Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain Book Review @SpainJoanne @QuercusBooks

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Six neighbours, six secrets, six reasons to want Olive Collins dead.

In the exclusive gated community of Withered Vale, people’s lives appear as perfect as their beautifully manicured lawns. Money, success, privilege – the residents have it all. Life is good.

There’s just one problem.

Olive Collins’ dead body has been rotting inside number four for the last three months. Her neighbours say they’re shocked at the discovery but nobody thought to check on her when she vanished from sight.

The police start to ask questions and the seemingly flawless facade begins to crack. Because, when it comes to Olive’s neighbours, it seems each of them has something to hide, something to lose and everything to gain from her death.

MY THOUGHTS

Dirty Little Secrets is an excellent example of how to write a psychological thriller. I remember being totally gripped by Jo Spain’s previous novel The Confession last year, so I jumped at the chance to read her second and I dived into it straight away; Jo Spain has delivered another brilliant book. Told from the perspectives of residents within a tight-knit community it makes for an utterly compulsive read that I could not put down.

The gated community known as Withered Vale is a collection of exclusive properties for the very wealthy. At the beginning of the book, one of the residents, Olive Collins, is found dead, but here’s the thing, her body was left rotting away in her house for three months before it was discovered. How could anyone not have checked on her in all that time, or realised that something was wrong? Already I could feel the tension as I wondered which of the neighbours knew something about Olive’s death and if any of them had played a part in it.

This book really will make you examine your own neighbours just that little more closely. Within such a small, tight-knit space there are some very different characters, who all have their own sets of problems. And it becomes very clear that none of them were particularly keen on Olive. So was one of them responsible for her death?

Jo Spain gets to know the psychology of her character’s really well, as I was reading I had suspicions of just about all of them. We also get to hear from Olive’s perspective, I found this unusual at first, because at this point, she is already dead, but as I got into the story, I thought it worked really well. We often don’t get to hear from the perspectives of victim’s in crime novels, so this is what made Dirty Little Secrets a really interesting read. I’m sure Olive is a character who will provoke strong opinions among readers.

This is an excellent, character-driven novel that I am a big, big fan of. Jo Spain has leapt onto my list of must-read authors. She creates a real sense that everyone in this book is hiding something and I just had to know what the truth was.

Thank you to Quercus Books and Netgalley for providing me with an advance review copy.

Publisher: Quercus

Publication date: 7th February 2019

Print length: 416 pages

If you would like to purchase Dirty Little Secrets, you can do so by clicking on one of the following links below.

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The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths Book Review @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks

the stranger diaries

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A gripping contemporary Gothic thriller from the bestselling author of the Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries: Susan Hill meets Gone Girl and Disclaimer.

Clare Cassidy is no stranger to tales of murder. As a literature teacher specialising in the Gothic writer R.M. Holland, she teaches a short course on them every year. Then Clare’s life and work collide tragically when one of her colleagues is found dead, a line from an R.M. Holland story by her body. The investigating police detective is convinced the writer’s works somehow hold the key to the case.

Not knowing who to trust, and afraid that the killer is someone she knows, Clare confides her darkest suspicions and fears about the case to her journal. Then one day she notices some other writing in the diary. Writing that isn’t hers…

MY THOUGHTS

Elly Griffiths is back with a new stand-alone novel, The Stranger Diaries. I love Elly Griffiths’ writing. I’ve recently read the first two novels in her Dr Ruth Galloway series, and with all three books I have read, I have found them utterly engaging from the start. If you haven’t read any of Elly’s previous work before, this is the perfect time to start.

Her latest book had me hooked from the first page and immediately she sets the tone for what is a dark and an absorbing tale. We meet Clare Cassidy, who is a teacher at a secondary school, and who also teaches creative writing in her spare time. The school that Clare is teaching at is a Victorian mansion, once owned by RM Holland, whom Clare is currently researching and planning to write a book about. But at the beginning of the book, one of her fellow teachers, Ella, is found murdered, and she won’t be the first to die. But what is more disturbing to Clare is the haunting link the current murders have to events that took place in the time of the man she is researching.

Clare was an intriguing character from the start. The woman who has been found dead was a good friend of hers at the school and Clare becomes anxious and is determined to find out who has done this, especially when more deaths begin to occur.

There are lots of reasons which make this book compelling; the strange writing that starts appearing in Clare’s diaries, these added some really chilling moments, her research into the old owner of the house, and the characters around Clare. There were very few people in Clare’s life who I thought I could trust. This is what made this book particularly enjoyable as I tried to work out if any of them were responsible for the murders and why.

I really enjoyed reading Elly’s latest book. I hope that she will feature Detective Harbinder again as she is also a character who I really engaged with and I would really like to see her progress further. The Stranger Diaries is addictive, a thoroughly enjoyable Gothic tale. Definitely recommended.

Publisher: Quercus

Publication date: 1st November 2018

Print length: 416 pages

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