These Toxic Things

Thomas & Mercer: Amazon. Sept. 2021. 430p. ISBN 9781542027472. $24.95; pap. ISBN 9781542027496. $15.95. THRILLER
Hall’s (And Now She’s Gone) new crime thriller follows digital archaeologist Michaela “Mickie” Lambert, who sifts through people’s pasts for a living and transforms their most treasured objects into “digital scrapbooks” containing narration, photos, even holograms. Her newest client, Nadia Denham, is an eclectic bohemian who owns Beautiful Things, a curio shop in a rundown strip mall. Nadia, in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, prepays for Mickie’s “Mega-Memory” package and provides her with 12 mementos and some notes about their provenance. Before Mickie can meet Nadia for further interviews, Nadia is found dead in an apparent suicide. As the police investigation continues, so does Mickie’s project to curate Nadia’s collection. Soon Mickie discerns a disturbing pattern among the artifacts: Each came from a woman who is now dead or missing. Adding to her mounting anxiety, Mickie starts receiving ominous texts and notes telling her to stop what she’s doing. But Mickie doesn’t listen and, bolstered by her family (who may be hiding secrets of their own), she’ll finish the job—even if it kills her.
VERDICT Hall’s latest is a tech-savvy juggernaut of fear and paranoia, rendered quirky and original by the colloquial voice of its millennial protagonist. Some good advice before reading: Make sure the doors are locked.
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