Cover Image: The Secret

The Secret

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Member Reviews

“But none of us knows what lies behind appearances, or what we’re capable of in extreme circumstances.”

Teenagers Dylan and Hollie were in love…everyone in the village could see how perfectly suited they were for each other…until one day, they were not…

In the small village of Abingworth, residents are hiding secrets behind their closed doors. When Hollie tells her friend Niamh hers, it has deadly consequences. Hollie vanishes and once the police begin knocking on doors, they slowly put the puzzle pieces together that the villagers are hiding something. When Hollie’s body is discovered, the search then turns to who murdered the teen and why? Could it be the neighbor who is suspected of distributing child pornography? Perhaps the womanizing local doctor who abuses and controls his wife? The abused wife? Or could it be any one of the villagers hiding behind their mask of normalcy? The list of suspects grows as the secrets become told…one by one…

If edgy psychological thrillers are your cup of tea, then put on the kettle and dive in! Deep, dark and depressing with a twisted ending that will cause you to question if some secrets are better left just that…a secret…

**I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own. **
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*There are TWs for this book so make sure to look them up before reading*

Wow! This book was so gripping and had so many twists and cliff-hangers that you just wanted to keep reading it! I have found that I love reading books that are set in small villages because you know that people have secrets that they aren’t sharing with others! Howells did such a good job keeping you on your toes throughout the book! When I thought I had it figured out, she would add another twist in there. I also think that she did a good job handing sensitive topics including child pornography and domestic violence. I also love reading books from multiple POVs (which this was) because you can glean so much from the different characters and their thoughts. Overall, I loved this book and I would definitely recommend it! 

This review will be posted to my Instagram blog (read_betweenthecovers) in the near future!
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back to the back, this is fantastic!, it has so many aspects and subplot’s which all increased the character and plot development.

There were so many different sides to the characters (Andrew 😡) it was so interesting following Jo and the team to find out what had happening.

A fast paced, twister of a thriller which is a must read!
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I loved this book, but I knew I would as I've sped through the author's previous books.

The story centres around Elise, her very damaged relationship with her husband Andrew, their troubled teenage daughter Niamh and her close friend, Hollie. When Hollie suddenly disappears after having confided a dark secret to Niamh, this sets the wheels in motion for a multitude of secrets, lies and some extremely shady behaviour to be unearthed.

I was gripped by the clever and constantly evolving plot, and each of the characters, even though some were obviously extremely unlikable! The village setting is well portrayed and shows no matter how well you think you might know your neighbours, nobody ever truly knows what goes on behind closed doors. There are strong themes of domestic abuse, coercive control and pornography, all of which are skillfully and sensitively written. 

It's the kind of book where you think you've started to figure out what's happening, until another twist completely proved me wrong! 

This is a real page turner and only reinforces my view of how engrossing the author's books are. I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys gripping well written psychological thrillers.

Thanks to the author, Debbie Howells, publishers Avon Books UK and Net Galley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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The secret is a story of village life and how is can hide many secrets. Elise and Andrew moved to Abingworth to make a fresh start after his affair but sadly it does not go as planned. 

Told from multiple perspectives this psychological thriller is quite a slow burner. It deals well with the themes of domestic abuse and child abuse. 

I didn’t feel like you go the usual twists and turns of a psychological thriller, the ones there were I was expecting. That said it was a great story and characterisation. 

Definitely worth reading.
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I thought this book sounded interesting, and I was looking forward to reading it .However I found the pace of the book to be too slow for me, and the characters were rather dull, and not very likable. I am sorry to say it didn't grab me or hold my interest. Not my best read,.
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This thriller had many threads running throughout the story and this can either go really well or crash and burn. In The Secret - it totally worked! I enjoyed this and once I got past the slow start, I couldn't put it down.

The "twist" was fairly easy to spot coming, but still added a great element to the overall finish and I enjoyed this.

Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC.
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I found this book a gripping fast paced domestic thriller. When many people in a village have secrets, how do you know who to trust. The story is told from the perspective of Elise, Niamh  and Jo. Elise is married to Dr Andrew Buckley, Niamh is their daughter whose friend Hollie has gone missing. Before she went missing Hollie told Niamh a shocking secret, Jo is the detective assigned to the case 
There are many aspects of this book which may cause upset to readers, trigger points being coercive control and domestic and physical abuse, child pornography but it's written very empatheticly. 
This is my first read by Debbie but I like her style of writing, I certainly didn't see the ending coming.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read the advanced copy, I am under no obligation to provide a review
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I really enjoyed this, yes there was some very hard parts to read.  Lots of trigger warnings involved. 
It was very  detailed and the story line was very good.  Some characters I loved and obviously some I despised. Which in my opinion makes this a fantastic book and a good author. 
Really enjoyed the twists that were in this book.
Brilliant read.
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i so love this authors books . always addictive  how well do we know our neighbour s . Elise is married to Andrew she is an air hostess her husband a doctor they have a daughter Niamh they live in a village where everyone knows everyone but each neighbour has secrets Niamh friend Hollie is very troubled and scared . but Elise hides from everyone how cruel her husband is but one night Hollie does not come home and the police are called it is so good will have you gripped to the last chapter
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This was a twisty thriller with several threads running through it which kept you wondering how they all tied together right up until the end. This is one of those reads that gets increasingly engrossing the further into the story you get and the complexity of the characters just grows. Told from the viewpoints of mother, daughter and detective it’s a tale of friendship, secrets and a close yet distant village community with a dark undercurrent running through it. Niamh, the daughter, was a very surprising character, very perspicacious but playing her cards very closely to her chest. Overall this is quite a dark but intriguing read.
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This was my first time reading anything by Debbie Howells and I enjoyed it, I will say there's are some triggers around mental health/domestic abuse and some others in this book, so if you think that maybe not your thing right now then this is ok.   There won't be any in my review but I think its important knowing that going into a book because honestly we need to look after our mental health the best we can.

Only 10% of people are good' this is a quote that repeats itself throughout the book, this crime novel tells the story of the Buckley family who seems to be haunted by death and abuse, the village in which they live holds some pretty awful secrets, and they are about to come out of the closet, bringing the Buckleys along for the ride.

Hollie and Niamh are the only two teens in the village, Hollie discovers a secret about the village and its residents, she tells her best friend and swears her to secrecy, the thing is one of them goes missing and the whole village is under suspicion.

The missing person isn't the secret by the way, but you won't find that out until the very end of the book, and I know that can be frustrating at times as a reader to want to get there faster, but I don't recommend skipping because a) why would you and b) you'll miss out on the good stuff.

It seems everyone has secrets in this village, its not the type of place you'd want to raise a family, relationships are not as they seems, there's affairs and abuse, there's some seriously vile characters who you will at some point wish bad things upon however there's some real champions too.

I liked it, I didn't love it, mainly because of the theme, it was heavy going, and I really had to put it down a few times and read something light hearted, but, crime lovers will love this., and like I said I liked it I just didn't love it.  I probably wasn't in the best Frame of mind when I started but it oddly gets you hooked and before you know it you're in there and its a strange mix of not being able to put it down and needing to put it down

All in all I'd say four out of five for me - swerve it if you think the theme may not be for you, mental health matters.
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Thank you NetGalley and Avon Books for the advance copy of this book in return for an honest review. 
 This is the first book I’ve read by this author and i’ll defiantly be reading more.  I found the first few chapters a little slow but once i got into it it sped up nicely, each chapter is written using one of three characters point of view which made it a quick read, it does however cover a number of very difficult issues which some might find hard to read (domestic abuse). 
 I did manage to see the ending coming but what a great twist it was .
Would defiantly recommend The Secret.
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I couldn't get into this and didn't finish it.  The characters weren't particularly likeable and reading over and over about Andrew being a terrible husband but for some reason Elise couldn't leave him (I assume this is the secret, or one of the secrets, of the title) was tiring.  I will not rate this anywhere since I didn't finish.
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Thank you to Avon books, and NetGalley, for another fast paced thriller with an unexpected ending!  I love thrillers that deal with hidden community darkness, secrets, and "at all costs we keep our secrets" themes and this thriller delivers for readers looking for an engaging thriller.  3.75 stars, rounded up   Some content in terms of abuse and suggestion of sexual exploitation should be noted for readers as that is part of exploring what underlies the mystery.    

The examination of what we don't know about where we live and who is in our community are strong themes that bring in consideration of human behavior, motivations of people who engage in harmful behavior, and why people keep secrets.  I appreciated the focus on a strong female lead who valued her the memory of her friend enough to demand to know what happened to her.  All too often these are themes in suspense books but are worthy of thinking about in the context of how young people today see movements for social justice, for recognition that behaviors and actions in communities, etc, as ways to obtain change and justice, I appreciate a book that perhaps recognizes the power of an individual to look for answers despite obstacles.

The Secret by Debbie Howells is recommended for fans of thrillers that take on small town secret themes (I think of Mary Kubica as an example) and for readers who like an unexpected twist.

I will share my review on instagram, amazon, B&N, twitter, and my website closer to publication date!  Thank you again to Avon for a fun thriller, I look forward to reading more from your authors.
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CW: domestic abuse, coercive control, child sexual exploitation 

Hollie Hampton and Niamh Buckley are the only two teenagers in the village of Abingworth, so naturally they become friends. Sixteen year old Hollie, ethereal and over dramatic, is acting more out of character than usual. She knows a secret, one which she shared with Niamh shortly before she went missing.  Could her disappearance be related to the porn ring that police have been pinpointed to the village. 

It seems everyone in the village has secrets, relationships not as they seem, affairs and abuse hidden behind closed doors. This book covers a multitude of issues, I was gripped until the end. This is the first book by Debbie Howells I have read but I will look out for more books from her.
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A gripping psychological thriller.
Elise had a seemingly enviable lifestyle, she has everything she needs, lovely house in a small village, is cabin crew for an airline, she has a teenage daughter, Niamh and her husband is the local doctor. However not everything is as it seems on the surface. She is stuck in an abusive relationship which is escalating and is becoming more and more out of control.
When her daughter’s best friend is found dead events from the past come back to the fore and everything seems to be linked to a child porn ring the police have uncovered locally. 
A real page turner I could hardly put down.   I wasn’t fully convinced by all the characters especially Elise but the rest more than made up for her.
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This was an enjoyable enough book but I thought it dragged a bit at the beginning and was lacking in suspense. I was interested enough to finish the book but I don't think I'd seek out the author in the future.
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This was Very good mystery. I didn’t know who did it until the last page  I would highly recommend this book
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I absolutely loved this book and there were so many layers that I didn’t expect but they fit so well. The twists were well timed and not too far out there but definitely caught me by surprise. I thought the ending was very interesting… I like how vague it was regarding Niamh as a murderer; she pushed Hollie, who hit her head but she was seemingly fine until she wasn’t and when Niamh had a change to save her, no matter how quick that moment came and went, she didn’t act! 


“Only ten percent of people are good”. This quote makes its way throughout this book multiple times and the statistic proved to be true for the characters. This thrilling crime novel tells the story of the Buckley family who is haunted by death and abuse. The village in which they live in is unique and seemingly holds the darkest secrets, belonging not just to the Buckleys, but to the rest of the community as well, until the truth is forced to come to light. 

This well paced novel is layered with multiple story lines and secondary characters who complete the plot. Although there are themes of mental illness, suicide, and domestic violence, these heavy topics are used in an intentional way that demonstrate humanity and leaves the reader questioning who belongs to that 10 Percent.

Thank you for this thrilling read! I will be posting a more content about this book on my Instagram @balancedbookshelf!
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