Cover Image: The Secret

The Secret

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Member Reviews

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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This is my second book by this author and neither one wowed me. They aren't bad books and I did like them a bit. I liked the two points of view in this one and it was a quick read but I was looking forward to an edge of your seat thriller and felt a little disappointed as this wasn't very suspenseful as I was hoping. I found the first part of the book dragged a little and was slow moving, the book was a little repetitive and the big reveal wasn't that shocking.

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This was an okay read but I found it a bit dull and unfortunately a bit obvious. It took a while to get going, as a result the beginning felt slow and I was not immediately hooked. I did enjoy reading from the other characters perspectives and I liked the setting for the read, a sleepy village provides the perfect backdrop for lies. I have just come to expect more from Howells so I was disappointed.

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After reading The Vow, I added this author to my list of 'one's to look out for'.
The story is multi layered and kept my attention.
The different narratives meant we had a better view of what happened, though to be honest, I couldn't distinguish between them. The 'voices' weren't distinct enough.
Elise narrative was repetitive and somehow I couldn't fully engaged with her.
An uncomfortable subject matter,and not an entirely convincing story. Didn't fully deliver,though the final twist might have surprised a few readers.

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Thank you Netgalley and Avon Books UK, Avon fir the arc of this book. The beginning was really slow. When things started to happen I realized that the characters were completely unlikable, and the ones that were not completely unlikable were uninteresting. The story was interesting, but the revelations were distasteful and the final twist was easy to guess.

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Elsie Buckley is married to Andrew who is a doctor and they have a teen daughter, Niamh. Niamh has a close relationship with her friend Hollie. One day Hollie tells Niamh a huge secret that she is forbidden to share. After this, Hollie goes missing and soon after her body is found. Detective May is now forced to question everyone in this small village that they live in. She uncovers some pretty horrible secrets and she is left to discover what happened to Hollie. Was it murder and why?

This was a very detailed book with a lot of characters. Some parts were harder to read than others but the story was well written. The ending was a surprise and had some great twists. I would read more books by Debbie Howells. She knows how to tell a great story.

TW: Domestic abuse

Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for my ARC in exchange for my honest review

This review will be posted to my Instagram Blog ( in the near future.

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I received an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review

It was ok. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t atrocious. It was just meh. Found myself more interested in getting to the end than the characters or the narrative

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Deception And Duplicity…
An insular village; secrets and lies, deception and duplicity abound but who here would actually kill to keep something secret? A compelling, well written suspense with a credible cast of characters, an edgy storyline and touching on difficult, dark themes which are dealt with an empathetic sleight of hand. A truly immersive,one sitting read.

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The Secret by Debbie Howells
This was a briliant small town mystery. Told from multiple points of view the story kept unravelling more and more shocks and twists and turns. Brilliant. Highly recommended xx

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Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to read The Secret!
LOTS of secret and lies in this who dunnit thriller!
One you don’t want to put down and can’t wait to get back to.
One twist I guessed coming but did not expect the ending! You thought it was all wrapped up and all revealed, then BAM! Love those kind of endings.

I liked the different character perspectives and found the book easy to read, the words and chapters flowing.
The characters were believable, and you could feel empathy for SOME of them! The others could make your blood boil.
A sad but so real subject of how marriages can look perfect, but you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

Would definitely recommend.

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Elise Buckley is on duty as cabin crew when she views a headline of a passengers magazine which states that ‘Only 10% of people are good’. She reflects on this and understands only too well how tenuous her family life with GP husband Andrew and daughter Niamh is. Niamh’s friend Hollie has a barrel load of baggage, what does she confide to Niamh before she disappears? The story is told by Elise, Niamh and by DS Jo(anna) May.

This novel confronts a number of very difficult issues and does so well. It’s a good examination of coercive control with all its horrifying ramifications. The book is quite sinister in a number of ways. There are several characters living in fear for a variety of reasons, some are controlled in ways that range from vicious to blackmail and there are several forms of abuse. The perspectives of Elise and Jo are done effectively, I’m a bit less certain of Niamh but as she’s a teenager then maybe her motivations are understandable. She’s caught between a rock and a hard place. The character of Andrew is done extremely well, what a vile excuse for a human being he is. The portrayal of the small Sussex village closing its protective ranks like the high hedges or walls that surround their multi million pound properties is also conveyed well although I’m not entirely convinced everyone would stay schtum, I know I wouldn’t! However, let’s keep that headline about the other 90% in mind!

Although it’s fair to say I do enjoy the book and find it a compelling read, towards the end the revelations are not that much of a surprise as they kind of had to be. However, full credit to the author for her stark portrayal of the issues covered in the book and especially via the character of Elise where she really digs deep into the psychology of her situation which leads to greater understanding of her actions.

Overall, it’s not an easy read in places nor is it meant to be but it’s well worth reading.

With thanks to NetGalley and especially to Avon Books UK for the much appreciated arc in return for an honest review.

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I should have seen that ending coming, but I did not. One of the reasons I like mysteries is to see if I can put together the clues to figure it out. With The Secret, I could not and that already gets a star from me! There is a lot going on in the book. And at times a lot of characters, but they were always distinguishable from each other. Another star! Told from 3 different POV’s we learn what happened prior to and what happens after local teen Hollie is found murdered. Who would want to harm Hollie and why? In this seemingly idyllic village, nothing is as it seems and every one has a secret. This novel is full of suspense and intrigue. One thing is for sure, it’s never dull! Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for this action packed thriller.

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