I know what you are… Heartbreak Incorporated

Title: Heartbreak Incorporated
Author: Alex De Campi
Rating: 4/5

“Evie stands on the corner of Eighth Avenue, surrounded by the skitter and hustle of a midtown New York morning, uncomfortably aware that she is looking at her last best chance.”

Evie Cross is just another lost New York transplant struggling to pay rent when she stumbles her way into a temping job working for a mysterious lawyer slash private investigator called Misha. A journalism graduate at heart, Evie becomes convinced Misha is responsible for a string of seemingly unrelated deaths, the victims of which were all Misha’s clients at some point.

Desperate to get back in the writing game, she begins investigating her boss only to realise she’s fallen in love with him and that he’s harbouring a much stranger secret than she could anticipate.

I hadn’t been expecting much from Heartbreak Incorporated; while the title and cover was intriguing, the blurb had read like a Mills & Boon novel. I had anticipated something a little more straight from this story but I’m ultimately a sucker for a mystery slash love story so I gave the novel a shot.

Heartbreak Incorporated is an exciting read; once Evie has met Misha, the book sets off at a breakneck pace, we are thrown head first into the world of subterfuge and scandal. Both the reader and Evie are taken on a rollercoaster ride with Misha constantly moving the plot forward with his next reveal about his case.

De Campi is also an excellent writer. This is my first book of hers and I loved her style of writing — similar to Raymond Chandler’s in a way — with her straightforward syntax and almost hardboiled prose. It made Heartbreak Incorporated a really easy read, especially as the plot started building. Rarely was I confused while reading, which is sadly very typical of me.

Evie definitely comes into her own over the novel. While her character does not go through any world-shaking revelations or life changes, her journey causes her motivations to change and shift into something more suited for her new life in New York.

On the other hand, Misha seems to stay more stagnant. While he is first described as cold and callous, the persona quickly drops and he turns out to be a lot softer than he seems. He didn’t seem to melt gradually like an ice glacier, but all at once. The softer persona did make him more likeable as a character, but I would have loved to see more of a progression from him.

Both Evie and Misha are likeable characters even though they did kinda remind me of a more spunky Bella and Edward from Twilight. However, my main complaint about the two of them is that their interpersonal relationships got solved way too easily. Many an argument was waved aside after maybe 20 minutes of stony silence and a quick apology. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that they apologised to each other but their arguments did often involve serious and heavy topics about their relationship that they never really dealt with properly. Personally, I concerned about their communication style but I don’t think that takes away anything from the book.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is that it’s almost immediately established that Misha is bisexual, something which I definitely appreciated since I’m bisexual myself. De Campi also later reveals that Misha is genderfluid. LGBT+ representation is always appreciated and — after checking De Campi’s social media, while I’m not 100% sure if she’s part of the LGBT+ community herself — the way De Campi dealt with Misha’s sexuality and gender identity is definitely one of the more considerate methods in the media.

My main gripe with the depiction is more of a personal opinion, rather than any kind of structural failure: I would have loved to see Misha’s identity, specifically his gender fluidity, come more into play within the novel. The discussion around it only occurs towards the end of the book and it mainly revolves around how it would impact Evie’s concept of her own sexuality. I would liked to see it come up a little bit more, especially once the plot has calmed down.

I would classify Heartbreak Incorporated as a lighter read for those looking to fluff up their To Read lists. De Campi manages to twist the standard mystery novel into something a bit more novel (if you’d pardon the pun) and I would definitely recommend checking it out when it releases later this year.

Heartbreak Incorporated by Alex De Campi will be released 22 June.

This review was first published on The Reader Who Came In from the Heat. Subscribe for more book reviews in your inbox.

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Hui Ying is an undergraduate working on her debut poetry collection and novel. Find them on Twitter at @distanceofio.

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Hui Ying

Hui Ying

Hui Ying is an undergraduate working on her debut poetry collection and novel. Find them on Twitter at @distanceofio.

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