#aww2019 · 2019 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · dual time frame · historical fiction · mystery · romance

Book Review: The Secrets of Palmerston House by Phillipa Nefri Clark

Title: The Secrets of Palmerston House: A Christie Ryan Mystery (River’s End Book 3)palmerstonhouse

Author: Phillipa Nefri Clark

Published: November 30th 2018

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 274

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Historical, Mystery, Romance

RRP: $4.99 (e book)

Rating: 4 stars

1853. A fateful game of poker changed the fortunes of two families forever. A home was lost. But what was left behind?

2018. The wedding of Christie Ryan and Martin Blake is only weeks away and River’s End is buzzing with excitement.

But when a stranger arrives at Palmerston House, a new mystery arises. How does he know so much about the Ryan family, and what do a nineteenth century diary, a grandfather clock, and an old key have in common?

As a dangerous plot unfolds, long hidden secrets threaten to change everything held dear to the town.

The Secrets of Palmerston House will sweep you on a journey to the past and back, where enduring friendships warm the heart, a sad goodbye brings a new start, and the power of true love shines.


Swirling secrets, a cracking mystery, love and an old house all collide in The Secrets of Palmerston House by Australian author Phillipa Nefri Clark. This book represents the third book in the River’s End series, which sees the reappearance of the characters that featured in the previous instalments of this intriguing series. If you are new to the work of Phillipa Nefri Clark and this series, I can assure you that The Secrets of Palmerston House can be read as a standalone novel.

Drawing together two timelines, one in the present day and the other in 1853, The Secrets of Palmerston House returns to River’s End. River’s End is in a flurry of excitement, with the impending nuptials of much loved couple Christie and Martin. The appearance of a stranger, a disappearance and a timeless mystery kick starts an intriguing series of events for the protagonists of The Secrets of Palmerston House to deal with. In the present day, a diary, a lock and a clock all provide an essential bridge to the past, revealing a fascinating glimpse into times gone by. We meet the past occupants of Palmerston House and we learn how their fate is tied up to the present state of affairs of this abode.  The Secrets of Palmerston House is truly a magical journey into the past and the present. This book has plenty to offer by the way of romance and friendships. It also comes with an age-old mystery to solve!

This is my third outing with Phillipa Nefri Clark, an Australian storyteller I have come to admire. I have a penchant for romance, mysteries and old houses, so this book drew immediate appeal. I wasn’t disappointed at all in the latest story from Phillipa Nefri Clark, I was pulled in from the fascinating prologue and this story maintained my interest from start to finish. What a stunning cover to match too! I love the placement of the playing cards!

Dual timelines are my favourite style of narrative and I was so pleased to see Phillipa Nefri Clark incorporate this format into her new novel. I was drawn to both narratives in The Secrets of Palmerston House. Nefri Clark sets up a sense of intrigue in both storylines and each clearly links to the other. I loved the period detail in the 1853 storyline, it was handled with great care and historical forethought. I came to really look forward to each 1853 segment, as each chapter provided another vital clue to the final outcome of events.

There was a great sense of familiarly to The Secrets of Palmerston House in terms of characterisation. Phillipa Nefri Clark has clearly found her groove with this recurring character set and this emanates from the pages of the novel. For me personally, it was like a reunion taking place when I first reconnected with each of the characters that feature in The Secrets of Palmerston House. I came to remember what I liked about them and I enjoyed watching on as they were dealt with new challenges, as well as some mysterious new figures!

The setting base, River’s End and Palmerston House, is completely embedded in the narrative. I looked forward to each location based description. The prose in this area of the book really is a joy to read.

‘In the third bedroom of Palmerston House, which once belonged to Martha, Bernie stood with one hand on the window. The front grounds of the property sprawled across an acre or so of perfect lawns and a mix of manicured English plants and native trees. Somehow it all blended into one magnificent garden.’

Suspense, danger, intrigue, suspicion, the bonds of love, friendship and community all define The Secrets of Palmerston House. I highly recommend this title and all of Phillipa’s previous novels, if you haven’t discovered them already!

The Secrets of Palmerston House by Phillipa Nefri Clark was published on November 30th 2018 by the author, details on how to purchase the book can be found on the author’s website here.

*With thanks to the author, Phillipa Nefri Clark, for providing me with a copy of this novel, in exchange for an honest review.

The Secrets of Palmerston House is book #11 of the 2019 Australian Women Writers Challenge 




7 thoughts on “Book Review: The Secrets of Palmerston House by Phillipa Nefri Clark

  1. Thank you so much, Mrs B! What a fabulous review and I am deeply grateful for the time and effort you put in your reviews, which in itself creates such a lovely story about the story.

    You’ve made my day!


    Liked by 1 person

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