Ex-cop Willa Pennington (What Doesn’t Kill You, 2018) continues her quest to earn her private investigator’s license.
Angry that her dad has sent her on a phony stakeout to teach her the ropes, Willa lashes out at everyone in sight, including her beau, Seth Anderson, who promptly disappears on a secret mission for the government. At the mixed martial arts class she takes to relax, she meets Aja, a high schooler who’s being stalked by an ex-boyfriend. While helping her, Willa also gets a call from Jan Boyd, a cop friend who asks her to reinvestigate a cold case: the death of Amanda Veitch, who died 17 years ago from blunt force trauma. Although the two cases ought to keep Willa pretty busy, her true vocation is reliving past traumas: her abandonment as a child by her mother; the death of her best friend; and her recent brush with death in a fire set by a neo-Nazi maniac. Nightmares, cold sweats, and endless rehashings of the past compete with heroic action sequences. Willa wonders why today is “Make Willa Deal with Uncomfortable Emotions Day.” Readers will wonder why practically every day is Make Willa Deal with Uncomfortable Emotions Day.
Hix seems lost in uncharted territory as she forges her way into hard-boiled emo. What doesn’t kill you seems to leave you angry, volatile, and slightly unhinged.