABOVE the crowd sparkles with strings of golden lights. They twinkle just bright enough to
illuminate the faces. I adjust a microscopic issue with my toms and run my fingers through my bangs,
straightening them over my eyes. The guys are tuning up, creating a clatter of discordant notes in the
monitors. When they’re done, they approach my kit for our usual last-minute debate about the set list.
Dao humps his bass in his ready-to-play dance, black hair swishing around his shoulders. “Dude, stop,”
Matt groans and readjusts the cable that connects his Telecaster to his pedal board.
“Your mom loves my dancing,” Dao says.
“You dance like Napoleon Dynamite,” Matt retorts.
“Your mom dances like Napoleon Dynamite.”
Andre raises his hands. “Y’all both dance like Napoleon Dynamite, and so do both your moms, so
I wave a stick at them. “Guys. Focus. The sound guy is watching. We’re three minutes behind.” I
have no patience for this shit tonight. This all feels extra and stupid. I should be doing something to help
Joaquin. His dwindling supply of insulin sits at the front of my brain like a ticking clock.
The guys get into their spots, the distance between them set by muscle memory. Andre leans
forward into the mic and drawls, “Arright DTLA, lez get a little dirty in here.” His New Orleans accent
trickles off his tongue like honey.
The room inhales, anticipates, a sphere of silence.
“Two three four,” I yell. I clack my sticks together and we let loose, four on the floor and loud as
hell. I’m hitting hard tonight. It feels great. I need to hit things. My heart beats in tempo. My arms fly
through the air, the impact of the drums sharp in my joints, in my muscles, the kick drum a pulse
keeping the audience alive. This is what I love about drumming, this forcing of myself into the crowd,
making their hearts pound in time to my beat.
Dao fucks up the bridge of “Down With Me” and Andre gives him some vicious side-eye. The
crowd is pressed tight up against the stage. A pair of hipsters in cowboy hats grabs a corresponding pair
of girls and starts dancing with them. I cast Dao an eye-rolling look referring to the cowboy hats and he
wiggles his eyebrows at me. I stomp my kick drum harder, pretending it’s Carol’s face.
The crowd surges back. Arms fly. A guy in the front staggers, falls. A pair of hands grips the
stage, and a girl tries to pull herself up onto it.
Matt and Dao stop playing. The music screeches to a halt.
“What’s going on?” I yell.
“Something in the pit,” Dao calls back.
Andre drops his mic and hops down into the crowd. Dao and Matt cast their instruments aside
and close the distance to the edge of the stage. I get up and join them. Together, we look down into the
A clearing has formed around a brown-haired guy lying on the floor. Andre and the bouncer
squat by him as he squirms and thrashes, his arms and legs a tangle of movement. Andre’s got his phone
pressed to his ear and is talking into it urgently. The bouncer is trying to hold the flailing man still, but
the man’s body is rigid, shuddering out of the bouncer’s grip. He flops onto his back, and I get a good
look at his face.
Oh, shit, I know this guy. He’s a regular at our shows. He whines and pants, muffled words
gargling from his throat. Some of the bystanders have their phones out and are recording this. Assholes.
The man shrieks like a bird of prey. The crowd sucks its whispers back into itself, and the air
hangs heavy and hushed under the ceiling twinkle lights.
Andre is still talking into his phone. The bouncer lifts helpless hands over the seizing man,
obviously not sure what to do.
I should see if Andre wants help. I hop down off the stage and push through the crowd. “Excuse
me. Can you let me through? Can you stop recording this and let me through?”
I’m suddenly face-to-face with a man who is trying to get out of the crowd as hard as I’m trying
to get into it. His face is red and sweaty, his eyes wild. “Move,” he orders me.
Dick. “You fucking move.”
“Bitch, move.” He slams me with his shoulder, knocking me into a pair of girls who cry out in
protest. I spin, full of rage, and reverse direction to follow him.
“Hey, fucker,” I scream. He casts a glance over his shoulder. “Yeah, you! Get the fuck back
He escalates his mission to get out of the crowd, elbowing people out of his way twice as fast.
I’m smaller and faster, and I slip through the opening he leaves in his wake. Just before he makes it to
the side exit, I grab his flannel shirt and give him a hard yank backward. “Get the fuck back here!” I’m
loose, all the rage and pain from earlier channeling into my hatred for this entitled, pompous asshole.
I know I should rein it in, but he spins to face me and says, “What is your problem, bitch?” And
that’s it. I haul back and punch him full in the jaw.
He stumbles, trips over someone’s foot and lands on his ass on the cement floor. His phone goes
clattering out of his hand, skidding to a stop by someone’s foot. “The hell!”
“Oh, shit,” cries a nearby guy in a delighted voice.
“Fucking bitch,” the guy says, and this is the last time he’s calling me a bitch. I go down on top of
him, a knee in his chest. I swing wild, hit him in the jaw, the forehead, the neck. He throws an elbow; it
catches me in the boob and I flop back off him with a grunt of pain. He sits up, a hand on his face, and
opens his mouth to say something, but I launch myself off the ground again, half-conscious of a chorus
of whoops and howls around us. I throw a solid punch. His nose cracks. Satisfaction. I almost smile.
Blood streams down his face.
“That’s what you get,” I pant. He crab-shuffles back, pushes off the ground and sprints for the
exit. I let him go.
My chest is heaving, and I have the guy’s blood on my hand, which is already starting to ache
and swell. I wipe my knuckles on my jeans.
His phone lights up and starts buzzing on the floor. I pick it up and turn it over in my hand. It’s an
old flip phone, the kind I haven’t seen in years. The bright green display says Blocked.
Back in the pit, the man having a seizure shrieks again, and then his screams gurgle to a stop. I
put the phone in my pocket and push through the onlookers. I watch as his back convulses like he’s
going to throw up, and then he goes limp. A thin river of blood snakes out of his open mouth and trails
along the cement floor.
The room echoes with silence where the screams had been. A trio of girls stands motionless,
eyes huge, hands pressed to mouths.
The flip phone in my pocket buzzes. I pull it out, snap it open and press it to my ear. “Hello?”
“Hello?” I repeat.
A click. The line goes dead.
A set of paramedics slams the stage door open, stretcher between them. “Coming through!”
They kneel down and start prodding at the man curled up on the concrete. His head flops back. His eyes
are stretched wide and unseeing, focused on some point far beyond the twinkling ceiling lights.
Next to him on the concrete lies something… What is it? It’s rectangular and has red and—
It’s a playing card.
Excerpted from The Kill Club by Wendy Heard, Copyright © 2019 by Wendy Heard. Published by MIRA
Wendy Heard, author of Hunting Annabelle , was born in San Francisco and has
lived most of her life in Los Angeles. When not writing, she can be found hiking the Griffith Park
trails, taking the Metro and then questioning this decision, and haunting local bookstores.
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