Police transcriber Hazel Greenlee spends her nights listening to detectives detail Black Harbor's most gruesome secrets. An aspiring novelist, she sees writing as her only way out of the frozen hellscape that is Wisconsin's most crime-ridden city. He life, however, is missing that one crucial component: inspiration. That is until her neighbor confesses to hiding the body of an overdose victim. Through the transcriptions of the detective assigned to the case, Hazel gets closer to the investigation and finds inspiration for her novel. But how far will she go for her story?
HELLO, TRANSCRIBER is the debut novel of Hannah Morrissey, and invokes a haunting and atmospheric narrative that is sometimes hypnotic and almost poetic. Her word choices show the meticulous care with which Morrissey treats her prose. Her descriptions, in particular, are detailed with a flourish that, in many cases, is gritty and evocative. The dark and melancholic setting of a city in decline adds to foreboding tone that weaves throughout this character-driven thriller.
Told from Hazel's point-of-view, HELLO, TRANSCRIBER gives the reader a unique perspective, not only into the investigation, but into Hazel's state of mind, her lack of direction, and her social awkwardness. As she delves deeper into the investigation, the reader gets a first-hand account of the toll Hazel's decisions are making on her personal life and her relationships. Morrissey creates an ensemble cast of supporting characters that are interesting, but not necessarily memorable. The romantic elements of the book, although necessary to the plot, did slow the pace down a bit, but not to any degree where the reader might feel the need to set the book aside.
Overall, HELLO, TRANSCRIBER is a solid, compelling debut for an author who has a bright future ahead of her.