Skip to main content

Things We Do in the Dark


Things We Do in the Dark

Award-winning author Jennifer Hillier has been a rising star in the thriller genre for years. But she has proven just how unrelenting, chilling and unforgettable she can be with THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK, which is sure to be her breakout hit.

“She murdered him she murdered him oh my God she’s a murderer!” These are the first words that Paris Peralta hears when she comes to on her bathroom floor, bloodied and holding a straight razor. The body of her husband, comedian and sitcom star Jimmy Peralta, lies in a bathtub nearby, soaking in a pool of blood.

As anyone who has worked in or near public relations can tell you, these are not good optics, especially not for a Filipina woman 20 years her famous white husband’s junior. But Paris is sure she didn’t kill him. They loved each other. She signed an airtight prenup when they married, granting her only one million dollars should they ever divorce --- certainly not enough to commit murder. But Paris has a far more important reason to avoid any media time. She killed someone 19 years ago, and only one incredibly dangerous person knows.

"THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is a meticulously plotted thriller that reads like a masterclass in suspense writing.... Hillier’s hold of her plotlines is so structured and assured that they provide the oomph of two full-length books with the intrigue of one indivisible plot."

Jimmy’s death is perfectly poised to take the nation by hold. After decades of addiction, depression and failed starts, he had just launched an explosive comeback on Netflix competitor Quan. His assistant, Zoe (the screamer who so helpfully provided Paris’ first indication that she would be accused of the murder), had been working overtime to make Jimmy’s comeback go viral, and this meant throwing Paris’ name in the spotlight too. On top of that, Jimmy and Paris’ home is right across from a popular tourist viewpoint. So not only was the media present during the arrest, several tourists --- and their Facebook, Twitter and TikTok followers --- were as well.

Lucky for Paris, there is one person who believes she didn’t kill Jimmy: his best friend, Elsie Dixon, a practicing lawyer. Elsie is ready to defend her, but as secrets about Jimmy’s net worth emerge, it becomes clear that this will be a difficult case to win. As Paris prepares for the media onslaught and the headlines screaming “Gold digger!” she receives a lavender, birthday card-sized envelope from a women’s prison in Sainte-Elisabeth, Quebec. The sender is Ruby “Ice Queen” Reyes, one of Canada’s most notorious killers, who has been imprisoned for years for the murder of her married banker boyfriend. She is also the mother of the woman Paris killed almost two decades ago. And she just became eligible for parole.

With news that Ruby is being released from prison, calling herself a #MeToo victim rather than a vicious murderer, Paris isn’t the only one who will be keeping a close eye on her. Drew Malcom is a former journalist and current true-crime podcaster. Although he has covered everything from missing persons to Chinatown gangs, he has one very good reason for never once covering the Ice Queen herself (I’ll let you imagine how she got that nickname --- take whatever you’re imagining and make it 10 times more graphic). Drew was once best friends with Ruby’s daughter, Joey. Only hours after an argument that put their friendship (and potential romance) at risk forever, Joey died in a fire. Now that Ruby is being released, Drew feels he has an obligation to tell the world that before Ruby was a femme fatale murderer, she was a monstrous mother who beat, belittled and abused her daughter at every turn.

As Drew looks deeper into Ruby’s and Joey’s pasts, he starts to notice inconsistencies in the latter’s death. At the same time, Paris watches her entire world fall apart as her past --- and Ruby --- creep closer and closer. As Hillier writes, “Because while you can reinvent yourself, you can’t outrun yourself,” and Paris is about to find out just how true that statement is. With every turn and shocking reveal, Hillier draws readers closer to an explosive, knockout ending that will upend every hunch, guess and wild theory you may have.

THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is a meticulously plotted thriller that reads like a masterclass in suspense writing. Shifting timelines are not uncommon in suspense fiction, but Hillier’s hold of her plotlines is so structured and assured that they provide the oomph of two full-length books with the intrigue of one indivisible plot. She writes her characters with pure authenticity and vulnerability, and then drops them into a gritty storyline that begins with a body and somehow still gets creepier and more intense with every page --- not an easy feat when you’ve started with a murder. On top of that, she weaves in timely themes of consent, sexual abuse, true crime, celebrity and so much more. Even better, she populates her thriller with diverse characters, the likes of which have been increasingly common in literary fiction but are often ignored in genre fiction.

Simply put, THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is an absolute gem. Although Hillier’s fans have been raving about her talents for years, I have no doubt that her latest will push her firmly and absolutely into the realm she deserves, right next to greats like Gillian Flynn, Megan Abbott, Riley Sager and Carola Lovering.

Reviewed by Rebecca Munro on July 22, 2022

Things We Do in the Dark
by Jennifer Hillier