One Little Secret

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

I'm usually torn one way or the other on thrillers: I either love them or I hate them.  One Little Secret is an unusual beast in that it was right down the middle. I really did like the underlying mystery of this novel and the threads that were woven through of everything that happened that night. The novel took a long time to get started; I was consistently confused by the names of the couple and they did not seem to have any distinguishing personalities until far too long into the book. 
Ultimately, it was a rough start and the novel was chock-full of cliches and stereotypes, but I did enjoy it after all.
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Thank you Crooked Lane Books for the Netgalley! I rated One Little Secret five stars. 

Three neighborly couples have decided to go on a weekend getaway while their children are at camp. Susan and Nadal have rented a beach house and invited couples Rachel and Ben and Louis and Jenny in hopes of having a fun getaway. When the couples start having drinks, a secret is shared that rocks everybody and changes the atmosphere. As the awkward nights turns to morning, Rachel's body is found near the beach. Who killed Rachel and why? Detective Sargent Gabby Watkins comes to investigate Rachel's murder and as she speaks to the remaining couples, she finds out that there is more secrets hidden in the circle. 

This is my second Care Holahan book that I have read and One Little Secret has been my favorite of hers so far! I've read plenty of domestic thrillers, but I'm so glad this one had a different twist. It wasn't just about murder and who did it, but it detailed domestic abuse which is something I don't normally encounter. You feel empathetic for the victim and anger towards the abuser while trying to figure out who is Rachel's murderer. 

I will say that the story is mostly about the couple, but it also flips to Gabby investigating a second crime that involves an au pair being drug and raped that eventually hits close to home. I'm not really sure that this part of the story related to the main story. I believe that it could have been taken out completely and just focused on the main story of the couples. I would have understood if there was a correlation between the two, but the only correlation of the two was the Detective Sargent. Since she wasn't the main character, I don't believe that this part of the story was needed.

Despite that, I still believe it was well written and the character development was flawless. Cate Holahan is an amazing writer and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
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3.5*
A little vacation time at the beach with the new neighbors. All the essential goodies…BBQ, drinks sunshine and ocean water. So what could possibly go wrong...right!?

A great time for both kids and parents. Three couples drop their kids off for summer camp. Let the kids go enjoy their freedom from their parents, while the grown-ups enjoy their own version of carefree time! 
As the three couples settle into the exclusive beach house, tensions already are rising! Is it the heat? The long drive? Or are there secrets about to be exposed!

I have to admit I did get a bit confused between the couples, perhaps a scorecard would have come in handy! But to be fair, this book did keep me guessing all the way through and was pleasantly surprised by the ending! 

This was the second book I’ve read by Cate Holahan and will definitely be on the lookout for her next!

A buddy read with Susanne!🌸

Thank you to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and Cate Holahan for an ARC to read and review.
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If I could sum up The Best Lies in one word it would be stressful. I spent so much of this book wanting to take characters and shake them!! And let me just say this isn't a negative thing ... I'm giving this book a 3.5 star rating. You know the authors writing has got you when you're feeling SO many different emotions, and I probably felt ALL of them throughout these pages. But with that being said, that wasn't always a good thing either ... we've got some serious trigger warnings happening here, parental abuse, domestic violence. This was a heavy read to say the least. 

I didn't love the characters, but I don't think we were supposed to. Remy & Elise both made me crazy in their own way ... toxic relationships my friends ... so very toxic. You're in for a very bumpy ride! 

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada and Netgalley for my review copy!
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A getaway to a secluded glass beach house was supposed to be the trip that Susan dreamed of for so long. This trip was her chance to get to know her new neighbors by bonding over some kid-free time. The three couples quickly notice that not everything is how it seems at home for those around them. Marital tensions and work frustrations begin to slowly come to the surface on the first night thanks to the influence of alcohol.

It seems someone let out a secret they should have left hidden. The next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the beach near the house. Local detective Gabby Watkins is put on the case and quickly discovers these families are more connected than meets the eye. The answers are there for Gabby to find, but will the secret spiral and lead to more chaos before the killer is identified?

Cate Holahan’s ONE LITTLE SECRET is a fantastic modern take on a locked room mystery. The reader finds themselves slowly getting to know the three couples who have come together for a relaxing stay at a glass beach house. This trip should be the ultimate getaway, but unfortunately the secrets these couples are keeping bring the trip down in flames. The seclusion of the beach house drives home the feelings of tension between the group, as the only logical explanation is that one of them is the killer.

Holahan chooses to wisely unfold the story between alternating timelines, giving the reader a glimpse into the day of the murder and the day after when the body was discovered. I instantly was intrigued by what was happening in both timelines. In conjunction with alternating the timelines, Holahan also chooses to focus on different couples with these switches. You might be in the middle of learning something about Susan in one chapter and then the next you’ll start to learn about Ben or Jenny. These swaps allows the interconnectedness of the couples to truly shine through. The reader starts to build up their sense of each couple and have those aha moments where you have discovered a link between characters that wasn’t obvious before.

Despite being a book that is heavier on the family drama than the gore, there are still plenty unsettling things either described or hinted at. For those weary of reading about domestic abuse or discussions of rape allegations, I caution you that they are featured in this book. Holahan does a brilliant job of showing the rawness and horror associated with each of these instances, but stays away from becoming overly graphic and changing the mood of the story to a much darker tale. I appreciate that she didn’t brush them aside, but used them to fuel the ultimate end goal of her story.

ONE LITTLE SECRET is a perfect book for fans of BIG LITTLE LIES! It has all the woven together family drama that fans of that style of book or television show will appreciate. I highly recommend adding this one to your TBR for a great bingeable read!

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Crooked Lane Books for sending me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!
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*2.5 Stars*

Going in, this book seemed like it would be right up my alley in terms of the types of mystery/thriller novels I enjoy. So I am disappointed to say that I came out with rather mixed feelings about it—it was just a bit underwhelming for me. On the one hand, this story is packed with a few too many clichés and there are a number of elements of the plot that could have been executed better. On the other hand, it is a fast and fairly entertaining read that still completely held my attention all the way through. All this being said, I have come to the conclusion that the majority of my issues with the narrative are simply connected to my personal taste.

The characters that make up the intriguing cast of this story are definitely not particularly likable people. The tension in the house is incredibly palpable with the constant stilted interactions, nasty thoughts, and full-blown arguments. And they will immediately have you questioning why in the world they would ever agree to go on vacation together for a week in the first place. Despite this, there are still redeemable qualities in some of them and not everyone is quite as bad as they seem in the beginning.

Though my mixed feelings really apply to every aspect of this novel, I thought the characterization was decent. I found most of the characters to be realistic and thought they had a good amount of dimension. The majority of them evolved—along with my opinion of them—as the story progressed and as more of their backgrounds were revealed. Many of them are dislikable, but in a very purposeful way—you are meant to be suspicious of them for a while, and almost all of them do end up acting poorly at some point. I did feel like this only added to their believability. There are a couple characters—only one main one—who are quite one dimensional and somewhat unrealistic, but this is avoided for the most part.

Quite honestly, this novel is absolutely full of adult mystery novel clichés. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Commonly used elements can still make for a great story and I do not think that this is an entirely negative thing when it comes to this one. I do think it is a bit overdone. The topics used to create drama between the couples and in the plot of the novel overall are well written for what they are. There are scenes of domestic abuse that are so realistically portrayed they are quite intense and hard to read. The themes of betrayal are very vivid and the moments of insecurity are extremely relatable. All in all, Holahan truly brings every theme dealt with in this novel to life in a multi-dimensional way.

The issue here—and it is certainly more related to personal preference than an actual problem with the story—is that these commonly used plot points became too overwhelming. Trying to crowd all of them in caused the originality of the narrative to take a significant hit. Every unique moment is overshadowed by tropes like infidelity, abuse, alcoholism, and petty arguments. Though these topics are common in many novels and add a good deal of tension and drama, there needs to be more substance. In this novel, it felt like one was being piled onto the next just for the sake of raising more issues for the couples rather than actually building or progressing the plot.

The most major element of the novel that I feel could have been executed better is the creation of suspicion in the reader’s mind. A mystery novel should allow the reader to form their own thoughts about and distrust in the possible culprits by subtly directing their attention to potential motives. While Holahan does do that in some ways, it lacks a lot of that subtlety and ends up coming across as a bit forced. Though every person in the house is clearly going to be a suspect, there are constant and far too obvious reminders of why they could be guilty. It becomes very over-the-top and detracts from the suspense of the plot.

I definitely think Holahan could have left a little room for the reader to come to their own conclusions about each of the characters’ potential for being the killer. Developing them more naturally and relying solely on laying out personalities and backstories with the progression of the plot would have allowed for this. It is easy to get a clear picture of each character and form one’s own opinion based on the way she does these things over the course of the novel. However, too often the narrative strays toward a less delicate way of weaving in distrust of the characters, instead, pointing the finger quite plainly from one person to the next.

Another element of the novel I feel could have been executed better is the narrowing down of suspects over the course of the story. As the narrative progresses, each of the potential killers is cleared one by one until there are only two left in the end. This approach, for me, sort of killed the suspense. It would have kept me more on the edge of my seat if Holahan had left a few more options in there. This, though, is undeniably something that did not work for me personally and could easily be perfectly fine for a different reader. As it stands, I found the ending to be extremely predictable and it fell rather flat. I have to say, the choice of the killer upset me a bit for a number of reasons as well.

The writing itself is a strong point in this book. I really like Holahan’s writing style—it flows very naturally and is easy to get into. Her descriptions are very vivid and help to pull the reader into the story. She sets the scene for all the mystery and deception well, forming an environment that reflects the tone and emotion of each scene. The narrative never lacks realism, helping to immerse the reader and connect them with the setting and characters.

Now, after all that I have said, it may seem like this reading experience was a primarily negative one, but that is not entirely true. There were a lot of issues I personally had with it but, as I said before, I doubt they would apply to everyone. Personal taste was a big factor here. Also, I was very engaged in the story. I did not absolutely love it but it held my attention from beginning to end and I was truly interested in finding out how everything would resolve. Despite the predictability of many plot points, there were still enough surprises to keep me guessing. Overall, this is a novel that I would recommend giving a try. I know it is something that plenty of readers will find enjoyment in.
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This is a quick read, but it fits the formula of domestic thrillers very well. It's familiar, and doesn't lend much to the imagination of what could happen. 


I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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A vacation with your neighbors where one of you is murdered.  The story took off slow and got more complicated as everyone had a motive for the murder.  The ending wasn’t the best but satisfying enough that some readers might enjoy it.
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A thriller that is part police procedural and and part domestic drama.  Holahan tells the story from multiple points of view and from different time frames of the day before, day of and day after a murder has occurred. This style gives you a very relaxed sort of getting to know the characters style, even though a terrible incident has occurred. A very well developed who-dun-it with family and domestic drama.
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Description from the Publisher:
Everyone has a secret. For some, it’s worth dying to protect. For others, it’s worth killing.

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town—and desperate for some kid-free conversation—she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others' marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

A taut, locked room mystery with an unforgettable cast of characters, One Little Secret promises to keep readers' eyes glued to the pages and debating the blinders that we all put on in the service of politeness.

I really liked this book! The story was original and it was filled with unlikeable people who I sure wouldn’t want to rent a vacation home with. The beginning sucked me right in! The victim getting drown in the water. I mean, what a way to jump-start a story. The story and writing was cleaver, if not a little over the top. But I didn’t mind that. I like a book I can get into and that keeps my interest all the way through. This is the second book I’ve read by Cate I like her style of writing. Everyone is not as they seem characters. Good suspense throughout and a twisty ending. 

If you are looking for a good mystery/suspense novel then I highly recommend this book. I read the kindle version and purchased the audible version of this book, so when I wouldn’t read I could listen to it being read. Good narrator and definitely one credit worthy. I highly recommend either version of book.
*A very special thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for the advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review*
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This was an exciting book and I read it quickly over two days. Told from multiple points of view, the three couples deal with everything from cheating to domestic violence. Throw in a murder and you have a great whodunit novel. It kept me guessing right up until the end. I did find it a bit confusing at the beginning to keep up with who was who for some reason? Overall really enjoyed this book!
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One Little Secret is a compelling story with promise. While the book wasn't terrible, I feel like so many of these books are trying to be the next Gone Girl.
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From my blog: Always With a Book:

I first discovered Cate Holahan when I read Lies She Told, which I absolutely loved. I knew after reading that book that I would be reading whatever else she read, so when I saw her new book available on Netgalley, I immediately requested it.

One Little Secret is a fun, locked room mystery that really keeps you engaged from start to finish. I loved how while this does start off a bit slow, it really picks up and becomes more and more intriguing as it moves on. As we get to know the couples and see how their stories intertwine and learn their secrets and lies, it becomes quite devious and downright delicious, and really kept me guessing right up to the very end. 

I like when I don't necessarily love all the characters and that is exactly what I found here in this book. There were some really awful characters here, but then there were some that you definitely find yourself rooting for. I like that kind of mix...it makes the book so much more enjoyable, in my opinion.

I liked how the story was structured - the back and forth between the days after the murder and the time leading up to it. This really kept the story moving and you guessing. I kept thinking I had it figured out, but let me tell you - I didn't even come close!

This is a fun beach read. It's a quick, easy read that provides great entertainment, with some serious Big Little Lies vibes going on. I definitely recommend adding this to your beach bag this summer!
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The book is a classic locked room murder mystery, which is a trope I personally like. I enjoyed seeing the mystery unfold and making up my own theories of who could have done it and why. In the beginning it was a bit hard to follow characters as there are quite many of them, but once I got the hang of it, I was absorbed into the story.
One thing I was not a huge fan of was the ending. It was unexpected but nothing mind-blowing and I was hoping for something else.
All in all, I think this book makes a great beach read or is perfect for summertime in general and I would especially recommend it for Big Little Lies fans for it has a similar vibe.
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Cate Holahan’s latest, One Little Secret, is definitely the kind of thriller you want to read at the beach… especially if that beach is at the end of Long Island. 

If Liane Moriarty and Agatha Christie had a book baby, One Little Secret would be the result. Holahan’s Hercule Poirot is Hamptons police detective Gabby Watkins, recently promoted and trying to prove herself while raising a teenage daughter in a biracial marriage to her high-school sweetheart. Smart, hard-working, devoted to her family and to justice, Gabby is a compelling protagonist, and I would have been happy had the book been written solely from her point-of-view.

The Liane Moriarty side of the book is the three couples who come to town to share a beach house. Neighbors, the six aren’t exactly friends; Susan put together the week-long vacation to try to make friends in her new community. A stay-at-home mom homeschooling a son with Autism Spectrum Disorder, she feels isolated and craves adult friendship. She wasn’t expecting to host a murder, but after a night where each couple tears each other apart, she and her husband Nadal find the body of Rachel--a lawyer whose husband Ben stays home with their kids--washed up on the beach.

Click on the link below to read the entire review
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One Little Secret is a twisty thriller about 3 different couples, who also happen to all be neighbors, that book a weekend getaway at the beach. When one of them turns up dead in the morning, you’ll find yourself reading on to find out who did it, as everyone seems to have some sort of motive.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Wow! What wild and crazy neighbors! This was a sit on the edge of your seat kind of book. From the very first moment you are trying to figure out everyone's angle and what they are really about. This book is fast paced and unforgettable. Cate Holahan shows you that when it comes to couples not all is as it seems. The lives of these complex characters whose crazy impulses seem to threaten the very lives they hold dear, but they still can't seem to control themselves. She weaves a tale of betrayal, lies, lust, and cheating which eventually leads to murder. Will the community of friends and families ever be the same?
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Summary from Goodreads:

"Everyone has a secret. For some, it's worth dying to protect. For others, it's worth killing.

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town - and desperate for some kid-free conversation - she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others' marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look."

My Thoughts:

One Little Secret was one of those suspenseful thrillers that just sucked me in and didn't let me go.  I went into this book after finishing two contemporary romances in a row so I was more than ready for a thriller to change things up.  I started this book and just let the author take me for a ride!  In this book there are three different couples who are all neighbors and have decided to rent a house on the beach together for vacation while their kids are away at camp.  The book flips between the present and the day before.  We get to see pieces of their lives, their relationships with their spouses, and here and there a secret or two was hinted at.  Let me tell you that I just ate this all up with a spoon!  I have been here lately for the domestic dramas with suspense mixed in!  I loved the fact that it felt like we were experiencing the investigation in real time thanks to the present day sections of the book but that we were also getting to see stuff from before too.  The book went back and forth between chapters but the author does it so seamlessly that it was just perfection.  What I liked best about this book though was that at some point in this book, I suspected every single one of the characters (besides the individual that was killed).  That's the mark of a good book in my opinion!  There were characters that I definitely didn't want it to be and ones where....well, we will say that just wasn't the case. None of these characters were likable all of the time but there were ones that I could at least relate to or found redeemable.  That's key in a book like this for me I have to say!  I know the trend lately is books featuring characters that you hate but that's just not really my type of thing.  I need a character I can root for usually for me to really enjoy the book!  I also have to say that I really loved Gabby (the detective)!  She was a character that I could get behind so I was rooting for her to figure out who the killer was.  

Overall, I just really enjoyed my time with this book.  This book had a Big Little Lies vibe to it with the three couples, the hidden secrets, and the interactions between them all as a group.  I think if you liked that book then you will probably enjoy this one as well.  I'm super excited to read more by this author and am glad that she has other books for me to look forward to.  She kept me guessing throughout this book which is always a good thing.  I don't want to say much more than that as I think this is a book to just experience or go into without knowing too much about it.  I can easily recommend this one to fans of thrillers, mysteries, and suspense.  This would be the perfect book to get lost in on the beach during these hot summer days or even while you beat the heat in the air conditioning.  Highly recommended!

Bottom Line:  A suspenseful read that kept me guessing the entire time!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and Meryl Moss Media.  Honest Thoughts are my own.
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Here are some fragmentary reactions to One Little Secret by Cate Holohan:

•	There was unrelenting suspense, enough to carry the reader through a somewhat muddled storyline. One big contributor to the muddling was the jumble of the parents' and children’s names among six neighboring couples. I seldom have trouble keeping track of characters, but in this case I repeatedly muttered, “Susan is married to – that’s right, Nadal. And Jenny is with Louis, the doctor. That leaves Rachel with Ben.”
•	There were a lot of first world problems, predictable in a story about prosperous people on an exclusive dream vacation. But these six were almost stereotypes of self-absorbed, wealthy folks. No one expressed any concern beyond what happened inside their well-groomed heads or what affected their status.
•	There was only one sympathetic character -- the local detective, who was indeed sympathetic, but not fully realized. I needed a bit more fleshing out to understand her actions.
•	Back to my opening. The suspense was skillful, and the alternating time lines were done well. Dialogue seemed natural. This great beach reading (in both senses – the setting is the Hamptons, with direct access to a private beach.) It did keep me reading, despite my picky reactions.

Thanks to NetGalley for an advance readers copy.
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Susan was looking for some couples time with her husband and 2 Neighbor couples. It was supposed to be a way to let loose and enjoy themselves while their kids were away at camp, but sometimes the best intentions can yield the worst outcomes. When large amounts of liquor are involved, inhibitions are thrown to the wind and bad things tend to happen. After a night of drinking, one of the women is found dead on the beach where they are staying. Now everyone is a suspect and the couples are trying to find out who it is among them. 
Gabby is the detective on the case and she is battling her own demons. Will she be able to find the one whose secrets were worth killing for and stop them before someone else is murdered?
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