Cover Image: The Secret

The Secret

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Member Reviews

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.
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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
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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. ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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