Well what great timing! This was a fantastic and addictive read, my favourite kind so finishes off my reviewing for 2015 on a high note.
The Darkest Secret reminds me a little of a Jilly Cooper novel but with secrets instead of bonking. Seriously everyone is keeping them, from themselves from others despite living in a claustrophobic world of rich and successful families all dependent on each other in some way.
Little Coco Jackson has gone missing from her father’s house, except it’s only his house until he sells it and in fact he’s just road testing it for his fiftieth birthday – yes this author sets the scene so very well; fifty year old man and a daughter called Coco, who can’t paint a picture with just that snippet? Sean Jackson is a successful property developer, living with his second wife Claire and their twin daughters, Ruby and Coco, he has a mistress waiting in the wings, who just happens to be one of the guests at his birthday party along with Charles Clutterbuck a MP and his wife Imogen, the PR couple Robert and Mara along with Dr James Orizio with his bag of tricks and his wife Linda. The party is completed with a selection of small children and in their entirety they descend over the seaside property for the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2004. Sean’s two teenage daughters from his first marriage. Indy and Millie, departing early sure that their father and certainly their Step-Mother don’t want them there.
The book opens with an email, this was before Facebook and the like, to spread the word about missing Coco, a massive police investigation followed but twelve years later when Sean dies she is still missing… The story in the present is told by Camilla Jackson who has the unenviable job of identifying her father, a man she hasn’t seen for years. Are the secrets going to be revealed at the gathering for Sean’s funeral? You bet they are!
Despite the sad nature of the subject matter of this book, the number of pompous and self-absorbed characters there is plenty of dark humour in this book that had me not just gripped, but thoroughly entertained, from the first page and made me reluctant to put it down for the entire four hundred page stint. This is superbly plotted with enough red-herrings to ensure that the reader is never quite sure who they should be watching the closest while the pace is a brisk one, one where the tension never lets up, after all there are plenty of mini-dramas to keep the reader entertained so this book doesn’t suffer with the mid-book slump which sadly seems to afflict psychological thrillers.
Alex Marwood plays a blinding hand with the characters too, I’ve mentioned that some of them weren’t people I’d chose to spend my spare time with, but some of them, given a different perspective I became very fond of, yes, I really did get involved with this book, one of those I was sad to finish and if it weren’t for the fact that The Darkest Secret is due to be published for the kindle on 1 January 2016, with the paperback following on 7 January 2016, it would have made my Top Ten books published in 2015.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to Little Brown Book Group whose generosity in allowing me to read this book has resulted in this gushing review, but only because I loved it so much and I was delighted that this lived up to the brilliant Wicked Girls by the same author.