Author: Shannon Curtis
Heart Breaker is a gripping suspense novel with a touch of angst and a smattering of steam. There is an element of ill-advised romance but the main focus is a suspenseful murder investigation.
Harmony Talbot returns from a business trip to discover her cousin, and best friend, murdered in their home. This is the second time there has been a murder in her family and Harmony is determined that this one will not be left unsolved, her family couldn’t survive that pain again.
The cousins were close, they’d been living together since moving out of home, and it helped them both to cope with their widowed mothers. Leona was the caretaker of the family, she looked out for everyone and now that she’s gone Harmony isn’t sure how to look out for everyone and make sure that this time justice is done. Her mother is still haunted by the unsolved murder of the past and she makes Harmony promise that they will catch the killer – whatever the cost.
Harmony has a very special skill set as a digital forensic investigator and it’s a skill set she is prepared to use to help with the investigation, even if sometimes that means working outside the law to do so.
Bern Knight is the homicide detective on the case and he is good at his job, he had to be to make sure everyone forgot the stain on his reputation. He wants to make sure they get the killer, and he tries to promise Harmony they will but she has been through it all before and resents the platitudes.
The lead characters have both been burned by the force in the past and are still working to get over the scars of that which makes them interesting characters to get to know. Following the progression of their interactions is captivating; from the very first time they meet there is chemistry but they both know that it is something they shouldn’t act upon.
It is the murder investigation that is truly gripping. Curtis explores the challenges faced when the killer leaves behind no evidence, the clean up is thorough and the trail is simply a series of dead ends. The police only start to make progress when anonymous tips start arriving, then the discovery of more bodies that fit the same pattern also help.
I was fascinated by the killer, I wanted to get inside his head and understand why. It was clear from the outset that there was a lot going on behind those eyes because there was a very clear methodology and I wanted to understand it.
So many elements of this story grabbed my attention and Curtis weaves them all together brilliantly. It took me a lot longer to read the book than I would have expected but only because I have been finding it hard to sit down and read, given the opportunity I would have devoured this one in a sitting.
The digital forensics were actually quite frightening. The ease with which trackers can be embedded and a digital footprint can be followed. We all know the importance of online security but Curtis explores how easy it can be to get around that. How certain can you ever be of someone you communicate with digitally? The answer should scare you, it sure scared me; not necessarily for me but for my children.
Heart Breaker is a gripping psychological thriller that I loved. It explores the characters intimately and allows us to get to know how the past has affected our characters and why they are behaving as they are in these circumstances. Tense, disturbing and completely fascinating this book will satisfy fans across genres.
Heart Breaker is book #21 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.