By Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Gallery/Pocket Books
Publication Date: 10/5/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars +
Top Books of 2015
Fans of Chelsea Cain and Lisa Gardner will devour this edgy thriller about the gruesome secrets hidden beneath a small-town amusement park. From the author of Creep, Freak, and The Butcher, Jennifer Hillier’s “fine knack for creating hideous killers” (Booklist) is vividly on display.
Welcome to Wonderland. By day, it’s a magical place boasting a certain retro charm. Excited children, hands sticky with cotton candy, run frenetically from the Giant Octopus ride to the Spinning Sombrero, while the tinkling carnival music of the giant Wonder Wheel—the oldest Ferris wheel in the Pacific Northwest—fills the air. But before daybreak, an eerie feeling descends. Maybe it’s the Clown Museum, home to creepy wax replicas of movie stars and a massive collection of antique porcelain dolls. Or maybe it’s the terrifyingly real House of Horrors. Or…maybe it’s the dead, decaying body left in the midway for all the Wonder Workers to see.
Vanessa Castro’s first day as deputy police chief of Seaside, Washington, is off to a bang. The unidentifiable homeless man rotting inside the tiny town’s main tourist attraction is strange enough, but now a teenage employee—whose defiant picture at the top of the Wonder Wheel went viral that same morning—is missing. As the clues in those seemingly disparate crimes lead her down a mysterious shared path of missing persons that goes back decades, she suspects the seedy rumors surrounding the amusement park’s dark history might just be true. She moved to Seaside to escape her own scandalous past, but has she brought her family to the center of an insidious killer’s twisted game? Acclaimed author Jennifer Hillier’s bone-chilling thriller is masterful and fast-paced, hurtling toward a shocking, bloody conclusion.
About the Author
Jennifer Hillier is a full-time novelist who writes about dark, twisted people who do dark, twisted things. Born and raised in Toronto and a proud Canadian, she currently lives in the Seattle area, which is where all her books are set. She currently splits her time between Canada and the US, and is slightly ashamed to admit that she's way more of a football fan than a hockey fan . . . which, she suspects, makes her a bad Canadian.
She loves her husband, her son, her cat, the Seahawks, and Stephen King. Not equally, but close. She's the author of the psychological thrillers CREEP (2011), FREAK (2012), and THE BUTCHER (2014), all published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her agent is Victoria Skurnick of Levine Greenberg Rostan, NYC. Her next standalone thriller, WONDERLAND, is coming October 2015 from Pocket Star.
She blogs about writing, publishing, and life in general at SerialKillerFiles.com.
Connect with Jennifer: Website Twitter Goodreads
A special thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
K I L L E R !
WONDERLAND is a 5 Star+ Top-Shelf Psycho-Crime Suspense Mystery Thriller! "My Top Books for 2015"
Just when I thought Jennifer Hillier could not possibly top The Butcher, landing on my Top 30 Book List of 2014 , she pulls out another show stopper. Someone better grab the film rights to this Wonder, ASAP!
No one can do creepy, and twisted, like Canadian, JH. Having read and LOVED: Creep, Freak and The Butcher, was SOOO excited to receive an early reading copy. Definitely worthy of the hype, plus more- and what a dynamite cover; definitely ranks "tops" for covers of the year.
Now, to the down and dirty, twisted roller-coaster ride.
By viewing the front cover, you see intrigue, magic, clowns, amusement, thrills, excitement, and mystery. What you do not see behind the facade of Wonderland and the small town, of Seaside, Washington, its preppy young faces, purple shirt crisp uniforms, and winning smiles, . . is a serial killer.
Of course, there is the Clown Museum, home to creepy wax replicas of movie stars and a massive collection of antique porcelain dolls, and did I mention hidden, dungeon, and tunnels? Spine-tingling. Everyone wants to work at Wonderland.
Most of the management and ownership of this well-known amusement park---for generations past, have been victims of a sexual predator. Even the prior owner of Wonderland, Jack Shaw, now deceased, preyed on young boys and used them for this advantage.
Many of his once victims, now grown– have returned to Wonderland, to demonstrate life goes on, by working in management or ownership. The police department seems to cater to Wonderland's needs, since without this business, the town would have no jobs, revenue, or nothing to attract tourists.
Everyone has a secret. Many have a dark past. They are disguised; successful, handsome, beautiful, and the worst kind of scary, you would not be aware of their addictions, love/hates, demons or obsessions. They look like normal, the guy or the girl next door.
Meet the main characters:
A femme fatale, CEO, of Wonderland Bianca, a cougar in her late thirties, loves young teenage blonde boys. She lures them with her position, offering promises, advancement, while using her sex appeal and alluring evil seduction. When she is tired of them, they are discarded like the trash, and on to the next. She leaves behind a string of sex crazed teenagers and men. Can we count, how many? How does she have time to do her real job?
A MIA grimy creepy night security guard, of Wonderland, Glenn loves porn and is not playing with a full deck. Why is he still working here after all these years? What does he know? Is he capable of murder? Where was he the morning of the murder of Homeless Harry and the missing boy wonder, Blake? Is his mom protecting him?
VP of Operations, Oscar Trejo, best friend with the new owner, Nick (who is sending emails and traveling). Good-looking and intelligent, he appears to be rather protective of the CEO, Bianca, yet he longs to get to know Vanessa a little better.
The new Deputy Chief, with her own demons, Vanessa Castro has left Seattle behind for a new start with her teenage daughter, Ava and younger son, John-John in Seaside. It is her first day as deputy police chief and everything falls into her lap on day one.
There is an unidentifiable homeless man rotting inside in amusement park; and now a teenage employee with a photo going viral on the top of Wonder Wheel the same morning—now he seems to be missing?
The mayor, Frank Greenberg was a best friend of Vanessa’s late husband, and she has to do a good job to make him proud. Of course, as the book opens she is getting a little action of her own in the sack, which could complicate things, when she finds out his identity.
To make matters worse, her fourteen year old daughter, Ava is now working at Wonderland with a janitor stalker on her trail and has eyes for a sexy teen new employee.
As the book opens, Wonderland normally a sea of moving bodies, noise and energy; is totally inanimate, dead. Blake, a disgruntled young teen employee, the social media king, wants to give his last FU to Wonderland, by climbing up the Wonder Wheel and taking selfies to tweet. He plans on this being his last day at work, and wants to make an impression with his middle finger, displayed promptly. It was only 5 am, before the park opens; however, he happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
A murdered homeless man with his face eaten off left at the park, and the Wonder Boy, missing in action on the same day. After further investigation, she finds a number of young boys, all blonde, age eighteen, which have gone missing over the last eight years. They all worked at Wonderland? It appears the police department have many cold cases and looks like they did not do a lot of investigating. What is the connection?
Vanessa is tough, and determined to get to the bottom of this mystery—a dangerous serial killer. She continues to balance her work and personal life, as a single mom. She refuses to allow the politics of small town and connections between the police department and Wonderland, to get in her way.
Her head is spinning and this small town is anything from dull. Between the all the cold cases, the parents of the boys demanding answers, her strained relationship with her daughter, the weird relationship with Oscar, and the pressures of the job, mayor, and chief of police; Everyone expects her to find the serial killer before he, or she strikes again.
WOW! One fast-action heart-pounding intense page-turner. With many red herrings, mixed with, wit, and contemporary social media fun -----keeping you guessing until the end! Loved Vanessa’s character; hope we see more of her in the future, as well as Ava.
For all you Freak & Creep fans, you will adore revisiting with Seattle PD Officer, Jerry Isaac, (love him), with the scarred neck and tortured speech, who comes back to town, to help out Vanessa with a case he worked on years ago in Seaside.
Being pregnant and giving birth, during the writing of Wonderland, did not slow down Hillier, the serial killer queen of fiction. Your twitter fans, and bloggers offer a special “thank you” for your brilliant execution once again, just in time for Halloween! Trust me, you need to buy; one you will not want to miss; A wild twisted ride!
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My Top 30 Book List of 2014