A dead woman’s cherished trinkets become pieces to a terrifying puzzle.
Mickie Lambert creates “digital scrapbooks” for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren’t forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman’s last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d’art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain—twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.
But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia’s past alone.
It’s becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.
My thoughts on These Toxic Things
These Toxic Things has a great premise. Mickie helps people record the past using technology to store their favourite memories. She loves her job. And when she meets her latest client, Nadia, she falls in love with her too. How could you not, an old woman who has spent her life holding onto other people’s prized possessions only to now be losing her memories because of Dementia? It’s a tragic story and Mickie immediately wants to help.
What she couldn’t have predicted was that Nadia ends up dead – and that she would still be asked to complete her memory box. At first, this makes her anxious – it feels disrespectful. Then her anxiety grows as she starts to realise that Nadia may not have been quite who she seems. And that someone is after her.
There were a lot of threads to this story that seemed to run parallel and then together and then parallel again. It made it a bit confusing at times, though not enough to put me off, and Rachel Howzell Hall does a good job wrapping everything up in the end (although I have to admit I did see the ending coming). What she didn’t do as good a job of is getting me to like Mickie. She was a little bit spoilt, a little bit selfish, and people seemed to cut her a lot of slack that didn’t seem quite ‘right’. Again, it didn’t put me off, but it did mean I couldn’t completely connect with the book.
Where that leaves me is with a book I liked but didn’t love. A solid 3 stars, maybe pushing 3.5 – have you read it – what did you think?
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