Author: Jo Spain
Published: February 2019 by Quercus
Category: Murder, Mystery, Domestic Noir, Book Review
Death stalked the Vale.
In every corner, every whisper.
They just didn’t know it yet.
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.
The small and affluent gated community of Withered Vale is home to six sets of neighbours and Olive Collins, a long time resident of the area and whose small cottage was surrounded by the other, more recently built houses.
When Olive’s decomposing body is discovered months after her death, Frank Brazil the investigating officer and his partner detective Emma Child, are amazed that no-one had thought to check on their neighbour or raise the alarm. At first Olive’s death looked to be a possible suicide, but it soon becomes clear that the forensics and other evidence suggested foul play.
At first there was just me. Before my house had a number. Before the others arrived.
It’s amazing how long they left me, my neighbours. Not one, not a single one, came to check on me. Not even Ron. And Chrissy only rang the police when my cottage looked like a public health hazard.
On the surface life in Withered Vale seems pretty near perfect and the residents perfectly respectable. There’s a good variation in age and background and as the detectives begin questioning the neighbours, outward appearances prove to be deceptive. It seems everyone had a problem with Olive. She was the classic nosy neighbour…and everyone was hiding something. Each of the residents had a potential motive for murder.
Initially Olive thought having near neighbours would be a blessing and ease her loneliness but things didn’t work out as she hoped. She tried too hard and eventually her friendly advances were rejected. Olive didn’t take kindly to that at all and she began to take more extreme measures.
Dirty Little Secrets is an engrossing read told from the alternating perspectives of the neighbours, the two detectives and even Olive herself. There’s so much going on below the surface—addiction, affairs, arguments, people avoiding attention and behaving suspiciously, plus much more. We get an insight into everyone’s lives and history a little at a time, building the momentum. And I loved the interactions and evolving friendly relationship between Frank and Emma.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Jo Spain’s books and once again she delivers an extremely well written, dark, disturbing and twisty read with a brilliant plot and an ending I wasn’t expecting.
About the Author
Jo Spain is the author of the Inspector Tom Reynolds series. Her first book, top ten bestseller With Our Blessing, was a finalist in the 2015 Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller. The Confession her first standalone thriller, was a number one bestseller and translated all over the world.
Jo is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, a former political advisor in the Irish parliament and former vice-chair of InterTrade Ireland business body.
She now writes novels and screenplays full-time. Her first co-written TV show TAKEN DOWN was broadcast in Ireland in 2018 and bought by international distributors Fremantle.
Jo lives in Dublin with her husband and four young children. In her spare time (she has four children, there is no spare time really) she likes to read. Her favourite authors include Pierre Lemaitre, Jo Nesbo, Liane Moriarty, Fred Vargas and Louise Penny. She also watches TV detective series and was slightly obsessed with The Bridge, Trapped and The Missing.
Jo thinks up her plots on long runs in the woods. Her husband sleeps with one eye open and all her friends have looked at her strangely since she won her publishing deal.