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Wednesday 29 November 2023

Tell Me Your Secrets by Mel McGrath #TellMeYourSecrets @mcgrathmj @HQStories #BookReview


A devastating loss

When Meg and Marc lost their daughter, their family collapsed in on itself. Nobody could understand the trauma that they carried so it made sense when they turned to a therapist, Janette to help process their grief.

A new start

Desperate for some distance from their grief, they relocate to a small town where they know no one. They’re sure it’s a happy coincidence that Janette has moved there too, and at first it feels reassuring to have a friendly face nearby.

A past that won’t be silenced

But in those dark, desperate days after the accident, they shared everything with her. Secrets they haven’t even told each other. And it seems Janette doesn’t want to just be their therapist anymore. Or even their friend…

Dark, sharp and sinister, this novel will make you question those whom you trust most, and the final twist will shock you to your core.

Tell Me Your Secrets by Mel McGrath was published in hardback on 28 September 2023 by HQ. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

This is an intense and gripping psychological thriller that kept my attention during a five hour flight. The hours slipped by very quickly as I was consumed by this twisty tale that constantly throws up questions. 

I've read Mel McGrath in the past and she's an expert at dissecting her characters and exposing the frailties of the human mind.  This story features vulnerability and manipulation, teamed with an eerie setting with a tragedy at it's heart. 

Meg and Marc have suffered the worst pain that any parents can feel. Their young daughter Lily was killed in a hit and run accident, the driver of the car has never been found. Both Meg and Marc have dealt with the aftermath in different ways, they are both broken, but Meg carries such a sense of guilt about what happened, as she was with Lily at the time, and every mother should protect their child. 

A new start in a cottage in the country feels like it could be the answer. Marc's father has left Covert Cottage to him, and even though he feels that his sister Helen should have benefitted too, he and Meg decide to move in and renovate the property, hoping to pay Helen some money later on.  Marc continues to commute to work whilst Meg stays at home in the cottage. She does her best to get to know the people in the local community, but there's certainly something a little odd about the place. The house feels as though it's alive too. Meg experiences noises and strange feelings, especially from the loft area. When she bumps into Janette in the village, she is delighted to see someone that she knows, and who knows everything about her. Janette was their therapist, both she and Marc had regular sessions with her after Lily's death. Janette is looking for somewhere to stay, and it seems obvious that Meg should offer her their little garden room.

What follows is a sinister, creepy tale that gave me goosebumps at times. Meg and Marc really do suffer over the coming weeks, but thank goodness for Janette; a listening ear, someone to give advice ...... but what does Janette get out of this?

The reader sees far more than either Meg or Marc do, and at times, it feels so obvious what is happening, but I was never quite sure why it was happening. Both Meg and Marc become dependant on a woman who uses her professional skills to manipulate them both, almost pitching them against each other. Yet Marc and Meg don't tell each other, they don't feel able to open up and discuss what is happening. Meg is terrified of being labelled as mentally ill, and Marc seems to just flounder around, not really having any idea what is happening. 

It's a long and quite complex story, but it's also a clever and tense look at how a tragedy can shape people, how long-time grudges and events can manifest themselves years later, creating chaos and unhappiness for all. 

Tell Me Your Secrets is chilling and unsettling. The characters can appear naive at times, but this makes them appear human and more realistic. A study in grief, trauma and also a great thriller. Recommended.

Mel McGrath is an Essex girl, co-founder of Killer Women, and an award-winning writer
of fiction and non-fiction. 
As MJ McGrath she writes the acclaimed Edie Kiglatuk series of Arctic mysteries. 
As Melanie McGrath she wrote the critically acclaimed, bestselling memoir Silvertown. 
As Mel McGrath she is the author of the bestselling psychological thrillers Give Me the Child, The Guilty Party and Two Wrongs.

Twitter / X @mcgrathmj

Instagram @mcgrathmelj

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