In Heard’s sophomore thriller (Hunting Annabelle, 2018), a desperate woman at the end of her rope is drawn into an intriguing, but deadly, scheme.
Twenty-eight-year-old Jasmine “Jazz” Benavides has had enough of her ex–foster mother, Carol. Jazz moved out a while back and barely makes ends meet stocking supermarket shelves in between gigs with her band. Her 13-year-old brother, Joaquin Coleman, still lives with the uber-religious and physically abusive Carol, who is actually his adoptive mother. That and Jazz’s criminal record are the reasons that Jazz has been unsuccessful in getting the diabetic Joaquin away from a woman who speaks in tongues and denies him his insulin because she believes God will heal him. When Jazz must literally break into Carol’s house to deliver his medicine, things come to a head, and Carol beats Jazz with a baseball bat. A solution to the Carol problem comes in the form of a phone call from a blocked number. The mysterious caller will make Carol go away for good, but Jazz will have to kill someone else in return. Like pay it forward but with a syringe loaded with deadly poison. The caller explains that the overarching mission is to bring justice to those who were robbed of it by a broken system. With Joaquin’s life on the line, Jazz doesn’t hesitate for long, but when she fails to take down her target, all hell breaks loose. The LAPD is frantically investigating the deaths they’ve dubbed the Blackbird killings, and Jazz is running out of time. The scrappy Jazz can kick ass with the best of them, but the Blackbird killer, who pulls all the strings, seems to have eyes and ears everywhere, and to complicate things, Jazz is falling for Sofia Russo, the sultry assistant principal of Joaquin’s school, who’s dealing with her own problems. Heard expertly blends nearly nonstop thrills and some genuinely surprising twists with spot-on social commentary that makes an impact without getting preachy.
Just try to put this one down.