Cover Image: The Secret

The Secret

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Member Reviews

The plot centers around two teenage girls and their parents/carers.  I liked the skillfully woven intricacy of how all their lives intertwined, secrets unfolding and nothing is what it seems.  Compassionately written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
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Hollie and Niamh Buckley tell each other everything, one day Niamh learns a secret from Hollie and swears to keep quiet about it. But when Hollie is found dead everyone is a suspect in the village of Abingworth. 
Elise Buckley who works in an airline as one of the cabin crew has her own secret to hide – she also has a husband who has always have extra marital affairs – it’s also very well known to almost everyone in the village. 
The cops have to find out what happened to Hollie and why was she killed – was it the secret which killed her?

Thanks to Netgalley & Avon Books UK  for the ARC!
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Thank you to net galley and the publishers for an advance copy..
A very readable and enjoyable book.
The story follows the investigation into the murder of a young girl in a small English village. The village is populated by seemingly wealthy families but as the story unfolds the secrets of the villagers are slowly exposed.
It is told from the first-person point of view of several of the main characters changing chapter by chapter. but this does not affect the speed at which the plot unfolds. There are some disturbing subjects covered in the story including marital abuse, internet pornography, and the trafficking of minors for sexual purposes which give a sad view of the society in which we live.
I did not catch on to the secret of the title until it was revealed at the end.
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Hollie's secret was so devastating that someone killed her.  DS Jo May finds she has a tough road ahead to discover not only the secret but also the villain in this story of a village and a family where not everything is as it seem.  Niamh, Hollie's best friend and confident, and her mother Elise both tell their versions as does Jo.  Things spool out slowly and while you like me, might spot some of the issues, there are good twists that surprised me.  The short chapters will keep you turning the pages (so easy to read just one more) as will the plot.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  A very good read- perfect for travel (real or armchair!)
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A great psychological thriller. 
This book kept me reading in to the night.
Elise is cabin crew and married to the local GP living in a large house her life on the surface is perfect, but is it?
 Elise and her husband Andrew have a daughter Niamh who is best friends with Hollie , Hollie is found dead was it an accident or murder?
This story has plenty of twists and turns which kept my attention throughout ,showing a web of lies and deceit which can be found in a picturesque village , scratch the surface and it’s surprising what you might find.
An easy , enjoyable read .
Highly recommended!
Thanks to NetGalley and Avon Book UK.
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What secrets does the village of Abingworth hold? In this story we meet Niamh, a 14 year old girl who’s best friend Holly has been keeping secrets and has now disappeared. Elise, Niamh’s mum, who is keeping secrets of her own and then Jo, the detective sent to find missing Holly. Told from all 3 prospectives we learn a little about what led to Holly becoming more and more secretive before she finally disappeared. We learn more about Elise and her family and the progress Jo and her team are making in their search.
The plot line touches on several trigger points so be prepared for a child porn ring, abusive and coercive relationships, death of a child and suicide. All of which are briefly touched on but done so in a sensitive manner.
I was initially drawn into this and suspected everyone, however at times I felt it was a little slow and dragged. 
I had the audiobook and the Ebook and found that having the audiobook helped to discern the difference between the characters as they were read by different narrators and did feel that if I had read alone they might have blurred together as when I did read chapters they were very ‘samey’
Thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read this title
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Rating:  1.8/5

The early sections of "The Secret" are reasonably engaging and had me looking forward to how it would develop.  Sadly, it wasn't long before the early promise faded and the content became decidedly mediocre.

Although it isn't clear from the accompanying blurb, the key themes of the novel relate to coercive control and abusive relationships, backed up by a sub-plot concerning child pornography.  These are important and hard-hitting topics with plenty of potential for heart-wrenching feelings to be evoked.  Unfortunately, it is handled in such a clumsy, stilted and wooden fashion that its impact is lost.

The narrative is told from three perspectives:  Niamh, a teenage girl whose best friend, Hollie, has disappeared; Elise, Niamh's mother; and Jo, the Detective Sergeant investigating Hollie's disappearance.  Multiple points of view can be an effective literary mechanic when it is executed well, but it does depend on each protagonist being given a clear, distinct voice that is appropriate and credible.  I never truly felt that the author achieved that in this case.  Perhaps it wasn't helped that the first person narrative was used for each of the three, but there was rarely any clearly discernible change in tone, so it was a bit samey and simply sounded like the author providing the narrative rather than three believable, albeit fictional, creations.

The pace of the story didn't really work for me either.  Following the initial scene setting I was expecting things to move up a gear, but there were too many chapters that contributed too little to the process of moving the story on.  I was hoping and expecting to sense the atmosphere and tension building, but instead the narrative was quite monotone and flat.  This certainly wasn't helped by some unnecessary repetition, unconvincing dialogue and simplistic two-dimensional characterisation.  The pace does pick up from around the 60% mark, but the plot twists that help to drive the momentum are hard to swallow. The ideas behind the twists were quite appealing, but the execution was a bit shoddy and relied on developments that were too convenient or too contrived.

Some promising moments, but overall, not one of the better novels I have read this year.

As ever, I would still like to convey my thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for supplying an ARC in return for an honest review. It is a pity I was not in a position to pass more favourable comment on this occasion.
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“One of those villages where everyone has a secret.”

That perfectly describes Abingworth and its residents. Elise Buckley is navigating her troubled marriage to Adam while trying to present a perfect façade to the village. Adam is far from the genial physician he appears to be. Her daughter Niamh has kept her best friend Hollie’s secrets from both her parents. And Abingwoth itself is the subject of a covert police investigation. All of this bubbles to the surface when Niamh’s best friend Hollie is murdered. Is her death linked to the ongoing police investigation? Or could it be something darker?

Told in the voices of Elise, Niamh and investigator Jo, The Secret is a twisty thriller, full of surprises. Serious themes are addressed: murder, suicide, abuse and child pornography. The characters are well drawn although all are not likable. The setting of a small, secluded village adds to the feeling of isolation adds to the hopelessness felt by Elise and Niamh. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Avon Books UK and Debbie Howells for this ARC.
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**Listened to the audio book, and read along with the electronic copy too**

This book was certainly page-turning. I found myself engrossed in the plot from the very beginning, it didn't take long to feel immersed.
Howells writing was incredibly visual, and while reading/listening I felt like I could see the story being played out in front of my eyes, it was really easy to visualise it all. It made me think it would make an excellent TV series.
There were a lot of characters in this book, and usually it is something that I struggle with. However, the characters were all so very different and the narrator portrayed all of the characters so well that I didn't feel lost or overwhelmed at any point.

There was times when the pacing slowed down a bit, and I was just waiting for the next 'bombshell' to take place. However, for the most part it was pretty full on the entire way through.

I thought the audiobook narrator was brilliant, and was great at portraying all of the different characters.

Overall this was a great thriller, and I enjoyed it. It is not a book that will stay with me, but I did enjoy the reading/listening experience.
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This was such a great read, I loved it. It was so twisty and full of red herrings all the way through with creepy undertones. I was completely engrossed in this book. I kept guessing who did what and halfway through the book no-one was innocent but, I wasn’t prepared for the twist at the end!!!! This was such a great book. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Avon for the advance copy of The Secret by Debbie Howells. 
When 16 year Hollie disappears from the small village where she lives with her father and stepmother it sets in motion a terrible train of events that shatter Elise and her daughter Niamh’s lives. A fabulous book about bullying and the control the bullies can have over you.
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Talk about a tense and suspenseful story!  Seamlessly told from three perspectives, it is absolutely riddled with secrets and deception.  I so badly wanted to reach the ending yet dreaded being finished this tongue-gnawing book.  The writing is impeccable, clever and gripping.  Much of the time I felt I was there, in the thick of things, feeling a range of emotions.  Surprise twists kept coming and the ending left me breathless, the perfect close to a brilliant plot.  

Abingworth is a small village whose residents pretend not to know goings on but secretly do.  Neighbours do not exactly look out for each other and no one knows what really goes on behind closed doors.  Or do they? Flight attendant Elise lives with her controlling and abusive husband, Andrew, the local GP and their teen daughter, Niamh.  Hollie and Niamh have a unique, almost perilous friendship.  When Hollie is discovered dead, the village produces more questions than answers, making detective Jo's task challenging.  Not only that but a child porn case rears its ugly head.  There are more than enough stories to provide fodder for gossip...and for readers to mull over.  That ending, though!  

Thriller and suspense readers, add this to your priority list.  It is well worth your time.  Be aware that domestic abuse may be a trigger.

My sincere thank you to Avon Books UK and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this fabulously suspenseful book!
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Abingworth is idyllic.  One of those postcard pretty villages, where the houses are beautiful, the residents affluent, and the families perfect. Of course, like all villages, there are secrets and lies, but this one has a deeply dark and very unpleasant issue at its core.

Elise and Andrew Buckley, along with their daughter, Niamh, are one of those ideal families.  They live in a big, beautiful house, Niamh goes to the local private school for privileged children, Elise works as cabin crew though there is no need for her to work at all, and Andrew is the local GP, loved and revered by all his patients and the local community.  In all, the perfect family.  Or are they?  What deep, dark secrets do they have?  As the story evolves, we get to see how disfunctional this family unit is, and what terrible lives they lead.

Beyond the storyline, this book raises some hard issues, no spoilers, but we never know what goes on behind close doors.

This was a good read, some scenes shocking but well written.

Thank you NetGalley.
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This book covers some difficult subjects- abuse, pornography -  but in a sensitive way. There are so many twists making it a gripping read and one that I will recommend .
Thank you to Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review an ARC
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Trigger warnings: Death of a child/parent 

What a book! Debbie can take all my coins because what a wow! The book centers around Hollie and the ripple effects her death causes on those left behind. Hollie and Niamh are close friends even though they are of different ages and one day Hollie tells a secret to Niamh but what happens to a secret when one person dies? 

How far will one person go to protect a secret. Among the suspects are almost perfect Dr. Andrew Buckley and Elise who are Niamh's parents. The seemingly good doctor and flight attendant also have their own secrets and Hollie's death also cracks open the Pandora box. Among the other suspects are Hollie's parents, the neighborhood man in the suit and pretty much the whole town. 

If you are looking for  a thriller you can read all day without taking a break this is it. The book captures and  won't let you go till you are done. A huge thanks to Avon Books for my complimentary copy . All opinions expressed are my own.
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This was a pleasant enough thriller to pass a few hours with. The baddie was really really bad with no depth to his character, but perhaps that is what psychopaths are like. The writing and plot structure were competent enough, but I did guess the big secret. The final twist was a surprise however. The detective Jo was also in The Vow and I liked her background story. I expect she will turn up in future books, but I would not read another one.
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What an ending.... this was such a great book. 
So much going on and not sure who to blame.
Well worth the read. 

Thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for an early release of this book.
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My thanks to NetGalley and publisher Avon Books UK for the ARC.

Wow! just how many twists can one story hold!  I was absolutely glued to the pages from start to finish.  This is well-written and so intriguing as to how a myriad of secrets are revealed, and the ending - well, I never expected that!  Really good characters and believable dialogue.

There are just two teenagers in the wealthy village of Abingworth near Chichester - Hollie who is 16 and Niamh who is 14.  Hollie had a boyfriend Dylan and all the villagers knew they were in love, but then they split up and Hollie becomes somewhat unstable and makes Niamh her best friend.  Niamh knows Hollie is worried about something and eventually Hollie confides her secrets.  But Niamh has to promise she won't tell.

Niamh's parents are Elisa, cabin crew on short-haul flights, and Andrew who is the local GP.  Andrew is a serial adulterer and Elisa suffers his controlling and abusive behaviour only for the sake of her daughter.

Hollie goes missing for two days and is discovered in a frozen pool in the grounds of an empty house.  A murder enquiry is launched, led by DS Jo May who herself has recently come out of an abusive marriage.  The police see this enquiry as a way to dig further into the lives of the residents because they believe a child pornography ring is operating in the area - codenamed Operation Raiinbow.

As the investigation continues, Niamh, being Hollie's best friend, is frequently questioned, and gradually drip-feeds pertinent bits of information.  However, Jo and her team feel that the residents aren't being as forthcoming as they might - they all seem to be hiding secrets.

And indeed they are!  

Can Elisa and Niamh escape their living nightmare?  Who would want to kill Hollie?
Will Andrew be exposed for the psychopath he really is?

Lots of twists here.  Couldn't put it down.

Really good.
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Hollie and Naimh are best friends. They tell each other everything. One day Hollie confides something to Naimh, making her swear she will never tell a soul. Then Hollie disappears.
Detective Joanna May leads the search for Hollie. She is currently working on Operation Rainbow,  an investigation into a suspected porn ring. Is it possible this is somehow connected with Hollie’s disappearance?  That beneath the respectable veneer of residents in the quiet village of Abingworth someone is hiding secrets?
This is a page turning read which tackles some unpleasant themes. Abuse and child pornography being two of them. Naimh’s father Dr Andrew Buckley is a total monster. Controlling, physically and mentally abusive and serially unfaithful, he hides his character behind the respectability of his role as the local GP.  He’s probably one of the worst characters I have read in any book. His wife Elise suffers in silence, aware he currently has the upper hand, but all the while planning escape with Naimh.  As Jo May’s investigation proceeds she begins to uncover some surprising things.
This is a dark psychological thriller with multiple twists and turns. Well written, I found it difficult to put down.  Worthy of every one of the five stars I have given it.

I would like to thank Debbie Howells, Bookouture and Netgally for an ARC of The Secret in exchange for an honest review.
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A the only two teenagers in a small village, Hollie and Niamh tell each other everything. Behind Abingworth's closed doors, every family has it's secrets - and theirs might hide the worst ones of all. One day Hollie tells Niamh about a devastating discovery, swears her to secrecy....  then vanishes. All the villagers claim to know nothing. Until Hollie's body is found, and the police know that one of their number isn't just a liar, but a killer. 

Elsie and Andrew are not happy, neither is their daughter Niamh. Niamh's best friend Hollie had told her a secret before she disappeared. Was it the secret that that Hollie knew the reason she disappeared? All the villagers claim they don't know anything about Hollie's disappearance, but someone must know something.

This is a steady paced,  thrilling, twist filled and easy to read. The characters are well developed and believable. Filled with secrets, lies, and an ending I wasn't expecting. The plotline covers some pretty brutal secrets.

I would like to thank #NetGalley #AvonBooksUK and the author #DebbieHowells for my ARC of #TheSecret in exchange doe an honest review.
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