Author: Ren DeStefano
Publisher: Berkley Books
Genre: Mystery& Thrillers
Format: Kindle ARC
No. of Pages: 352
Date of Publication: March 21, 2023
My Rating: 4 Stars
Your next stay-up-all-night thriller, about identical triplets who have a nasty habit of killing their boyfriends, and what happens when the youngest commits their worst crime yet: falling in love with her mark.
Make him want you.
Make him love you.
Make him dead.
Sissy has an...interesting family. Always the careful one, always the cautious one, she has handled the cleanup while her serial killer sisters have carved a path of carnage across the U.S. Now, as they arrive in the Arizona heat, Sissy must step up and embrace the family pastime of making a man fall in love and then murdering him. Her first target? A young widower named Edison--and their mutual attraction is instant. While their relationship progresses, and most couples would be thinking about picking out china patterns and moving in together, Sissy's family is reminding her to think about picking out burial sites and moving on.
But then something happens that Sissy never anticipated: She begins to feel protective of Edison, and then, before she can help it, she's fallen in love. But the clock is ticking, and her sisters are growing restless. It becomes clear that the gravesite she chooses will hide a body no matter what happens; but if she betrays her family, will it be hers?
Identical triplets live a very unconventional life. They find a mark, wait until their mark falls for them, and then kill them. There is no doubt that the story just might make you think twice because that was certainly the case with me.
They are Sissy, Moody and Iris. These are not their birth names, but they are what they go by when they meet the boyfriends that they work hard to make fall in love with them. The problem is, Sissy starts to deter from the plan. Her mark is Edison, a widower that she gets just a little bit too close to. They have a time limit with their mark and the closer Sissy gets to Edison, the more than lines get blurred for her.
The fact that they are identical plays into how the story develops. Although the story is unusual, including things such as violence and murder as well as the bonds of sisterhood and love, and painful pasts play into what happens in this surprisingly thrilling, although a bit disturbing story.
Ren DeStefano presents this remarkable debut novel with aplomb. This book definitely made me think and a sad as it was in some parts, it manage to end on a note of hope.
Many thanks to Berkley Books and to NetGalley for this ARC for review. This is my honest opinion.
Please enjoy the following excerpt:
If not for my sisters and the tragic circumstances of our upbringing, I would be living an empty life and bound for heartbreak.
It started when we were nineteen.
Iris called me, frantic, in the middle of the night. She had her own apartment above a laundromat in downtown Clovis. She was so proud of that place—all five hundred square feet of it. She kept it tidy and burned incense at all hours to hide the smell from the dumpster in the alley outside her bedroom window. At night, there was the persistent throb of the bar across the street, the music loud enough to rattle the porcelain angel figurines on the shelves. They’d come with the place, and Iris had decided they made her living room look homey—a word she’d never used before, because we’d never had a home.
“Just come,” she’d sobbed and then hung up. All of my calls went straight to voicemail. I sped the whole way over there, sure that someone had just climbed up the fire escape to murder her. But what I found was a different sort of violence. Blood, deep and dark, pooled on her oriental rug, and splattered across the angel figurines.
She’d been sleeping with her old high school guidance counselor—a fifty-one-year-old married father of two. He strung her along for months, promising to leave his wife. He broke her heart a hundred times, and then Iris plunged a kebab skewer through his.
“You watch all of those crime shows,” Moody said, emerging from the kitchen with a bottle of bleach she’d found under the sink. “Help us make this go away.” We moved with a practical calm, the three of us, and when it was through, Iris’s ill-fated lover was resting in six garbage bags, wound tightly with duct tape. If it were only one of us, or even two, I’m sure we would have been caught. We would have missed a detail. But we were a perfect team, the three of us.
After a lifetime of being torn apart, we were finally together, finally able to help one another in all the ways we never could when we were being jostled helplessly by the foster system. All those years of loneliness, of wanting, of being kept apart, had brought us to this desperate moment. Knee-deep in the water of the San Joaquin river in the velvet black night, we weighed the pieces of the man with rocks, and a promise started to form. In the coming days, it slowly became obvious what we needed to do.
We wouldn’t deprive ourselves of love, but our hearts would be weapons. We would love the men we found completely and without inhibition, put a lifetime into our brief time together. Live out every fantasy we desired. And then we would kill them.
There would never be another lover to break one of us. We would break all of them first.
“Excerpted from HOW I’LL KILL YOU by Ren DeStefano published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2023 by Ren DeStefano”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ren DeStefano lives in Connecticut, where she was born and raised. When she’s not writing thrillers, she’s listening to true crime podcasts and crocheting way too many blankets. Learn more at: https://laurendestefano.com.