The Widowmaker by Hannah Morrissey #BookReview #Mystery #Thriller

Welcome to my 1,000th post! 🍾🥂

A wealthy family shrouded in scandal; a detective tasked with solving an impossible cold case; and a woman with a dark past collide in Hannah Morrissey’s stunning Black Harbor mystery, The Widowmaker.

Ever since business mogul Clive Reynolds disappeared twenty years ago, the name “Reynolds” has become synonymous with “murder” and “mystery.” And now, lured by a cryptic note, down-on-her-luck photographer Morgan Mori returns home to Black Harbor and into the web of their family secrets and double lives. The same night she photographs the Reynolds holiday get-together, Morgan becomes witness to a homicide of a cop that triggers the discovery of a long-buried clue.

This could finally be the thing to crack open the chilling cold case, and Investigator Ryan Hudson has a chance to prove himself as lead detective. If only he could stop letting his need to solve his partner’s recent murder distract him. But as Morgan exposes her own dark demons, could her sordid history be the key to unlocking more than one mystery?

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

The Widowmaker is a complex and dark murder mystery that left me guessing until the end.  A cop shot in a quickie mart, a car belonging to a missing wealthy man discovered in the lake with a dead body inside, and the photographer who had the most challenging life imaginable all come together to form a complex story with a perfect ending.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

I am intrigued by the skeleton key in ice on the cover, but the title makes me think of a political thriller.  The description matches the image on the cover and sounds like a juicy, fat mystery just waiting to be read by someone like me who loves puzzles.

Actual Reading Experience:

I found this story to be one I couldn’t put down, even though it reached a point where I wanted to do so.  The story gets very dark and disturbing in the middle, and right when I had reached the point where I thought I would have to put it down and not pick it up again, it switched back to focusing on the mysteries, leaving the past in the background.  It is definitely worth sticking with it through the darkness, though, as the mysteries are infinitely complex and harrowing, and the revelations are absolutely jaw-dropping.

I loved the ending!  It ended just right and in a way that ultimately balanced out other parts of the book.  I love an ending that surprises me, and this was done in a way I never expected.  It indeed was the perfect ending.

I also loved the relationship between Morgan and Ryan.  It is complex and messy, with an air of mystery that felt just right for the story.


Morgan is a photographer who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She is full of street smarts, a true survivor, and a very bold woman who is always quick to cut to the chase.  At first, I don’t know that I liked her very much, but she definitely grew on me.  By the end, I was solidly in her corner – rooting for her and defending her without doubts.

Ryan Hudson is the police detective assigned to discover how a Porshe belonging to a missing man ended up in the lake with a dead body inside – a dead body that is not presumed to be the man in question.  But he can’t help but be distracted by bringing the criminal who shot and killed his former partner and mentor to justice.

Narration & Pacing:

The pacing is quick, mainly, with some slowdowns here and there. The story doesn’t go at break-neck speed, but I was never dissatisfied with it.  The narration is in the third person and focuses on either Morgan or Ryan.  And, the plot is very tightly constructed, lending to the quickness in the pace—everything about the narration and pacing made for a satisfying read.


The setting is Black Harbor, which is on the coast of lake Michigan.  It is described as “a coal-blackened slum rife with murder and mischief,” with a narrow strip on the water where the rich live, mingle at supper clubs, and take their boats out on the lake.  It is a very dichotomous city that is perfect for all of this story’s complexities.

Read if you like:

  • Mysteries with a bit of darkness and grit
  • Police procedural with a good mystery and excellent character development
  • Shocking twists and turns
  • A book you won’t be able to put down

Ratings: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫

Writing Quality10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting10
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

15 Replies to “The Widowmaker by Hannah Morrissey #BookReview #Mystery #Thriller”

  1. I love that cover, and now you’ve got me all kinds of intrigued about the darkness. One of my goals for next year is to add more adult mystery/thriller/suspense to my reading, so you’re my go-to person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the description of the setting, but I’m wondering about darkness in the middle that almost had you putting the book down. A great review, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s talk of suicidal thoughts in the past and the main character’s childhood was beyond horrid though neither of these issues was detailed out too much. The worst was the main character’s choices once she was on her own that were obviously a direct result of her childhood. That’s detailed out.


  3. Congratulations on post 1000!! That cover fits the season right now. Terrific review, Tessa.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, Tessa. I do enjoy books set in Michigan, living so close. I like the various genres with this one, as I enjoy mysteries and police procedurals with great twists. I like that the characters grow on you as well. I was just approved for the audiobook yesterday, so hope to get to it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well – another well written review and now I feel like I need to go get this book. It seems like we share some reading DNA because many of the books you read and review are books I would pick up. I’m eager to read this one.
    Terrie @ Bookshelf Journeys

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one is very good. I would highly recommend it! It’s so fun sharing reading tastes ❤️


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