Title: Little Secrets
Author: Anna Snoekstra
Published: October 23rd 2017
Publisher: Harlequin Books Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Australian, Crime, Mystery, Suspense,Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
What happens when ambition trumps the truth?
A town reeling in the wake of tragedy
An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town’s courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside..
An aspiring journalist desperate for a story
The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn’t nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story-a big one.
Little dolls full of secrets
In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock’s daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town’s already fractured police force.
Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose’s attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.
With temperatures steadily rising here in Australia, Australian novelist Anna Snoekstra of Only Daughter fame returns with her second work of fiction, a sizzling summer crime thriller titled, Little Secrets.
Colmstock is a small Australian town doing it tough. The local automotive factory has closed its doors, leaving behind a trail of debt and unemployment. Further despair comes to this tiny town when the local courthouse is burnt down by an arsonist. Even more devastating is the fact that a town favourite, a young thirteen year old boy, was trapped inside the courthouse at the time of the fire. Adding further fuel to the fire is the mysterious appearance of a series of porcelain dolls, which form exact carbon copies of a number of young girls who are key residents of Colmstock. With authorities still struggling to arrest the perpetrator of the deadly courthouse fire, the bizarre case of the porcelain dolls stretches resources to their limits. Aspiring journalist and local resident Rose Blakey sees what is happening to her small town as the perfect means to kick-start her career and solve a mystery at the same time.
The author of Little Secrets, Anna Snoekstra, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly prize in 2017 for her debut thriller, Only Daughter. I was completely blown away by Snoekstra’s exciting thriller last year and it remains one of my favourite debut thriller offerings from an Australian writer. I soon jumped at the chance to read and review Snoekstra’s second novel, Little Secrets for Beauty and Lace based on my enjoyment of Snoekstra’s previous work.
Little Secrets is a slight departure from Only Daughter. Whilst it is a thriller, I would best describe this novel as a solid piece of Australian small town fiction, with crime and mystery elements. The pace is less frantic than Only Daughter, it plods along much more gently, focussing its energies on creating a strong air of suspicion and paranoia. There were many times while I was reading this novel that I was reminded of the work of great Australian novelists such as Candice Fox and Jane Harper. Snoekstra’s writing falls easily into the same calibre of these respected female Australian writers.
As much as this is a crime, mystery and thriller based story, Little Secrets places much emphasis on its characterisation. Combining this refined characterisation with a tight plot, makes Little Secrets a novel that stands out from the packed thriller genre crowd. Snoekstra devotes plenty of time in her second novel to exploring the intricate psyche of many of the troubled residents of Colmstock and this aspect of the novel held great appeal for me personally. A focus on long time residents and main protagonists Rose and Mia, shows us how Snoekstra is able to compile a well rendered character list. Rose and Mia were likable and they soon drew my sympathies. Underneath their outside veneer, Rose and Mia also have a set of imperfections that is explored well by Snoekstra.
Snoekstra is adept at formulating a novel that completely encapsulates the experience of small town life. Through the main protagonist Rose and the residents of Colmstock, the reader is given a strong glimpse into life in a small town that has suffered financial ruin and loss. It is a town where the residents are in each other’s hip pockets but at the same time they have secrets that have concealed from their fellow townsfolk. This forms the central source of intrigue in the novel. Colmstock is also a town defined by instances of drug abuse, domestic violence, murder, corruption and arson. There is a pervading sense of hopelessness and many of the residents are clearly spiralling into a pit of despair. Even the local police seem to be struggling with what they have to work with, following the arson attack and the odd appearance of the porcelain dolls. As a result of all these circumstances, a strong sense of paranoia sets in. Snoekstra explores the scenario of a town under siege and a great deal of stress when fingers are pointed at one another. The final result and mystery of who committed the arson attacks, as well as who is responsible for the strange dolls had me reading this book intently until the close. The twisty ride I was taken on was quite explosive!
I am now a firm fan of Anna Snoekstra’s work, courtesy of my experience of reading both her books. I look forward with great anticipation for her next release, which I have no doubt will be as astute and as compulsive as Little Secrets.
Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra was published on 23rd October 2017 by Harlequin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of Little Secrets, Anna Snoekstra, visit here.
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Books Australia. To read the original review on the Beauty and Lace website please visit here.