Publisher: Midnight Ink
Release: January 8th 2018
I received an advanced copy of What Doesn’t Kill You from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What Doesn’t Kill You is the debut novel of Aimee Hix – a story about an ex-cop turned detective who manages to get herself tangled up in a murder investigation. This is a pretty solid start for a new writer, and I believe that Aimee Hix has a lot of potential. What Doesn’t Kill You is intended to be the first in a series, so I’m curious to see what developments occur in the future.
There was a lot I really liked about this novel- the introduction, the core concept, and many of the characters. I’ll admit that there were some parts I didn’t love – Willa’s conflicting character (more on that in a bit), the complete focus on the main characters (to the expense of the villain – his character is virtually flat), and little odds and ends. For a debut novel though, I’m ok with that balance. I would love to see how Aimee Hix grows as an author.
I mentioned that Willa is a bit conflicting when it comes to her character design – and it’s true. At times she’s so depressed with the loss of her best friend (at first I actually had assumed he was her boyfriend/husband) but she quickly bounces from that emotion to chasing after the late-friend’s brother, Seth (who admittedly is also a friend of hers, but not one she’s kept in touch with). Willa, being an ex-cop, is more than capable of taking care of herself, yet she frequently calls others for help or will literally lean on others for support when she’s nervous. Having her bounce back and forth between damsel in distress and competent cop was disorienting, to say the least.
The other part that threw me off a bit was how Willa was allowed to stomp all over ongoing investigations. During the course of one novel Willa manages to get involved with both a police run murder investigation (admittedly she is the one that found the body; but normally police don’t allow witnesses to see the reports or evidence, let alone allow half the other things she gets away with) and an ATF investigation into a gun ring – yes, the two cases are connected, but I seriously don’t see the police or the ATF allowing her the access she received.
My last disappointment was with the main villain – we get glimpses and hints of him throughout the novel, but on the whole he just felt really flat. He’s essentially a racist Neo-Nazi that runs a gun ring, with no motivation outside of his hatred, which blinds him to the point that he’ll make stupid risks to go after the main character (a bi-racial woman). His rage is his only defining feature, which is fine, villains can be full of hate obviously, I just prefer mine to be a bit more three dimensional.
If one is willing to ignore those few complaints, the novel is actually quite good. Willa can be charming and is a good perspective for us to see the world through. She clearly adores her brother and is feeling very conflicted about the loss of her best friend, while being attracted to Seth. Her emotions are so very human at times; it’s hard not to feel for her. I wish we could have ‘met’ her father rather than having him off scene (erm, page) the whole time – he sounds like a riot.
On the whole I think this was a really great start for a new author, and I can’t wait to see what Aimee Hix comes out with next! I wonder if it’ll be more of the Willa series or something new.