Cover Image: The Secret

The Secret

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Great plot to get yourself lost in. This book has everything. A real fast paced thriller. Will get your heart racing on more than one occasion. Very well written. Highly recommend this book
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This was a gripping read and I liked how it was written in multiple POV.
Niamh and Hollie are best friends.  One day Hollie tells Niamh a devastating secret and the next day she disappears.   Shortly after she is found murdered. It seems everyone has secrets.
I liked how the story unfolded and all the wrong turns the author takes you down.
Thanks to Avon Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
#TheSecret #NetGalley
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This one was a lovely read. I really enjoyed reading this one. I just love this kind of books.
4 stars read for me
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A dark sinister read!
It's a compelling read but not an easy one. 
Nor should it be with the topics explored but do check trigger warnings if you need to.
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𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙨𝙚𝙘𝙧𝙚𝙩 𝙗𝙮 𝘿𝙚𝙗𝙗𝙞𝙚 𝙃𝙤𝙬𝙚𝙡𝙡𝙨

I haven’t read anything by this author before but the striking cover drew me in and I really enjoyed this. Told through multiple engaging perspectives, this is a story of family, mystery, suspense, secrets and lies, and sensitively covers some difficult topics.

I loved the small town community vibes, having grown up in a tiny remote village in Sussex for the first twenty two years of my life, and always find a book setting even more enjoyable when I can relate to it. The characters were well-written and all played such a big part in the revealing of the twists.. and speaking of twists, what a shocking and totally unexpected ending. In the best way possible! 

I thought this was a raw and sadly truthful look at how relationships and marriages can look flawless from the outside, but you never know what’s happening behind closed doors. You won’t want to put this book down once you get started - a properly gripping, easy to read thriller. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more of Howell’s work in future!

𝗥𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗴: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ (4/5) 

𝐓𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐤 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐮𝐛𝐥𝐢𝐬𝐡𝐞𝐫 + 𝐚𝐮𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐲 𝐞𝐀𝐑𝐂!
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Hollie and Niamh are the only two teenagers in the village and they tell each other everything. Hollie has a secret, a big one. And Niamh promised she would keep it. But when Hollie goes missing and ends up dead, it becomes clear the two teenagers aren't the only ones in the village hiding things. Suddenly, neighbours become suspects and secrets come to light. What secret could be so bad that it meant the death of Hollie? And who killed her?

"Only ten percent of people are good."

This was a great psychological thriller, but it does contain a lot of heavy themes and even though the author handles them very well (in my opinion), it will probably still be a bit of a tough read for some people. (TW: physical and emotional abuse, manipulation, violence, toxic home environment, toxic relationships, betrayal, child exploitation). The story is told from multiple POVs, which are all strong female characters (definitely a bonus, if you ask me!). The short chapters and multiple POVs make it a quick and easy read. There were a lot of plot twists (which I thought was a good thing) and the author definitely kept me guessing right up until the end. 

"I used to believe that even the worst behaviour could be explained by abusive childhoods or desperation. But that was before I realised people have choices; make decisions. Before I realised that brutality can be intentional."

Reading this does make a person wonder: how well do we know our neighbours? After all, who can ever really be sure of what goes on behind closed doors? 

Thank you to Netgalley and Avon Books UK for my e-ARC.

Overall rating: ★★★★
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Talk about edge of your seat, page turner. Wow!! It’s 7am and I’ve been up all night reading this.

Loved it. So many different outcomes I weren’t expecting.

I need to read more of Debbie Howells books.
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This was a gripping thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat. With twists and turns galore this book had me hooked and hanging on to every page. Whilst this book covered some difficult themes and has multiple trigger warnings, it was very well written. 

A huge thank you to NetGalley and publishers for an early eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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The first book I’ve read by this author and what a rollercoaster of a read ! There were so many twists and turns which kept you guessing with a great twist at the end .
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Hollie revealed one of her secrets to Niamh and vanished. Later, all that remained of her was her body. And a whodunit emerged from the prose with the villagers becoming the prime suspects. This was a good murder mystery with a dark underbelly. A little slow-paced than my expectations. The ending was good. An enjoyable read.
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OMG  . This book was so good and full of suspense that I couldnt put it down. The characters were easy to connect to and the ending took me by great suprise. Loved this book.
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⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 -- A cracking good read!

First, I am just going to say, Netflix needs to make this book into a series ASAP! In fact, does anyone know who I email to get this done??  👀 This was just a thoroughly entertaining read. Well written. Fast-paced. A plot full of secrets, lies, twists and turns. Characters you will love and loathe. All wrapped up in an ending that will shock you. So why not 5 stars? I was anticipating a twist that, alas, didn't happen. 🤷🏻‍♀️ That said, this was still a huge two thumbs up read! 

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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Loved this book 
Had me hooked from the first page
Plenty of twists and turns
Can’t wait for Debbie’s next book
Thanks NetGalley
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Twists and turns galore in this book, I was engaged with this book and was hanging on a thread for the next chapter. Well written book and can’t wait to read the authors next book!
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You always tell a secret with the hope of it not getting out, but that can be hard when one of the parties ends up dead.  A great thriller told from multiple POVs that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
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★★★★★ 4.5 stars (rounded up)

Two can keep a secret – if one of them is dead...

Wow! A multi-faceted thriller that begins as a slow burn with a strong focus on coercive control, amidst other evil secrets, THE SECRET does require a trigger warning for its abuse scenes of domestic violence, suicide and child pornography, which may be uncomfortable for some. The complexities buried deep beneath layers of congeniality and community make for a chilling and somewhat disturbing read. And despite its slow start, I was soon immersed within the secrets that were bubbling just below the surface.

Set in a quaint but affluent English village in Sussex, Abingworth appears to chocolate box and sleepy...but beneath the layers something far more sinister is at play. Elise Buckley is a flight attendant often away for short hauls and is on a return flight when we first meet her. She appears aloof and distant at first but this is just a mask to hide the dismal reality of her life in which she finds herself trapped. Her husband Andrew is a local GP in nearby Chichester who, for all intents and purposes, likes to keep the facade of a perfect image he portrays to all around him. But Andrew is a bully and a serial adulterer, using emotional and psychological abuse to keep his wife exactly where he wants her. He knows she'll never leave him and proudly states that fact whenever she's brave enough to confront him...because Andrew has a hold over her. But is it worth it in the end?

Elise remains in her loveless and abusive marriage for one reason and one reason only - her fourteen year old daughter Niamh. The eyes and ears who remains seemingly unseen holds many a secret of what occurs behind the closed doors of their perfect house. But at her age, Niamh sees and hears far too much...and it is a burden she shouldn't have to bear. Her one consolation and escape from her house of horrors is her friendship with sixteen year old Hollie. But free-spirited Hollie has her own issues some of which she shares with Niamh.

One day Hollie shares a dark secret she has uncovered with Niamh and suddenly the two young girls are having to deal with some very adult things on their own. And then soon after Hollie discloses her secret, she goes missing leaving her father and stepmother frantic with worry.

DS Joanna May is called in by her boss DI Saunders when Hollie is reported missing. Having just returned from extended leave due to the downfall of her own abusive marriage, Jo is at first reluctant before being reminded of the close proximity the village is to another case she had been working on. Operation Rainbow. At once, Jo knows she is best placed within the village on this investigation whilst working parallel on the other more covert operation which is about to be blown wide open with the police presence in the once sleepy village of Abingworth.

When Hollie's body is soon discovered in the grounds of a neighbouring property, the community closes ranks and suddenly no one is giving up anything...leading the police to believe there is something bigger at play. Meanwhile, Hollie's father and stepmother are over-wrought with grief and yet reveal nothing. And then there is the dark secret that Hollie shared with Niamh shortly before her disappearance and subsequent death. What bearing does it have on what happened to her? But as the layers of secrets in this once sleepy village gradually unfold, suddenly there becomes a new and disturbing aspect that sheds a whole different light on Hollie's death. Just exactly what had the young girl stumbled onto?

As the investigation continues, Jo comes up against a wall of secrets she has trouble breaking down...but having come from an abusive marriage herself she believes Elise is scared about the fallout that will surely come should she reveal what she knows. But is that all Elise is hiding? Is it fear or is it something far more calculating?

As Niamh watches in silence, she knows she can never reveal the secret Hollie shared with her. A promise is a promise...even in death.

Layered with plenty of suspense and sinister secrets, THE SECRET is told from the viewpoints of Niamh, Elise and Jo in which we are drip-fed enough information that sheds just enough light on the story as it gradually unfolds. Each of the characters are well-developed as their developing narratives add to the thrill and building suspense of the story. The plot is cleverly crafted and expertly told with the triggering issues within handled sensitively.

Despite the initial focus on Elise and her loveless marriage in the beginning, THE SECRET is an intriguing and addictive read once the pace gets going. All throughout the reader is tantalised as to what this deep dark secret could possibly be, as many possibilities go through our minds. Howells drip-feeds us many as we ponder "is this it? Or is it something else?" Because in all honesty, there are loads of secrets we are left to unravel...but can we unravel the biggest of them all? What was it Hollie told Niamh?

A crime story as well as a domestic thriller, THE SECRET is riddled with so many secrets that are hidden beneath the facade of respectability. There is also a sadness in the tale behind the story which leaves you pondering about the goodness of mankind, or lack thereof. It is, however, an engrossing domestic thriller with several twists throughout and while I did work out the biggest one, I didn't see the ending coming. But it was most certainly the coup de grâce with a sad but fitting end.

I love the short snappy chapters as well as the alternating narratives which keep the pace moving through this easy read that is just bursting with secrets. As my first read by this author, I was pretty impressed with the tangled web Howells wove for us and I look forward to reading more from her.

A disturbing domestic thriller, THE SECRET is perfect for those who enjoy darker and sinister reads.

I would like to thank #DebbieHowells, #Netgalley, #AvonBooksUK for an ARC of #TheSecret in exchange for an honest review.
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An epic, sit down and read in one go plot! Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. Loved the way the story was told from multiple characters to show how a multitude of secrets develop, unfold and intertwine. 10 stars!
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This was a very good and well written read.  It sensitively deals with serious issues ( grief, domestic abuse and suicide) It also deals with coercive control and can be potentially triggering for anyone who has survived such relationships ( as the relationship between the Doctor and his wife is so well written)    It is slightly slow paced but it I thought it was a great read.
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The only two teenagers in a small town are fast friends, with no one else to rely on, they only have each other. But Hollie holds a secret, and it just might be what got her killed. 

It was definitely a slow start. I wanted to put it down as DNF, but after enjoying a previous book by Howells I decided to read on and give it a try. The story picked up and that’s the only reason it’s getting two stars instead of one. 

First off, not one character was enjoyable. The best character would have to be detective Jo, but she was so one dimensional and didn’t have enough to her. I didn’t like any of the other characters, at all, making it hard to carry on. 

The story itself was long and winding. It was much deeper than just a teenage girl with a secret. T offer warning, domestic violence, sex trafficking, underage pornography references, and the list goes on. It was almost too twisty and intertwined that it lost its edge and it lost its power. Then ending was very anti climactic and felt like a cop out.
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“The Secret”                 
 By: Debbie Howells

Everyone Knows a Secret, But Who's Telling Whom?
In the small English village of Abingworth, it's few locals are a closed-mouth sort who closely guard their privacy, like their homes surrounded with high shrubs and walls.  Yet, eyes are everywhere, and it seems that even the darkest secrets don’t go unnoticed.

One resident, Elise, is a flight attendant; the mother of teenage daughter, Niamh; and the unhappy wife of a philandering doctor.  Her sole reason for remaining in Abingworth is for her daughter—because her hateful, abusive husband is a serial womanizer.

While on a recent flight, Elise looks over a passenger, then stares at the magazine cover that the woman is viewing.  “…I’m drawn to a headline on the cover of the magazine she’s reading: ‘Only Ten Per Cent of People are Good’.  Ten per cent . .  . It seems a small number.  I frown, trying to work out if I’m one of them…”

If only one person out of ten is good, Elise ponders, then nine others aren't.  It's a pretty scary thought if the statistics are accurate.  In a very small community like Abingworth, then the majority of villagers must be untrustworthy individuals.

As “The Secret” unfolds, readers learn just how true that foreshadowing is after Niamh’s best friend, Hollie, disappears soon after telling her about a deep, dark confidential matter that no one else should know—well, except perhaps for the one who perpetrated the dastardly deed.

The quite town, now rocked by the young girl’s disappearance, is anything but forthcoming regardless of how persuasive Detective Joanna May persists in her interviews and questioning.  Things are definitely not what they appear in this quaint rural community.  It's too quiet.  Everyone seems suspicious and sly.  What are the residents hiding?  Why are they all so reluctant to talk?  Is there nefarious business lurking behind these walled homes and gardens?  There's not just one secret, but many undisclosed truths to be revealed in this fast-paced crime thriller.

As Mark Twain so aptly stated, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead.”   Find out who's harboring secrets; who’s up to clandestine activities; and who's a target because of dangerous knowledge they're keeping in “The Secret,” Debbie Howells latest pager-turner.

 "The Secret,” is action packed, as well as atmospherically and descriptively exquisite.  Following is a vivid passage that's a literary feast demonstrating Howells’ extraordinary artistic writing skills.

“…It seemed inevitable that Hollie and Dylan would fall in love. And, for a while, it was glorious.  In a village where we were the only teenagers, they were a common sight – hand in hand, his dark head towering above hers, Hollie in ripped jeans and an oversized coat that only accentuated her ethereal beauty.  When love consumed you the way theirs did, everything else was irrelevant. Until the day of yellow sky and wild winds, when it all stopped…”


The Book Maven’s Journal—Reviews for Word Connoisseurs

REVIEWER:                J.Hunt         
STAR RATING            ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

“The Secret”
Author:  Debbie Howells                                                                                                           
Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)  | Mysteries & Thrillers  |  
Publication Date:  06 January 2022                           
Publisher: Avon, a division of Harper Collins Publishers

With Sincerest Appreciation to NetGalley, Author Debbie Howells, and Avon, a division of Harper Collins Publishers, for Providing this Advance Reader’s Copy for Review.
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