One of the books I first heard about last year at the Quercus showcase was the latest novel from Jo Spain which was published last week. I read and enjoyed her previous novel, The Confession, so was very much looking forward to reading this one!
‘Death stalked the Vale. In every corner, every whisper. They just didn’t know it yet.’
The events in this novel take place in a gated community called Withered Vale. Life here looks perfect to those on the outside, home to a privileged few who seemingly have it all, whether that is the perfect family, career success or wealth. This small, exclusive neighbourhood comprises of seven houses, and at the centre of it all is Olive Collins. As with any small community, there is an intriguing dynamic created by the fact that everyone knows everyone, or so they think. And in the case of Olive Collins and her six neighbours, there is plenty to uncover about their relationships between each other. This proves all the more crucial when Olive’s body is discovered inside her home, where it has remained undisturbed for months. This immediately raises questions as to why this is the case, given how each of the residents has crossed paths with her, and how she plays a key part in their own stories. I was gripped by this story straight away, and eager to uncover the circumstances surrounding Olive’s death, whilst unearthing the secrets that lie behind closed doors.
Dirty Little Secrets was a book that grabbed my attention which I devoured pretty quickly, reading the majority of it in one sitting. The chapters alternate between the stories of the different residents on the Vale, including Olive herself. But whilst there are a lot of perspectives I found it easy enough to keep track of everyone and build up a picture of them as individuals and how they fit into the community. Each chapter was also relatively short which made it a book that had a ‘just one more chapter’ feel. Along the way we discover that everything is not quite as it seems and there are cracks beginning to appear in the neighbours perfectly presented lives, where relationships are put to the test and secrets look set to be revealed. The story deals with a number of issues relating to family relationships, infidelity, addiction and violence amongst others. And Olive’s connection to these individual issues meant that there were multiple suspects who all had the potential to gain from her demise. I thought that the story was well paced, with little clues along the way to keep the reader guessing as to which way the mystery may go, and I did change my mind a couple of times as it built up to its conclusion.
Dirty Little Secrets is another compulsive read from Jo Spain which had me gripped, as I became immersed in the dark world that lies behind the gates of Withered Gale, and how a woman’s death has an impact on the lives that unfold there.
Dirty Little Secrets was published on 7th February 2019 by Quercus Books, with thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.