cover image These Toxic Things

These Toxic Things

Rachel Howzell Hall. Thomas & Mercer, $24.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-5420-2747-2

Digital archaeologist Michaela Lambert, the narrator of this exceptional thriller from bestseller Hall (And Now She’s Gone) has scheduled a meeting with Nadia Denham, the owner of an eclectic shop in a seedy Santa Barbara, Calif., shopping mall, who’s in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. Nadia has paid $5,000 to Michaela’s company, Memory Bank, for the Mega-Memory Package, a holographic “next-generation digital scrapbook that will recall those special places she’s visited as well as souvenirs, pictures, and objets d’art that she’s acquired.” The two hit it off, and an appointment to begin the project is set for later that evening. When Michaela arrives at the shop, she finds that Nadia dead, apparently a suicide. As Memory Bank has already cashed Nadia’s check, Michaela decides to proceed with the project, having all the materials she needs and despite the strenuous objections of Nadia’s shop manager. Meanwhile, a serial killer is on the loose, Michaela is sure she’s being stalked, and disturbing revelations about her own life are surfacing as she delves into her mother’s past in order to create a digital scrapbook. This cleverly plotted, surprise-filled novel offers well-drawn and original characters, lively dialogue, and a refreshing take on the serial killer theme. Hall continues to impress. Agent: Jill Marsal, Marsal Lyon Literary. (Aug.)