Jazz will stop at nothing to save her brother.
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 eliminate 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.
Jasmine "Jazz" Benavides, the narrator of this uneven noir thriller set in L.A. from Heard (Hunting Annabelle), loves her 13-year-old brother, Joaquin Coleman, and sees him as often as possible, despite her volatile relationship with his controlling adoptive mother, Carol Coleman, who also raised Jazz after the death of their mother. A religious fanatic, Carol often refuses Joaquin his lifesaving diabetic medicine, keeps him out of school, and locks him in his room with no way to escape, all before disappearing with the boy without a trace. An anonymous caller offers Jazz a "permanent solution": murder a stranger who may be a drug dealer, rapist, or an abuser and, in turn, someone will murder Carol. As Jazz weighs the moral ramifications, she learns that such murders, dubbed the Blackbird Killings by the police, have been going on for a while. The loving relationship between Jazz and book-smart Joaquin adds realism, as does the background of their connection. The clever finale makes up in part for an unbelievable villain and an unwieldy center that substitutes violence for real storytelling. Fans of Stranger on the Train scenarios will find much to like.
An Action-Packed Thrill Ride
Favorite character: Joaquin Benavides Coleman
Joaquin is a 13-year-old boy to whom life handed a basketful of lemons. Instead of letting those lemons define him, he rose above them and is a paragon of all that is good. He proudly displays a Miley Cyrus poster, loves hanging out with his friends, and cannot wait to attend a STEM high school in the fall. Good-natured and kind, he also shows an enormous amount of inner strength that earned my admiration.
What I Like About The Kill Club
The Kill Club is an excellent psychological thriller that will leave you with an unsettled feeling when it ends. There is the traditional, what-will-the-person-with-mental-health-issues-do-next. But also, that creepiness that takes hold when you realize the lengths that ordinary people (people who stand near you in a store, on public transportation, or any other general location) will go to in extreme situations. The fear of "could it happen to me" has a way of staying with you.
I loved the unexpected plot twist that is jaw-dropping and intense. I am rarely surprised by where plots go, but this story completely caught me off-guard. I love being surprised, and The Kill Club is full of surprises.
The story is about exploring moral ambiguity – more importantly, how far you would go to save the life of a loved one. Is it okay to kill someone if a loved one could die if you don’t? Not cut and dry self-defense case but situations that sit solidly in a moral gray area. For instance, is it okay for someone to steal medicine from a drug store that a loved one needs to survive if he/she can in no way afford it?
The novel demonstrates the plight of the everyman within the legal system. It’s easy to ignore the injustices that happen every day unless you are forced to confront them. The Kill Club seeks to bridge that gap and bring awareness on a much larger scale.
The characters are very well developed. The main character, Jasmine or Jazz for short, is someone you can empathize with even if you have nothing in common with her. She’s grown hard and edgy as a response to life’s challenges, but she has pure love for Joaquin, which is redemptive on many levels. I struggled right along with her when she must decide in a morally ambiguous situation.
What I Wish
I wish for more books like this one. Books that are thrilling, action-packed, jaw-dropping stories and still manage to shed light on social problems that occur across our country and need to be addressed.
To Read or Not to Read
If you love an action-packed thrill ride and can handle psychological creepiness – this is the book for you. I can’t say enough positive things about it! It’s a haunting tale that you will not be able to put down.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.