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The Darkest Secret

 

Author: Alex Marwood
Published: 07 January 2016
Reviewed: 26 December 2015
What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Read more at: http://www.london24.com/entertainment/book_review_what_milo_saw_by_virginia_macgregor_1_3750981
Copyright © LONDON24

Copy kindly supplied by Little, Brown Book Group UK in return for an honest review.

  5 out 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…

   

2004 – Claire and Sean Jackson head off to Bournemouth for Sean’s 50th birthday, they plan to throw a lavish party with a select group of Sean’s friends to celebrate, but Sean’s friends have no intention of wasting their weekend looking after their own children, there is drinking to be done and fun to be had, and the nanny leaving is an inconvenience they can well do without.  But thank goodness for teenage Simone, her offers to watch the children at night are greatly appreciated and it means the adults can have their fun.    

Twelve years later – The death of Sean Jackson reawakens the interest in Coco’s disappearance, and for his remaining daughters it brings new questions, especially from Ruby, Coco’s twin sister.  When Mila (Camilla) agrees to take her to the funeral, she doesn’t realise that Ruby will have so many questions about what happened that weekend, who was there, what happened to her twin sister, what was their dad really like being some of the more tricky to answer.  
As the two sisters bond over the realisations they have more in common than they first imagined, the narrative weaves back to the weekend where it all went wrong for the Jackson family.  
Interestingly though, the story from the time of Coco’s disappearance is told by more than one character, there is narrative by Claire, Sean, Simone and Maria – who all play a huge part in the events leading up to the disappearance as well as the aftermath.  It gives a more rounded idea of what everyone was thinking around that time and how their views of events differed. 

There are so many things I could say about the plot of this book, there are so many twists to the story but it would give away too much for other readers and this is one book you really don’t want spoiled.  

The characters are well thought out, they are engaging and interesting, physical descriptions are detailed to a great level, even going so far as to describe how a teenage girl can be somehow horse like ‘clopping’ into a room.  The despair that Claire felt at the disappearance of her daughter was gripping to read, creating a shrine to her lost child and her OCD tendencies really emphasised her need to control the things she could to ensure the safety of her remaining child.  But also the dislike I felt towards Simone, she was a strange character and not the most likeable, for me this was a demonstration of Marwood’s skill as a writer, enough detail was given to make a decision about this character, but there were just too many little niggles about Simone for me to like her – she was “odd”.  

The ending of the book was definitely a shocker.  I had unknowingly guessed at a version of the ending but to then read it brought a moment of “oh my goodness, how could they?!”
Despite the ending leaving me momentarily lost for words it was superbly written and done in such a way that it did leave my mind reeling slightly.  When the conclusion of a book stays with you for a day or two afterwards you know it’s a good book and this is definitely right up there with the greats.

I was a little surprised that there didn’t seem to be much made of Sean’s death and funeral, his death was far from usual, but I suppose it did further emphasise the enigmatic nature of the character.  He was a habitual adulterer, despite having a wife that adored him (his fourth wife), he still entertained lovers and dabbled in illicit substances, and definitely not acting as a man in his 60s.  I had wondered if there were suspicious or sinister circumstances involved in his death, nothing was specifically mentioned but once you reach the final twist to the plot you might see why I thought this way.  


This is a cleverly written piece of fiction, Marwood builds suspense fantastically throughout, the claustrophobic nature of the story means you really don’t want to put it down, you need to find out what happened to Coco, you need to know who holds the darkest secret and see the desperate lengths they will go to to keep it hidden.   I really enjoyed this book, and will definitely be looking for more books from Alex Marwood in the future. 

I would have no hesitation to recommend this to fans of Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense and Crime genres.  

I would like to thank Little, Brown Book Group UK for the copy of this book in return for an honest review and if you would like to buy a copy, this book was published on 7th January 2016, a copy can be purchased here The Darkest Secret (UK Kindle Version).

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