Thriller: The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood
Little Brown €9.99
Only an experienced London hack could characterise the bi-locaters between Mayfair and the Shires so viscerally. Intuitive observations of gym-fit mistresses, counter-culture trustafarians, narcissistic husbands and grabby ex-wives combine to deliver a riveting read. Former journalist Serena Mackesy is Alex Marwood the killer thriller writer.
Marwood's third novel, The Darkest Secret, centres on the disappearance of three-year-old Coco Jackson after her father's 50th birthday party. A PR guru at the party sparks a media frenzy with her email reaching a billion people around the world. That all happened over a cocaine-champagne-infused weekend in 2004, a sleaze-fest replete with hidden teenage agendas, a Tory buffoon, a dubious doctor and colourfully named kids, Tiggy, Inigo, Ruby, Joaquin, Camila and India.
Chapters alternate between Coco's disappearance and a weekend 10 years later when her millionaire father dies in compromising circumstances in a hotel.
It is 2014 and Marwood's observations of the changes in Little England in that decade are prescient.
Various strands of his blended family, hounded by media, convene at his fourth wife's house for the funeral - where the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed.
Rarely have I found a book so unputdownable. At times it is like a collection of short stories, written with an incisive comprehension of human nature and parents' frailties.
It is not surprising that Marwood's first novel, The Wicked Girls, was included in Stephen King's Ten Best Books of the Year list. Her second, The Killer Next Door won the Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel in 2015.
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