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When I’m Dead by Hannah Morrissey

When I’m Dead

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by Hannah Morrissey

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Quick take

This twist-filled and visceral chiller will have you wondering how well we can ever truly know those we hold dearest.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Psychological


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MultipleNarrators

    Multiple viewpoints

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Puzzle


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Whodunit



On a bone-chilling October night, Medical Examiner Rowan Winthorp investigates the death of her daughter’s best friend. Hours later, the tragedy hits even closer to home when she makes a devastating discovery—her daughter, Chloe, is gone. But, not without a trace.

A morbid mosaic of clues forces Rowan and her husband to question how deeply they really knew their daughter. As they work closely to peel back the layers of this case, they begin to unearth disturbing details about Chloe and her secret transgressions . . . details that threaten to tear them apart.

Amidst the noise of navigating her newfound grief and reconciling the sins of her past, an undeniable fact rings true for Rowan: karma has finally come to collect.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of When I’m Dead.
When I’m Dead



You’ll love me more when I’m dead.

The memory of her daughter’s words makes the hair on the back of her neck stand up. Or perhaps it’s just Black Harbor and the way she can’t help but feel chilled to the bone whenever she finds herself skulking in its shadows. Eighteen years in this purgatory; Rowan would have thought she’d be used to it by now.

It could be that there are some things you never get used to: babies in dumpsters, brains smeared on sidewalks, junkies lying on the lawn, their last needle offering a stiff salute from their basilic vein.

Dead girls in gullies.

Shards of white glint on the river rocks, little snowflake fractals. But it’s only mid-October in Wisconsin, which means it’s too early for anything but hoarfrost. The broken triangles are teeth, knocked out of the skull of her daughter’s best friend.

Madison Caldwell lives just around the bend, a handful of houses down.


Rowan shines her flashlight on the corpse. It stares up at a starless sky, head nesting on tendrils of blond hair. The skin is snowy and soft; the eyes float in pools of plum-colored bruises. Crouching low, Rowan flutters the eyelashes and receives no response. She presses two fingers to the victim’s neck, then, and feels nothing. After she lifts them, her prints stay there in white, blanching the skin. Next to them is a red mark. Rowan squints and leans closer. A hickey?

She turns the victim’s head and examines the other side. A second mark peeks from beneath the hood. With her work phone, she snaps a picture of each injury, and hears the sound of leaves shuffling as an evidence technician crouches to place a yellow placard by what appears to be a set of house keys. No chance they belong to the killer. They wouldn’t get that lucky.

The scene is crawling with law enforcement. There are ten officers with flashlights and black memo pads, including the four members of the Violent Crime Task Force. At least two officers must have gone to notify the parents. It’s a responsibility usually reserved for a sergeant or lieutenant, but they’re too shorthanded to be concerned about formalities. A fifteen-year-old girl is dead. Someone has to tell her parents.

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Why I love it

When I’m Dead opens with a macabre crime: a girl has been murdered, her broken teeth scattered across the ground. Soon it’s discovered that her best friend, Chloe Winthorp, is missing. But Chloe’s disappearance is not the only thing that terrifies her parents, both veteran investigators—because it’s not clear whether Chloe is a victim or the perpetrator.

As the story shifts between those who are closest to Chloe, we peel back the intricate layers of her life. Chloe’s parents are forced to question just how well they actually know their daughter, and what secrets she was keeping from them. Then another body surfaces and the investigation takes on new urgency.

The dark heart of this novel lies in its exploration of a young woman’s private world, and of a family that began to fracture long before she vanished. Hannah Morrissey deftly balances emotional depth with a twisting mystery and ever rising tension that had me absolutely in its grip.

And of course, all of this transpires in the bleak and starkly drawn town of Black Harbor, a place that exudes a sense of peril all on its own. With its late October setting, complete with pumpkin carving and a visit to a haunted house, I found it the perfect book to curl up with as the days get shorter and darkness creeps in. If your fall vibe includes graveyards and scary stories, you won’t want to miss this one.

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Member ratings (17,062)

  • Destiny C.

    Endicott, WA

    A plot that keeps you guessing, just when I thought I figured it out, something changes my mind! Pulls you in to the point of no turning back… can’t put it down… sucked in to the end. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Lexi J.

    Fairview Park, OH

    I loved everything about this book! Super creepy, and left my jaw on the floor. I honestly wasn’t sure who the murderer was for most of the book, and was left satisfied in the end ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

  • Morgan C.

    Palatine, IL

    Like this thriller & Rowan’s character, a medical examiner who’s daughter goes missing after saying “You’ll love me more when I’m dead!”. Dad is a homicide detective. Reminded me of Long Bright River.

  • Brandy D.

    Saltsburg, PA

    I was hooked right away. I loved the different perspectives of each character. I knew something wasn’t “quite right” within the storyline but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It kept me on my toes. 🖤

  • Kianna R.

    Metamora, MI

    I don’t ever read thrillers—but Morrissey’s got me hooked now. Compelling & heartfelt, this about more than murder. It’s about the fragility of life, love, & what happens if neither is a guaranteed.

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