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These Toxic Things


These Toxic Things

Michaela “Mickie” Lambert is a 24-year-old college graduate who works as a digital archaeologist for a startup company called Memory Bank. She interviews clients who want to memorialize their important memories and the memorabilia they have collected to highlight their past. They talk about why their cherished items mean so much to them, and then it’s up to Mickie to write a narrative explaining their choices and how they came to have these articles. The finished product is a high-tech version of a scrapbook comprised of personal memories, holograms, home movies and a display of mementoes described in a story made up by Mickie.

"[W]ith plenty of clues and red herrings, THESE TOXIC THINGS is a compelling read, as well as a rich addition to the author’s impressive body of work."

Mickie’s latest client is Nadia Denham, the proprietor of Beautiful Things Curiosities Shoppe, which offers a mélange of items brought together by the owner as a result of her trips all over the country to flea markets, antique outlets and any place that has pleased her hoarding personality. The two meet and talk, and Mickie gets a sense of what Nadia wants to leave behind. Mickie promises to come back to the store in a few hours. When she does, the police deliver some shocking news: Nadia is dead from an apparent suicide.

Mickie soon learns that the run-down mall where the shop is located is under scrutiny by Peter Weller, a developer who wants all the small businesses out so he can construct a big facility of his own. No one is ready to close their doors, especially Nadia, and they all do their best to fend him off. Rumor has it that the police are not convinced that Nadia took her own life and are trying to confirm if she really wrote the suicide note they discovered. Some in Nadia’s orbit think that Weller could be the prime suspect.

Meanwhile, Mickie has been finding threatening notes under her apartment door, warning her to stop investigating Nadia and her shop. She then becomes convinced that she is being followed. Who could be behind these notes? Who might be stalking her, and why?

As she spends time in the shop curating Nadia’s possessions, which include a music box, a hair clip and a key chain, Mickie meets Nadia’s son, Dexter, and takes a shine to him. Riley, the store’s manager, is not happy with Mickie’s presence at the shop and the whole idea of a memory box. But Dexter is all in favor of it and even offers to help.

Readers will find the names and short biographies of women who have been murdered in the past and may have a connection to Nadia and each other. Is a serial killer reemerging, and does he have Mickie in his crosshairs?

Rachel Howzell Hall infuses her characters with life. They feel like real people with real feelings leading real lives, along with their memories and the memorabilia that enrich them. As the story unfolds, suspense takes over --- and with plenty of clues and red herrings, THESE TOXIC THINGS is a compelling read, as well as a rich addition to the author’s impressive body of work.

Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on September 24, 2021

These Toxic Things
by Rachel Howzell Hall

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2021
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 430 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • ISBN-10: 1542027470
  • ISBN-13: 9781542027472