A character led psychological thriller that packs a real punch.
Joe and Hannah Marsden’s fourteen year old daughter has disappeared. Lily hasn’t returned from school and although at first the police were sure she’d turn up soon we first meet Joe as he returns from giving a press conference to appeal for her to get in touch. Hannah didn’t attend, doesn’t want Joe near her and anyway we all know that the police watch the behaviour of those who are part of the televised appeals.
Loretta is the Family Liaison Officer assigned to the Marsden family there to support them through the difficult time, but also to observe, and there is plenty of observations to make that’s for sure. Hannah is distraught, completely poleaxed by her grief whereas Joe secretly wants to escape the confines of the now claustrophobic house but he also wants to know what has happened to Lily.
Our final narrator is Rosie Weatherall, a mysterious addition to the storyline, she is watching the news story of Lily’s disappearance unfold with horrified interest as it reminds her of the disappearance of her elder sister Alice. Rosie’s father has recently been released from prison, convicted of killing Alice fifteen years previously. After struggling to accept that her adored father, a widely respected classical musician could have ever committed such a crime, her mother finally convinced her that it was the case, the evidence was squarely against him.
With secrets bursting to be set free, Her Deadly Secret makes for full-on compulsive reading ably assisted by our three brilliant narrators; Loretta, Joe and Rosie. All three are searching for the truth but that’s not easy when those in the know are masters of deception.
A good psychological thriller has characters you can believe in, even when they may behave in strange ways due to the abnormal circumstances they are plunged into. I absolutely believed, although of course my suspicions were on high alert for criminal behaviour, that these were genuine people. Books in this sub-genre should also follow the unwritten rules of crime writing that the outcome can’t come out of left-field. It is even better when there are some red-herrings to keep the reader wondering. I’m pleased to state that all these conditions were met, and more. Even the minor characters, such as Lily’s own secret boyfriend was believable all the more so because many of these held conflicted beliefs which is always one of the biggest problems for a writer to convey without losing credibility for their creations. But we all can believe one thing, whilst suspecting another from time to time, people generally struggle with two conflicting views are presented to them. This is illustrated through one character in the book, who reports another to the police, and then soon apologises to the suspect, realising that what she thinks she saw, could have in fact been viewed in an alternative way. There are many more such examples which for me only had me all the more wrapped up in the family’s nightmare. Added to that was the wonderful backdrop of Hastings, Loretta’s family life and a religious community called The Children of Light which all served to round this off as an immersive read.
I’d like to thank the author and publishers HaperCollins UK for providing me with a copy of Her Deadly Secret, this honest review is my belated thanks to them for the book and the brilliant reading experience which examines the ripples caused for years when a child is murdered. Back in July when Her Deadly Secret was published, the author kindly wrote a guest post for me on how she finds inspiration for her books which you can read here. If you like the sound of this book, it is currently at a bargain price in eBook format so I’d snap it up quickly while I will be adding the author’s previous two books, Mindsight and Her Turn to Cry to my wishlist.