The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood
My rating: 5 of 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...
I really enjoyed this intriguing dark novel with a quite frankly unlikeable dysfunctional family and their damaged friends whose flawed personalities proved to be very absorbing and fascinating. The subject matter of a child who goes missing is distressing and riveting for the reader who desperately wants to know what has happened to this 3 year old child. Coco is an identical twin to Ruby her sister and she seemingly disappears on her fathers' 50th birthday party weekend away.
The story is told in the past and in the present so we get to know about that birthday weekend, learn about the characters who are really not a nice bunch and more importantly what Alex Marwood wants you to believe happened. The present is told by Milly one of Sean the fathers' daughters from a previous marriage. Sean has been married 4 times and the twins Coco and Ruby are the youngest and the product of his 3rd marriage to Claire.
The tragedy of what happened to Coco binds the family and friends together while they each keep secrets and lies from each other that culminates in the truth coming out after Sean the father dies suddenly.
I liked Milly (Mila) and her half sister Ruby and in the end I also felt immense empathy and sorrow for Rubys' mother Claire. I also liked the way the releationship built between the two girls as they got to know each other bound together by the death of their father. The other characters were so self absorbed, selfish and manipulative that it wasn't possible to like them but my goodness they were addictive and I had to read on to the end. The pace was just right for this type of novel, slowly building, tying up all loose ends and just when you think all has been revealed in comes the curve ball - great twist and end to this novel. Completely unexpected and a great way to finish.
This is what I look for in a thriller where nothing is as it seems and the writer plays with emotions and guides the reader up the garden path until she is ready to let you know everything - clever and well written. Clever plot lines make this an addictive read and such a tangled spiders web of family insecurities, misplaced loyalties and innocents that get caught up in this sticky web make this a gripping read.
Really unexpected ending and a great way to end the novel - brilliant. Has to be a 5 star rating from me as it ticks all the boxes; highly recommended.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.