Hazel Greenlee is stuck in quiet, rusty Black Harbor. She’s falling apart, just like her surroundings.
Hazel is a police transcriber working the night shift. Her 111 words per minute typing skills astound the office crew. Her husband is some kind of ag scientist, studying why the nearby lake is eroding the shore. They barely pass one another in their ratty duplex. Maybe that’s for the best. The night shift is like a dream for Hazel. The whole town is like a bad dream – even though they’ve lived there for two years, Black Harbor isn’t home. Her husband isn’t the man she knew. Nothing is right. She’s sensed the wrongness before, but when a string of children overdose on prescription drugs that truth is bright as the sun she never sees. As Hazel is drawn into the case, she tries to make sense of Black Harbor, her own family, and what she wants out of life. Plus, there’s the murderer running loose!
There is a proper mystery here, but this book is more about the mood and feel than the plot. The references that came to mind were: Dennis Lehane; Mare of Easttown; Opioid, Indiana; and maybe Copland.
Hello, Transcriber is author Hannah Morrisey’s “debut” mystery novel, but it’s obvious that she has spent years developing her craft. She writes like a poet. Not with flowery language, but depth of observation and metaphorical acrobatics. Every page is peppered with little phrases and metaphors that elevate the mundane into something thought-provoking. I found myself mumbling, “Wow, nice…” at several little passages. Her writing ability makes the Acknowledgements even sweeter, when she simply writes to her husband, “I love you more than words.” A high compliment from such a craftsperson!
Morrisey’s The Widowmaker comes out soon. It’s already on my library hold list.