Cover Image: The Secret

The Secret

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This book was a fast paced psychological thriller that grabbed your attention right from the start. The characters in this book all seemed to have a dark aura around them and the book was written with multiple points of view which made the flow easy to follow.

The story revolved around a small village in the UK  with an ongoing investigation into a child pornography ring. Add to this the dark secrets of the Buckley family, the disappearance of a local girl and sometimes unreliable characters, this book kept me guessing right to the end.  The Buckley family included Elise, (mother/wife/airline flight attendant), Niamh (teen daughter/student/friend) and Andrew (father/husband/local Doctor).  The secrets of this family and the small community in which they lived intertwined and provided the backdrop for this quick moving storyline.  

I enjoyed reading this eARC and would like to thank the publisher for the opportunity to review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley and Avon Books, this book is terrifyingly a compelling page turner, I anxiously enjoyed this story and whilst reading it “it felt like watching a movie peeking through my fingers that were covering my eyes” and yet I could not put it down. Midway through, there were parts that made me feel squeamish and quite uncomfortable and I feel it’s worth mentioning there are particular triggers throughout the story regarding child exploitation and domestic violence and yet I was so engrossed in the unfolding story I was compelled to keep on reading.

The idyllic village of Abingworth, where everybody knows everybody, it really does go to show, non-one ever really knows what goes on behind closed doors, over the neighbouring fence, down the end of that leafy secluded drive-way. How well do loving parents know what their adored children get up to, who they mix with, or the secrets they are hiding from their parents.

I couldn’t help repeating to myself throughout the story a headline ‘Only 10% of people are good’ that Elise a flight attendant, Niamhs mother, had noticed on a passenger’s magazine, and I felt as the story evolved there was never a truer word spoken. To me it felt it was ringing true of a lot of Abingworth villagers. It began to feel like I could count out on my fingers who that 10% of people were and it began to look a lot like only 10% of the people weren’t deceitful, cheating, or lying.

This is a really good read, plenty of plot twists with an ending I did not see coming, I do recommend you read this book, and other books by Debbie Howells you will not be disappointed.
Was this review helpful?
This book simply has to be one of the best books I have read in 2021!

I have not read Debbie Howells before, but after reading this one, I´m certainly going to add her to my list of outstanding authors.  

The storying line is utterly compelling, two friends, Hollie and Niamh, one telling the other her secret, and what a secret!  This book has everything, intrigue, murder, domestic abuse, blackmail, all brilliantly drawn together by the author. And as for the ending, never saw that coming!!

Sensational book!

My thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced copy in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This was a great book. The chapters were fairly short and told from different POV’s.

There were lots of characters some I really disliked. Lots going on too, and this will keep you guessing until the very end.

It was interesting reading from Detective May’s perspective and seeing things from their side.

This was my first book by this author and I will definitely be reading more.

Thanks to Avon books Uk and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
A fast-paced, gripping psychological thriller that won't let you think about anything else until you reach the end. I devoured this book in just two sittings. 

The story is told from the POV of Elise (mother), Niamh (daughter), and Jo (detective), who try to come to terms and solve the mystery of the death of Hollie, a teenager found dead in the village where they live. The main story soon develops including a ring dealing with child pornography, a violent husband, and a village whose inhabitants all seem to be hiding something. I loved to see all the threads coming together and the ending was very satisfying. 

This was my first book by Debbie Howells and definitely won't be my last.

Thank you so much NetGallery and Avon Books for the opportunity to read the advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
In my opinion this is a brilliant psychological thriller which had me gripped and read within 24 hours.
I would point out that this book may not be for everyone as there are a few triggers involved- mental health, domestic abuse and others which I won't mention to avoid giving any spoilers. However, these issues are dealt with sensitivity by the author.
Thanks to netgalley and Avon books for this recommended read.
Was this review helpful?
This is a book that will keep you guessing. You know from the beginning that the father, Andrew, is not a nice person. He’s cruel, unfaithful, and generally a bad person. What you don’t know is how is he, or is he is, part of deaths in the book. 

The story has several narrators and I love this type of story. You get to see from different perspectives. I really enjoyed this book, especially the characters as they develop throughout the story. I would recommend this book to someone looking for a complex thriller with a lot of mysteries to solve.
Was this review helpful?
I was a bit unsure about this kind of throughout the book to be honest. In places it was really good, especially the ending which was a great little twist to end on. I did find that some of the things I managed to guess which took away from the story. I just wasn’t as gripped the whole way through as I was hoping to be. Which doesn’t mean there weren’t good points - sensitive topics were covered well and as mentioned the ending was unexpected but in a good way. 

Thank you NetGalley and to the publishers for my copy of this book in return for a review
Was this review helpful?
What a book! I had no clue what any of the twists would be, the plot is very well thought out. I enjoyed the writing style, it really brought the characters to life and made me so invested in Hollie and Niamh's lives. The setting of a small village works so well as it made the whole story feel isolated and closed in. I will definitely be reading more of Debbie Howells' books in the future!
Was this review helpful?
2.5 ⭐

With the central topics such as a murder of a teenager, domestic abuse and child porn, this book will hardly ever end up on anyone's list of pleasant reads. But it was an ok thriller/mystery that I’d probably liked more if I haven't encountered similar plot twist in a couple of other recent reads.

The good news is that the book was able to suck me in. Not for a second did I think about DNF-ing it - I had to know what's going to happen. However, once I got to the end, I’m not sure it was worth it.

Plus, I had two huge problems with the narration. 

First - it was really repetitive. So many times there would be a scene, then someone would be repeating it word for word to someone else.

And second - the way they've been acquiring evidence was a bit off. Basically, lots of people knew more that they were saying, and they were pretty much adding a bit more every next time they were questioned. It killed all the excitement after a while.

On the positive note, the character work was done really well. Most characters were nicely fleshed out and I could almost imagine getting to know them as if they were real people.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of The Secret by Debbie Howells in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a real behind closed doors type of thriller and set in a small village to boot!

Elise is a flight attendant whilst her husband, Andrew is the local doctor. They live in a beautiful house with their teenage daughter Niamh. Although Niamh doesn't go to the local school her closest friend is Hollie who lives in the village and it soon becomes apparent that the two girls are sharing a secret. What it is will have serious consequences for many.

This is a tense thriller which stays the right side of believable that allowed me to be swept under by the swirling darkness of what truths the story shone a light on.

A great story to look out for in 2022.
Was this review helpful?
If you are looking for a gripping page turner, they don’t get much better than this! 
A great story which moves at a cracking pace. I raced through this book constantly trying to guess who was responsible for what and failing miserably. It is expertly written with so many twists and turns, with many different characters each having their own motives and actions questioned throughout. 
I would certainly recommend this as a great psychological thriller to add to you wish list and rated it 5 stars. ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Was this review helpful?
This is a brilliant psychological thriller. 
The title of the book suggests one secret but most people in this village are hiding something from others. 
Hollie and Niamh are best friends but when Hollie is found dead, the Police start to look into the lives of the people in the village. 
Niamh’s Dad, Andrew, is a nasty piece of work and has made her Mum’s life a misery for many years. Elise has had enough and starts to build the courage to leave him, but he then beats her so badly, she ends up in hospital. 
The Police are supportive of Elise and persuade her to get away from Andrew just as evidence is found of his link to other crimes. 
There’s lots going on in this book and it will definitely keep you guessing who killed Hollie. 
A brilliant book that I’d highly recommend. 
Thanks to Avon Books UK and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
Was this review helpful?
The Secret is a tense psychological thriller told from several interesting POVs and consists of an intricate plot with delicately woven threads. The pace is more on the slow side but that worked really well here and I found myself intrigued from start to end. 

This book highlights a range of difficult and sensitive topics including domestic violence and specifically marital coercive control, issues which the author confronted realistically and sensitively. The small town feel in this novel was poignant and proved how tight-knit communities can be equally helpful when it comes to having eyes on fellow neighbours and uncovering secrets but also have their downfalls with villagers closing ranks when feeling threatened. 

I really enjoyed this book, the gripping way in which it is written and the revelations and twists that are revealed throughout.

Thanks to Netgalley and Avon Books UK for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Advance Copy from Netgalley

TW: This book deals with domestic violence and child pornography

I really enjoyed this multiple narrative fast paced thriller. Short pacey chapters told from different narratives creating suspense found I was constantly changing my views wondering 'who to trust'.

I kept turning pages wanting to know more as just as I thought I had things sussed another curve ball would be thrown keeping me engaged to the last page - even that threw a final 'oh' moment.

The book starts and you think it's a typical whodunnit and then it changes and becomes so much more of a tangled web.

Well worth a read and I'll be seeking more from Debbie Howells in the future.
Was this review helpful?
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was a slow start and took until half way through before I got into it. Then it kept me gripped and I raced ahead. It wasn't very believable in the way the police conducted their interviews. There weren't any characters I warmed to either. The ending was a good twist, as I was a bit worried it would end on a cliffhanger.
Was this review helpful?
Hidden deep within the small village of Abingworth, each of its residents has something to hide. When a local teenage girl uncovers the truth of one, someone decides that taking her life is the only way to protect it. A slow burning psychological suspense, never was the phrase of “two can keep a secret – if one of them is dead” more relevant than in this book.

The Secret is an intriguing tale with its complex relationships, that are wrapped up in secrets and lies and covers themes of coercive control, mental abuse and domestic violence, which Howells deals with sensitively. It kept my interest throughout, its characters strong and its short chapters made for a quick read in the lead up to its thrilling finale that took me completely by surprise! A dark and sinister read, I throughly enjoyed this book.

Thank you to Debbie Howells, Avon Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of The Secret, which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.
Was this review helpful?
I love! this book. It's my first time reading a book by Debbie and tbh I was flabbergasted.



It tells the story of Hollie and Niamh, two best friends living in a village. They're actually the only teens there so they pretty much go everywhere together. One day, Hollie confides in her friend and tells her an awful secret. One that Niamh promises to keep. Soon, Hollie goes missing and the whole village is in uproar as investigations begin.



The story is told in both Niamh and her mother, Elise's perspective. There are a lot of trigger warnings here. Mental health is at the core of the themes as Niamh looks on at how her mother diminishes day by day, subject to her father's abuse on both of them. Elise becoming a shadow of herself, as her husband continues to reign his dominance on her and her daughter is heart-wrenching. Being a victim of abuse myself, I couldn't hold back my tears. Niamh knows a lot more than everyone thinks she does. She has learnt to keep quiet and watch. The repercussion of which is deadly.

I love how Detective Jo comes on the scene. Being a victim of an abusive husband, she knows all too well the signs when she see one. Hence, her trying to persuade Elise to take matters into her hands before it's too late. But nothing is easy. Especially in situations like this, in which the victims have been manipulated psychologically. They feel fear and they can't leave.

I absolutely love the way the facts played out. Getting to discover the secret that the town was holding was absolutely shocking. I couldn't believe it! It was so sad that poor Hollie ended up the way she did.

This is one of my best reads this year. Totally adore it. Thank you very much to Netgalley, the Publisher and Debbie Howells for the arc copy of the book.
Was this review helpful?
Best friends Hollie and Niamh tell each other everything. One day Hollie tells Niamh about a devastating discovery, swears her to secrecy, then vanishes.  When Hollie's body is found and it looks like it was not an accident, and then secrets start to come out.....
This author's books are either a hit or a miss for me, and I think this one is more of a miss.  It wasn't terrble...don't get me wrong.  It just wasn't great.  I just didn't feel that any of the characters were especally likeable or someone I really wanted to root for.  There were a lot of characters that I didn't like however.  I never felt really invested in the story either.   The best part about it was the last page of the book where the big reveal was.  That is the part I do love about her books.  She always has a shock-factor at the very end of the book.
Was this review helpful?
A Sussex village, a teenage love affair, a fast friendship between  16 and 14 year old girls. A death, a porn ring....a poisonous marriage. The narrative switches between 14 year old Naimh, her mother Elise and detective Sergeant Jo. The writing is assured, secrets unravel, the mystery twists and turns. It's just gone 1:30am and I've stayed up to finish this engaging story.
Was this review helpful?