“All the Dangerous Things” by Stacy Willingham

Genre: Family Thriller All Dangerous Things
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub. Date: January 10, 2023

A slow-paced thriller is hard to find, so I applaud the author for writing this one. Willingham wrote a story within a story. Although the novel focuses on our protagonist, Isabelle, her husband, Ben, and their kidnapped son, Mason, her traumatic past plays a significant role in the tale. There are two timelines, each with its own mystery. We get a good feel of Isabelle’s childhood and current life. Because the novel doesn’t hint at when or why we jump into the past, at first, the back-and-forth timelines can be challenging to follow. Still, Isabelle’s family back-story with her parents and younger sister, Megan, reads like a ghost story keeping me invested in the tale. In “All the Dangerous Things,” the author explores grief, affairs, marriages, and postpartum depression.

Isabella has been sleep deprived for a year since her toddler son went missing. Willingham adds to the suspense by reminding the reader that lack of sleep can lead to delusions and hallucinations. The author had me wondering if the grieving mother’s perceptions were true or just figments of her imagination. The police have all but given up trying to find her son, and she knows she is a suspect. She takes it upon herself to go around the country speaking at true crime events, telling her story, and seeing if anyone suspicious is in the audience. This is how she meets a true-crime podcaster who takes on a role in the story.

The writing in “dangerous” can be sophomoric at times. However, I enjoyed understanding both timeframes’ mystery solutions, even though one had a predictable twist. I suppose I continued reading this book when the plot became unbelievable is because I got hooked on Isabelle’s childhood. Plus, I prefer watching slow-paced movies, as you can find in foreign films, and reading literary novels, which are typically slow moving. If you want your thrillers at rollercoaster speed, this one is not for you.

I received this Advance Review Copy (ARC) novel from the publisher at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

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