One Bad Thing by M.K. Hill

Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on One Bad Thing, the latest novel by M.K. Hill which is released today. My thanks to publisher Aries Fiction for the advance copy for review and to Sophie Ransom of Ransom PR for the tour invite. Here’s what it’s all about:

Source; Netgalley
Release Date: 03 February 2022
Publisher: Aries Fiction

About the Book

She thought she’d got away with it. She was wrong.

Hannah Godley is an agony aunt on a London radio show Queen of Hearts. She’s warm and empathetic; a good listener. Her catchphrase is: Be kind, always. But when a stranger phones in to tell a tragic story about her brother who killed himself after he was the victim of a terrible prank by two people, Hannah goes cold. Because she remembers Diane’s brother well. In fact, all these years later, he still haunts her dreams. All because of that one bad thing she did when she was young…

Is Diane just a sad, lonely woman looking for a friend, or does she know what Hannah did, and is looking for revenge? Because as Diane insinuates herself into her life and family, Hannah is going to discover that you can never truly escape that One Bad Thing you did – sooner or later, you’re going to have to pay the price…

My Thoughts

One Bad Thing is the latest thriller from author M.K. Hill and what a twisted tale it is too. Full of intrigue, mystery and tension, and with pitch perfect pacing, it kept me glued to the page right to the very last moment. I always know I am going to be entertained when I pick up a book by this author, that I will meet characters I love and also love to hate, and I was not disappointed. Murder, obsession, revenge … this book has it all, as well as a healthy dose of emotion and regret. If you like a really good mystery, one in which the tension slowly builds a steady pulse to heart pounding conclusion, then this could be the book for you as Mr Hill has done it again.

In this book we are introduced to Hannah Godley, an agony aunt on local radio who is just about to embark upon the next phase of her career, a move to a really high profile TV show. The problem with being high profile is that your whole life is effectively laid out for the public and it turns out there may be moments from Hannah’s past that she is not too keen on being brought out into the open. That openymous one bad thing that will turn Hannah from well loved personality to social pariah overnight. She knows exactly what, and who, Diane is talking about when she calls into the radio show about her brother, but what could possibly be so bad that it turns Hannah’s whole world upside down? That is exactly what we are all about to find out.

I like the way in which the author has carefully woven Hannah’s history into the story, choosing when to reveal pivotal moments to the reader in a way which maximises suspense. By bringing Diane into Hannah’s world really early doors it sets up that suspense, gets you wondering just what can have happened that is so devastating. And clearly was devastating given what Diane reveals to Hannah about her brother. But the story is about more than just this moment in the past and there is a clear sense from the start that Diane is a troubled soul. There is an edge to her that makes you just marginally uncomfortable, an intensity of character that sets the alarm bells ringing.

Hannah was a character I was never quite sure about. One the surface and in the present day she seems to be a dedicated wife and mother, but with that cloud hanging over her past it took a while to trust her. That said, there was a clear feeling of regret and an attempt to distance herself from her rebellious past, one which helped to redeem her as a character. I could sympathise with her position, maybe feel a touch of empathy as who hasn’t done something in the past that they ultimately come to regret? Maybe not that bad, but in the grand scheme of fictional faux pas, I didn’t think what Hannah did was so bad as to deserve what came to pass. And the more we learn about Hannah, about her past, the easier I found it to understand what drove her behaviour, if not to completely forgive it.

But then there are lots of motivations in play in this novel, not all of them easy to see, and Hannah’s personal mistakes are perhaps the least of them. This really is a tale of deception, obsession and misdirection. Not everyone in the book is who they appear to be, and MK Hill casts doubt upon the trustworthiness of pretty much every single one of them in turn. There is an unsettling undercurrent throughout the book, that kind of certainty that I knew what was happening to Hannah, even if she couldn’t see it for herself. That she is in far more danger than she realised and that some of the strange happenings and feelings she experiences have a far darker, and more obvious root cause. She is forced to confront her past but as any good crime fiction fan knows, looking backward is never a good idea. It’s akin to saying ‘I’ll be back’ in a horror novel. Not going to end well. Definitely the case here and serves to amplify the conflict.

This is classic psychological thriller fiction, full of uncertainty, secrets and misdirection, all used to perfect effect. Pacing is perfect, and towards the end as the truth of what is happening is clear and the level of threat against Hannah and her family is at its greatest, you can really feel it picking up. Just when you think you have a handle on what is happening, where the story is going, the author manages to pull a blinder, delivering those final few shocks to keep you on edge. And it is tense to the last, those final pulse pounding scenes driving us, almost literally, to a very satisfying ending. Another fabulous read from one of my go to authors. Definitely recommended.

About the Author

M.K. Hill was a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer before becoming a full-time writer. The first novel in the Sasha Dawson series, The Bad Place, was described as ‘everything a police procedural should be’ by The Times, who also named it as their crime book of the month. He lives in London.

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