Hello, Transcriber, by Hannah Morrissey

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Hannah Morrissey, St. Martin’s Press, and Minotaur Books for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Hannah Morrissey impresses in this powerful novel, where a woman in a new position within a small police force takes on a significant role in a baffling set of murders. Thrust into the middle of it all, Hazel Greenlee moves from simply documenting the reports the police detectives make to being a key part of solving the case, all while getting herself into a great deal of personal trouble. With well-crafted plot lines and impressive narrative momentum, Hannah Morrissey ensures that readers take note of her style.

It’s never easy being new in town, even less so when everyone seems to know one another. Such is the case for Hazel Greenlee, who has recently moved to Black Harbor, Wisconsin. When she takes a job as a police transcriber, she presumes it will be all work and that she will have to sit on the secrets that flow into her ears, but it ends up being much more than that.

The death of a young boy from an overdose is bad enough to hear through the transcription machine, but when Hazel connects with one of the detectives, it take on a new horror. How someone could have coaxed a young boy to take pills and then later tossed him into a Dumpster is unreal, though it is all too true.

As the days progress, Hazel finds herself drawn to one of the detectives on the case, with secrets of his own. Risking everything, Hazel puts herself in the middle of the case, seeking to know more than is revealed to her in investigative reports. Soon, she finds herself having crossed many lines, some of which she cannot erase, which is sure to cause issues both at work and home. As a killer remains on the lam, it will take Hazel’s intuition and perhaps a little luck to stay out of the crosshairs, though she is already in a great deal of trouble away from the precinct. A great story that kept me wondering until the final chapter, proving that Hannah Morrissey is another author to keep on my radar.

I love police procedurals, as many who have seen a number of my reviews will know. However, many of these novels seem to use the same format, so I look for unique takes in order to really make them worth my while. Hannah Morrissey delivers with an angle I would have not thought could work, that of a transcriptionist who is seeing and hearing of the crimes and fallout through recordings she must put into typed words. Morrissey does well to add depth and flavour to the story throughout, keeping the reader guessing as to how things will go and where the plot twist will take things. I am eager to see where things go from this debut.

Hazel Greenlee is a great character that connects easily with the reader. She’s got some issues through which she must work, but is also keen to make her mark. With some backstory tossed in amongst a great deal of character development, Hazel works her way into the middle of the Black Harbor community with ease. There is still much about Hazel that has not been revealed, so I can only hope Morrissey has more to come before too long.

Unique takes on crime thrillers is a sure way to distinguish one’s self in a genre that is supersaturated. Hannah Morrissey does well to show that she’s not only here to make her mark, but be memorable in doing so. There is much to praise within this novel, not the least of which is a strong narrative that keeps pushing ahead. Morrissey develops great characters, some likeable while others are truly sinister, without getting too wrapped up in them so as to hinder the story. The transcriptionist angle was genius and adds depth to the plot, as long as the reader can stomach reading some actual dialogue that includes dictated sentences (complete with verbalised punctuation). This was a great novel that kept me wondering and I can only hope that Hannah Morrissey has more to come before long.

Kudos, Madam Morrissey, for a fabulous debut. I am eager to see where you go with this premise in the coming years.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/hello-transcriber-2/

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons