Dirty Little Secrets

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 12 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

First Jo Spain novel I’ve read and won’t be the last. Really enjoyed how she weaves the various neighbours strands together and creates a real sense of mistrust between members of the little community!
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this, my second read from Jo Spain. The story felt original and I loved the closed circle nature of the set-up - it was like a classic whodunit but with some adult themes and some very funny moments.

I also really liked the structure - hearing from all of the characters in turn, including the victim, and the flashbacks - hearing how Olive saw herself, versus seeing how she managed to alienate every single person around her. It was cleverly written and I hope to read more from Jo Spain.

Thank you to Quercus Books and NetGalley for the ARC of Dirty Little Secrets.
Was this review helpful?
Flipping brilliant!  A completely addictive read which will have your mind twisting and turning trying to work out whodunnit!  Thoroughly enjoyable and well recommended holiday read!
Was this review helpful?
A small enclosed neighbourhood, but there are hidden stories behind every door. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and did not feel sorry for Olive, who was dead for three months before she was discovered. By the end of the book anyone in the street could have killed her. She really was not a nice person. The ending was unexpected. Another novel by this author I thoroughly enjoyed.
Was this review helpful?
Hooked me from the first page, it is a typical who did it? Thriller, being one of my favourite genres I have read many and this was fantastic read. Just when you think you know who did it, there is a twist and you are left to try and piece it all together again. I know how detectives feel now lol.
The plot was great, very believable, something that could really happen in real life, the characters developed well throughout the book. Each chapter is told from a different neighbours POV. 
Who would have thought so many people would have secrets hidden?
I would definitely recommend it to fans of psychological thrillers. You will not be disappointed.
Was this review helpful?
“It’s the only way when you live in a cut-off community like this. Smile, make small talk, but keep your hedges high and your door closed.”

Ah yes. Keep those hedges high, but there are always back doors, and it seems some neighbours made good use of them. This is not a closed-room mystery, but it’s a closed community with a gate and not a lot of residents. 

The original resident was Olive, who lived in a small cottage on a nice piece of land. She was found dead, a good (or bad, if you were one of the first on the scene!) three months after she died. Natural causes, suicide, misadventure? Whatever the reason, she’s a disgusting, flyblown sight now, and the detectives heartily wish that someone had noticed her absence earlier. 

“Frank Brazil had never claimed to have a strong stomach. . . Even his partner Emma looked slightly less orange than normal, her naturally fair skin a few notches paler under the caked foundation cream.”

They pull themselves together and begin to investigate. A bit of background first. When the owner of the land decided to develop “Withered Vale” some years ago, Olive’s small cottage became #4 of 7 houses, the other 6 being the kind of large, impressive homes you’d expect to find in an exclusive community. (Its unfortunate name was the result of a farmer who foolishly poisoned all his crops when spraying pests with arsenic.) 

The author’s done a great job of differentiating the people and giving us their histories, so much so, that I found I seldom had to look back to remind myself who someone was or which child belonged to whom. Each chapter is introduced with the person or family’s name and house number. Full marks, Ms Spain, for that! 

Even Frank and Emma, the detective and his young partner, are fleshed out with back stories that explain their reactions to some of the secrets as they are revealed.

The author also describes well the awkwardness that we may all feel about some neighbours.

“. . . there was a shyness amongst the grown-ups of Withered Vale. In a domestic setting, out of the suits and offices, metres from their own private abodes, each of them felt an odd sense of discomfort, like they should be more relaxed than they were. Like they should know each other more than they did.”

Olive, as the first resident, usually initiated friendly contact and assumed a kind of ownership of the community. She, at least, was keen to know plenty about all of them. 

Of the seven homes, three belong to singles, Olive, George, and Ron. Two belong to couples with kids; one belongs to a single mother and daughter; and one belongs to an older couple with no kids. 

Each character gets a chance to tell us their own story, including Olive from beyond the grave. There is a point in each story where I found the foreshadowing a bit overdone. Every person lets us know there is something dark in their past . . . but then we move along to the next person’s chapter. And it's obvious Olive irritated them.

"‘She was an awful woman. You should be glad she’s dead.’

. . . ‘You can’t say things like that! When somebody dies . . .’ 

‘They’re still the same person. . . don’t look at me like that.’”

The detectives are quick to note the discomfort in each house. Frank mulls it over with Emma.

“‘They’re all lying about something. That I’m bloody sure of. But are we being too quick to rule out the possibility of somebody we haven’t encountered yet having it in for her and being in the house that afternoon?’”

Oh no! And just when I thought I was narrowing down the suspects! There were some parts that I thought might have been improved, but overall, it was fun. And, no, I didn’t narrow down the suspects correctly, but, in my defence, I will say only that I am in good company.

Thanks to NetGalley and Quercus books for an entertaining mystery!
Was this review helpful?
Really enjoyed this book, would highly recommend
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in return for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I was very keen to read “Dirty Little Secrets” by Jo Spain as I have never read anything by this author before, despite having heard about some of her work and thought I would take this opportunity to do just that. As someone who enjoys a great thriller, I’m always on the lookout for new authors, to me anyway, in this genre!

This fascinating psychological thriller takes the notion of a country manor house style mystery with a closed setting and therefore few potential perpetrators and moves it to a present-day Irish gated community. I felt, from a nostalgic point of view, that it was reminiscent of a Midsomer Murders scenario.

In the novel, there was no lack of possible motive such as perversion, intrigue or, of course, adultery. Jo Spain has written this novel with chapters alternating between each of the characters who are suspected of being involved in Olive’s passing, and of Olive herself who showed her true colours as the story continued. I absolutely delighted in this dark, conversational insight into living within a gated community. 

This is a fast-paced, well-written book with some very intriguing, though not particularly likeable characters that I would expect to find in a good thriller. I don't think I liked any of the characters at all, apart from the police double act, Frank and Emma and their humorous rapport, but that took nothing away from my enjoyment of reading “Dirty Little Secrets.”

It was easy to read with an absorbing plot that kept my interest throughout, with a fulfilling conclusion that I didn’t predict. It was a thoroughly entertaining novel and well worth reading. I enjoyed “Dirty Little Secrets” so much and I'm hoping to read Jo Spain’s ‘Inspector Tom Reynolds’ series soon. 

For me, this is a highly recommended and well deserved 2019 winner for Jo Spain!

Thanks to NetGalley, Quercus Books and the author, Jo Spain, for my free ARC of Dirty Little Secrets in exchange for an honest review.

[#NetGalley #DirtyLittleSecrets]
Was this review helpful?
This novel is set in an upmarket housing development and opens with the discovery of the body of Olive a longstanding resident. This is an intriguing novel where everybody including the children are suspects. I loved the elements of who could have done it rather than a traditional whodunnit. I simply couldn't put this book down. Brilliant standalone novel from Jo Spain. #Netgalley #DirtyLittleSecrets
Was this review helpful?
Brilliant loved the way this book was written didn’t guess the ending I thought I had but nope was really good read this very quickly would highly reccomed good little page turner
Was this review helpful?
Olive Collins lives out of town in a small house in a place called Withered Vale. One day, the land is sold to developers ; and although she can keep her house, she doesn't own the land, and so she becomes part of a small gated street with massive expensive homes.
Flash forward and Olive is found dead. Her rotting body has been in her home for around three months and none of the neighbours in this small street noticed she was missing.
One by one we follow life through rotating POVs of the neighbours, Olive, and the police detectives in charge of determining if she was murdered or took her own life.
Mostly I found this a really easy read and to begin with I was super curious about what happened to her. As we started moving to the end I found all the "big secrets" of the neighbours a little on the side of caricature and as the realism faded so did my interest in the mystery. I think the author possibly tried to put far too much into this book ; developing so many characters ; and then really rushed the end with a "6 months later" chapter.
All in all, it was a pretty good mystery, mostly a page turner, and I would recommend to people who want something they don't want to think about too much but do enjoy a mystery.
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you netgalley for this advanced copy. I really enjoyed this book. It's about a lady called olive who lives in a small gated community who ends up dead and her body is not discovered for 3 months. As the police go around questioning the small community it turns out all the neighbours are hiding secrets of there own, so just who did murder olive. As the two police detectives dig deeper frank and Emma it throws suspicion all around the neighbours. I have to say I really did get gripped by this story and did not see the ending coming at all. Really good read. Would definitely read more by this author.
Was this review helpful?
I heard great things about this book and I am sorry I tried so hard to get into this story but no I just thought it was very bland and just did not hold my interest at all but I stuck with it to the end, which i have to say i had figured out after the first few chapters......
Was this review helpful?
A different read for me as I am not too keen on books where the chapters are written by different characters, However, I thoroughly enjoyed it and so fitting for the book, and the characters. A great plot line with a fabulous twist. Not going to give too much away, but a definite must read.
Was this review helpful?
The mystery of Olive Collins death is the basis of this novel, she lived in a closed neighbourhood of 7 houses with 6 neighbours who all have secrets and reasons they may want her dead. I would describe this book as a mystery even though it's the motives of the neighbours that fill the story rather than the mystery of actually what happened to Olive. Each of the neighbours has a story to tell, whether it's something in their past they want to stay hidden or current indiscretions they would rather kept quiet. The book is well structured with each neighbour getting air time to tell their side of the story and Olive the voice from beyond the grave telling her side. Two pretty bland detectives investigating the death, pull the secrets from the unwilling to discover they are all guilty of having a motive.
I did enjoy this book, anyone who calls their child wolf makes for good fodder! It was very readable and the stories were mostly believable and worthy of hiding however, the ending did prove the only point of the story was to hear the secrets and not the death of Olive, a little disappointing.
Thanks to Netgalley and Quercus books for the ARC.
Was this review helpful?
Everyone has secrets but it seems someone in the gated community of Withered Vale knows them all, when Olivia Cole is murdered it seems that nobody missed the woman who lived amongst them.
When the police start to investigate it appears that her neighbours all have secrets that do not want revealing, but is the reason she was murdered ?

A very different novel from Jo Spain but just as riveting as her others
Was this review helpful?
What a brilliant concept for a book! The prologue manages to encapsulate the overall plot for the book and yet tell you nothing about why or how what happened came to pass.  The horror of realisation of what must be hidden behind Olive Collins' front door is related as her neighbour sees a huge cloud of bluebottles rising from the chimney.  The author then gives us a hint of what relationships were like between the residents of the prestigious Withered Vale gated community. The police are going to have their work cut out solving this case.

Frank Brazil is due to work this one last case before retirement, with the help of his colleague Emma. They work their way round each of the neighbours' properties interviewing everyone - even needing to ask the younger residents a few questions about their relationships with Olive and it soon becomes obvious that any one - or more - of the neighbours could have reason to assist in Olive's demise.  There are certainly some eye opening things going on behind the gates of Withered Vale, things which certain residents thought they had managed to keep concealed from their neighbours. But the curtains of the Vale have been twitching, and some things are not as secret as those involved would hope. Yet how come nobody noticed Olive's absence for 3 whole months?

The reader gets to follow not only the police interviews, but the conversations which happen between residents once the detectives have moved on. Interspersed with Olive's own take on the events leading up to her death we gradually build up a picture of what has been going on.  

All Olive wanted in life was to be part of a close, friendly little community but unfortunately she was not able to achieve this during  her time in the Vale. Maybe that would be her legacy to her neighbours once she had departed. But whose fault was it that she didn't quite fit in - hers or her neighbours? And did any of them have sufficient gripe with her to go as far as to end her life or was an outsider involved? I really had no idea 'whodunnit' virtually all the way through the whole book. 

Despite Withered Vale being a rather elite gated community I can't say I envied or particularly  liked any of its residents.  The detective duo are constantly given potential motives for murder at each of the properties they visit, only to reach a dead end each time. This is a very well written novel which reads very much like a game of Cluedo as evidence is presented, explored and added to the case file.  It will have you mulling over what you know and the questions you want answering right up to the end.  And the end will surprise you. Nothing which had gone before prepared me for the conclusion to the book which I felt reflected Olive's place in the community rather well.  On the one hand I felt a little sorry for her but I could also understand the viewpoint of her neighbours and their reluctance to be too involved with the spinster at number 4.. 

Certainly a book I would highly recommend. Read it - and please let me know if you worked it out any less than 90% through the book!
Was this review helpful?
Dirty little secrets – Jo Spain

This is my first Jo Spain novel and I can honestly say that it won’t be my last. 

If you’re looking for a gated community in rural Ireland to live in and it’s called Withered Vale or some other equally twee name, get back in your car and get outta there ASAP!! Inside this exclusive green community there are seven home s and one dead body, Olive. Collins Detectives Brazil and Childs are assigned her case and it doesn’t take long for their suspicions to be aroused. Well after they manage to rid the house of flies, maggots, mice and other creepy wee beasties. Here we have some rather gruesome details on the decomposition of her body.

It soon becomes apparent that inside these seemingly perfect homes with their equally perfect lives everyone has a different reaction to the shocking news that Olive was dead, not only dead but had sat in her chair three months and that nobody noticed that she had disappeared. In fact if it hadn’t been for the mass of blue bottles that flew out of the chimney she could still be sitting there such was the lack of interest her neighbours had in her. 

We hear from each person’s perspective why they didn’t notice or even care that they hadn’t seen Olive for approximately twelve weeks. It’s not long before we find out their own secrets addiction and adultery amongst other things, things that Olive made it her business to learn. 

The author takes us through the story at a galloping pace, snappy writing and leaving us hanging at the end of each chapter.  The characters flaws are dripped tantalisingly slowly in parts then bang it makes sense. I have to admit to feeling the urge to shake all of them at one point or the other in this book. Throughout the book I changed my mind who the culprit was and I did guess who but not until close to the end.

Read for an honest review.  Thank you Netgalley and Quercus Publishers
Was this review helpful?
What an absorbing read this was. Amazing that in the very small community of Withered Vale the body of Olive Collins sits decomposing for three months before she is found. That a single woman is not missed for so long by her neighbours does not give a very good impression of these people. DI Frank Brazil (looking forward to retirement) and Emma Child (keen to make her mark) lead the investigation into her death and soon find that anyone in the small development could have a reason to wish Olive dead. As we follow the relationships between each of the neighbours and Olive and with Olive herself commenting on what led to her demise we have a fascinating picture of each family's life and that things are not always what they seem. The back story of all the characters so well portrayed. I definitely recommend this book.
Many thanks to Netgalley/Jo Spain/Quercus Books for a digital copy of this title. All opinions expressed are my own.
Was this review helpful?
With thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the book in exchange for an honest review.
I have read The Confession by Jo Spain and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to reading Dirty Little Secrets. I found it an enthralling read and the way the author picked up on all the neighbours little secrets, for Olive to twist and use to make her neighbours uncomfortable, was extremely clever. It could really have been any small street anywhere  and would the dead neighbour have been left as long in the street or gated community where you live?
Highly recommended.
Was this review helpful?