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Publisher's Summary

A dead woman’s cherished trinkets become pieces to a terrifying puzzle.

Mickie Lambert creates “digital scrapbooks” for clients, ensuring that precious souvenirs aren’t forgotten or lost. When her latest client, Nadia Denham, a curio shop owner, dies from an apparent suicide, Mickie honors the old woman’s last wish and begins curating her peculiar objets d’art. A music box, a hair clip, a key chain - twelve mementos in all that must have meant so much to Nadia, who collected them on her flea market scavenges across the country.

But these tokens mean a lot to someone else, too. Mickie has been receiving threatening messages to leave Nadia’s past alone.

It’s becoming a mystery Mickie is driven to solve. Who once owned these odd treasures? How did Nadia really come to possess them? Discovering the truth means crossing paths with a long-dormant serial killer and navigating the secrets of a sinister past. One that might, Mickie fears, be inescapably entwined with her own.

©2021 by Rachel Howzell Hall. (P)2021 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic Reviews

“Susan Dalian's narration keeps the tension building in this thriller through her spot-on timing.... Dalian creates believable characters, including the spoiled and petulant Mickie, along with her caring parents and convincingly voiced men. The result is a thrilling mystery.” (AudioFile Magazine)

“Deeply moving, Villa’s debut fills a longstanding need in LGBTQ+ literature for more Latinx characters and a love story between two BIPOC characters. A lovely, important book that deserves a wide readership.” (Booklist, starred review)   

“This cleverly plotted, surprise-filled novel offers well-drawn and original characters, lively dialogue, and a refreshing take on the serial killer theme. Hall continues to impress.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) 

What listeners say about These Toxic Things

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  • Overall
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Ugh - Another DUMB Female Lead

Oh come on! Ms. Howzell Hall wrote one of the smartest books I've read in Now She's Gone. I wonder what happened. Was this an earlier book released? If you listen to this book, prepare to yell out loud -- Oh come on! over and over again. Or, better yet, use your credit on Now She's Gone -- That book is amazing in every way!

11 people found this helpful

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Ho Hum

Almost gave up after chapter 2. I don't care for any of the characters, and when the climax painfully finalized, I wasn't surprised, it was flat. I listened to the Audible of the book, and the narrator read with great inflection. That was probably the highlight. Overall not a bad story to listen to.

5 people found this helpful

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Struggled With the Heroine

Rarely do I have such conflict with a main character and still say that I enjoyed the read. But that's what happened with this well written story of deception, intrigue, and misdirection.

I enjoyed many things about this novel. The characters are diverse, genuine, and full of real emotions and heart. The story line is well paced, with many swivels and swerves that kept my interest. The concept might not be considered exactly unique, but it certainly came in a nice new package with this telling. It's a chilling story, with provocative insights and a slight social justice mindset.

Then there's Mickie. Our heroine has many wonderful qualities. She's very intelligent, well raised, full of a zest for life and a keen sense of curiosity. She tends to see everyone with an optimistic viewpoint, considering most every person she meets to be a potential friend. How could I possibly have a problem with that? I didn't. It was the fact that her youthful enthusiasm and sense of inquisitiveness, combined with her victim's mentality, was difficult to tolerate.

She tends to overthink things regularly, allowing herself to make snap judgments when given just one piece of the puzzle. She leaps at shadows and things that go bump in the night, yet chooses not to tell her family when a genuine threat is present. Not once, but repeatedly. She calls on her family for moral/emotional/physical support at her whim, but chooses odd times to keep silent about potentially threatening events.

Worse yet, when she would recognize a serious threat, her victim's mentality seemed to encourage her to run toward that peril rather than away from it. Yes, she's very intelligent, but not so smart. She apparently has no innate sense of self-preservation. She's the girl in the horror movie that runs into the basement to get away from the killer. Honestly, Mickie reminded me a lot of a woman I knew for years who was well liked but so sheltered she had never truly had an independent thought. So maybe it was a personal issue for me.

Even though I could not relate to the main character, I still stuck with and enjoyed the story. Mickie's family is far from perfect, yet very loving and concerned...and always there for her. Her client, Nadia, is an intriguing personality with a unique collection of favorite things she wants included in her digital scrapbook. Then there are the secrets. They are the commodity on which this story revolves, and it seems everyone here has more than their fair share.

4 people found this helpful

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What a slog

The author does a fair job of creating suspense but you pay for it with a dangerously naive main character and too many parallel story line.

4 people found this helpful

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Not a Thriller

Admittedly it was different. It was just OK, it was not a thriller, maybe a who did it.





Recommendation: Maybe

3 people found this helpful

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Pronounciation All Wrong

The story was fine enough but the writing felt fragmented at times, like words were just missing. I was able to guess the "twist" fairly early on in the book which was kind of a bummer. But the biggest issue for me was the pronunciation of names and other things. As someone who lives in LA, I tend to enjoy books set in places that I can visualize. And while the author tried to include some local artists, the narrator didn't know how to say the names. All you have to do is Google the name and listen to someone else say it. Is this a nit picky thing to say? Maybe. But it was infuriating to me that they couldn't take the time to do that. It really made me want to stop listening to the book altogether.

2 people found this helpful

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I like the book but it was predictable

I really enjoy the authors writing and the characters. I felt the same about this book as well. However it was kind of easy to figure out how it was going to end and whodunits etc. I listened to the end anyway because I really did enjoy the story. I will definitely listen to more of her books. Not sure if I just figured it out because I’m the person no one likes watching movies with because I figure them out , but just for to keep in mind. I am going to listen to another one of her books.

1 person found this helpful

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The main character was lame

I did not like this story. Micki was an awful character. A whiny, spoiled immature brat. She made poor decisions. A waste of my time

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Great premise

Though I was excited to listen ,this book was hard to connect with. A slow pace and unlikeable character are not usual in books I enjoy. The story line was a great idea it just did not work well for me. The last part flew by and many will enjoy it. I am glad I read it.

1 person found this helpful

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Loved the Secret Message in this book

Loved the hidden message above all had to re read to understand how the begging leave clues in the ending I knew from the beginning the chick was the one but this book is like Rachel Howzell Hall last book but only if she got away with it but love how the author had the villain try to rewrite history after forgotten a new remembrance would be there dope story great story great writer love the new narration

1 person found this helpful