Thursday, 7 January 2016

Book Review - The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

Amazon UK
Title: The Darkest Secret
Author: Alex Marwood
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 1st January 2016
Rating: 4.5 Stars

Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.

My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family's holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.

But what really happened to Coco?

Over two intense weekends - the first when Coco goes missing and the second twelve years later at the funeral of her father - the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed...

This may have been my first Alex Marwood book, but it certainly won't be my last, if The Darkest Secret is anything to go by. What a gripping and intense mystery, with a huge cast of characters, and the secrets and revelations kept on coming at a good pace.

However before you get to the business end of the book,  there is all the set up, and I found some of this quite confusing, as there are at least 4 sets of adults and many children all mentioned and introduced quite early on, and I found it hard to remember who belonged to who, who was related to who etc...

The Darkest Secret is set over two main weekends, set 12 years apart. 12 years ago, Coco Jackson went missing from where the family and friends were on holiday and she was only 3 years old. She had an identical twin, called Ruby who was still there, but had no idea what went on. 

And now Ruby's father has died, and all the people that were there that fateful night, are of course reconvening for the funeral. Ruby is reintroduced to her half sister Milly, who had never really been keen on the 3 year olds at the time, but is now discovering common thoughts about their father. 

With the exception of Ruby, Milly and perhaps Clare (Ruby's mother), I really disliked all the other characters in this book. Their behaviour was completely despicable and disgusting and I found myself rooting for  a different ending to the one provided. Although even that had some last minute surprises. 

Both weekends play out in alternating chapters, with in chapters in 2004 focusing on a different person each time, whereas the whole of the present day was focused on Milly. I loved the beginning of the book, with its various witness statements and the appeal for information about Coco. To me there were a lot of similarities between the appeal and what was announced about that night, and to a real life high profile case. I've no idea if that was deliberate, but did make the story feel even more real.

After a slightly slow start The Darkest Secret became harder and harder to put down, until I just sat engrossed and oblivious in it until I reached the end.  If this is the standard of thrillers being released in 2016, then we are in for a fabulous year. 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Sphere for this review copy. This is my honest opinion. 

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