The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

Review by Kylie Thompson

 

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Crime, thriller

Publisher: Hachette

 

To Agatha, Meghan Shaughnessy’s life is perfect. Great job, loving family, adorable kids, supportive friends- who could possibly ask for more? But everyone has secrets, and every relationship has its flaws. Meghan and Agatha both have secrets to protect, and both are more than willing to risk it all to keep the truth from being discovered. But with their worlds, and their lies, on a collision course, can they keep their carefully curated lives from imploding?

The mark of a good novel is an inability to stop reading long enough to do the housework. The mark of a great novel is an inability to stop reading long enough to eat or sleep. When you start holding off on bathroom breaks, it’s a safe bet you’ve stumbled upon an amazing story.

This? This is an amazing story.

It’s not exactly a secret that Michael Robotham is damned good at what he does, yet there’s something about his latest novel, ‘The Secrets She Keeps’ that feels like he’s somehow found a way to transcend his earlier efforts. It’s darkly compelling, visceral in its scope and its horror; the sort of book it’s impossible to walk away from.

It feels far too real, real enough to make the skin crawl and the adrenaline surge.

There are some male authors that, let’s be honest, struggle to write female characters (and let’s be clear: the reverse is also very true). If you’ve ever wanted to see women written flawlessly by a man, this is the book to reach for. Robotham’s female characters are dynamic and complex; the sort of powerful personalities you can’t bring yourself to look away from. Both of the leads feel real, viscerally so, and it’s impossible not to be swept up in their emotions, and especially their desperation.

The beauty here is that there’s no perfect heroine or utterly virtuous character, all doe-eyed innocence waiting to be rescued. Robotham doesn’t write angels and sinners, preferring to rip away the black and white mentality to explore the shades of grey left in its wake. It’s confronting, compelling, emotionally eviscerating reading.

It’s easy in crime writing to just write the unknowable, insane villain- the giggling psychopath you’ll never be able to relate to or understand. But the staggering, heart-breaking beauty of Robotham’s work is his determination to make his antagonists not just sympathetic, but in certain ways, painfully relatable. In Robotham’s written universe, evil isn’t a lifestyle choice so much as a chain of events turning good people towards illegal, dangerous, or cruel acts. If you’re a fan of emotional distance from the villains of the piece, his work might not be your cup of tea. But if you’ve ever wondered what makes a criminal, Robotham’s work should be at the top of your TBR pile.

‘The Secrets She Keeps’ is a tense, edge of your seat affair, the sort of book to have you gasping through your reading, and staring, shocked to stupor, at the final pages. If you’ve got kids, it’s a safe bet you’re going to hug the living daylights out of them after reading this novel. ‘The Secrets She Keeps’ is certainly a poor choice of baby shower gifts, and new parents or those expecting might want to give it a miss for a while. But if you like your thrillers with a side order of sleepless nights, you’re going to want to read this ASAP.

‘The Secrets She Keeps’ is published by Hachette, and is available where all good books are sold.

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