Book Club: Little Secrets

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Author: Anna Snoekstra
ISBN: 9781489242266
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Harlequin HQ
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Little Secrets is the second novel by Australian Anna Snoekstra and what an intriguing suspenseful tale she tells. I haven’t read her debut but after Little Secrets I am certainly interested in chasing up Only Daughter (one day when I have a little time).

There are many sub-plots woven through this story to keep the action moving and the suspense in place. You are left wondering how much is related because for one small town there is an awful lot going on.

Rose Blakey has lived her life in the small town of Colmstock but she is determined to make it out. She’s an aspiring journalist trying to get a cadetship and never quite making the grade, but she’s not going to give up. Her writing skills are what’s going to get her out of this town because she can’t pull beers at the pub forever, it won’t be enough for her. There are moments that she stops to wonder if settling down with a local and making a life would be easier but her dreams won’t be silenced.

Sleepy Colmstock isn’t quite so sleepy these days. There is an arsonist creating trouble and the latest fire left a young boy trapped in the local courthouse. The boy was a town favourite and the children are feeling his loss, in the wake of the tragedy a string of porcelain dolls start appearing on doorsteps across town. The dolls are precise replicas of the daughters living in the house, enough to create concern for parents and a lot more work for the police who are already struggling to solve the arson cases.

Colmstock is a small town where everyone knows everyone but it seems there is a lot to learn about the residents, and the arrival of a stranger that coincides with the appearance of the dolls seems a little too uncanny to be coincidence.

Rose recognises that there could be a way to use the drama unfolding in her small town to her advantage but the line between truth and good journalism gets a little blurred.

The action was pretty constant and I was left guessing throughout, there were a few pretty major surprises and some definite deplorable behaviour.

Regardless of how well you think you know your neighbours, that doesn’t mean that the threat is always from strangers. A twisted tale of threads that intersect in the unlikeliest of places means that I just can’t think how to effectively and thoroughly review this novel without spoilers.

The characters were well enough developed to get attached to but not explored to a depth that affected the suspense. You never quite knew anyone well enough to know what they were capable of, or what secrets they may be hiding. There were certainly some dark horses whose darkness was scary and though Rose blurred the lines in pursuit of a story I thought she redeemed herself.

The darkness in this story was disturbing. Little Secrets don’t seem so little when there is so much going on in your town and you can’t seem to find the source of the disturbances. Snippets of information are unearthed and completely taken out of context, or twisted to fit the facts and find a scapegoat.

A dark and disturbing tale that kept me up turning pages long after I should have been sleeping. Snoekstra is definitely an author I will be putting on my watch list.

Little Secrets is book #45 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

Available now from Harlequin, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

You can find Anna Snoekstra at her Website as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

Everyone is going to have a different take on this one I think and I will be interested to hear what our readers think.
Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Little Secrets so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.


18 thoughts on “Book Club: Little Secrets

  1. “Little Secrets” is an excellent crime thriller, with an ending that manages to surprise you and yet be far more grounded than many crime novels.

    In small town Colmstock, Rose Blakey is desperate to get out and make a life for herself somewhere else. To do that, she needs a job; and she’s set her heart on a journalistic career. When bad things happen in town – an arsonist becomes a murderer, and someone is terrifying parents by leaving dolls that look like their children on the doorstep – all Rose can see is a story that could create her future.

    The characterisations in the novel are sharp and accurate. Not many people in the novel are wholly likeable, but you’ll recognise both the good and bad impulses that motivate them, and feel like these are people you could meet tomorrow. This is one of the strengths of the novel – what they do and feel is understandable, at least up to a point. Snoekstra winds up showing us a part of human nature that I think most people would prefer to think they don’t harbour. And yet, it comes so easily to so many people…

    I was so caught up in characters and events that I didn’t spend a lot of time trying to work out the mystery. Those that do, may feel that not enough clues were planted early in the novel. You’re not really told enough to work it out. However, the denouement does feel “right”, and few readers would argue that it flows naturally out of the plot and setting.

    One flaw in the novel for me was a very small incident early in the novel, involving a deaf child, which I acknowledge had no real bearing on the plot or the events that followed. However, it was unrealistic and proved a small irritation that stayed with me throughout an otherwise excellent novel.

    I found this a quick read, partly because Snoekstra’s writing style is easy to absorb, and partly because it was an engrossing novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Recommended for fans of thrillers, but also for people who like strong characterisation and realistic plotting.

  2. Little Secrets was a good read. Could not put it down so finished it quickly. Have not read this author before so will be looking out for her books.
    Interesting story with a twist at the end.

  3. Thankyou Beautyandlace and Harlequinbooks for the opportunity to read such a ģreat story in ‘Little Secrets’ by Anna Snoekstra.
    Rose and Mia (her best friend from kindergarten days) live in Colmstock a small Australian town where heat and flies seem to be rife. Both work in Eamon’s Tavern Hotel, but Rose isn’t happy in the small town which is steadily declining. She wants to move to the city to pursue a career in journalism.
    Eamon’s is where the local police meet to relax after their days work. Frank is a senior sergeant and his partner a sergeant Bazza frequent Eamon’s and they are interested in Rose and Mia.

    The town has recently experienced a devastating fire burning down the Courthouse and affecting neighboring businesses and apparently claiming the life of a young boy.
    Shortly after this porcelain dolls start appearing at the doors of people with small daughters.
    Then there is the stranger, Will arriving in town and staying in Eamon’s. He’s acting suspiciously!

    What an amazing and gripping story, it will keep readers entralled from beginning to end. I read it in super quick time and am now anxious ro read ‘Only Daughter’ Anna’s first book.
    Read it, you won’t be disappointed!

  4. Little Secrets
    This very readable novel covers many interwoven aspects of modern life in a small Australian country town. It touches on domestic violence, police corruption, drugs and arson to name a few.
    We meet Rose an aspiring journalist, tending bar at a local hotel whilst she waits and hopes for her big break so she can escape the town.
    The author presents the locals as fearful of outsiders and united by gossip and the pub provides plenty of it.
    An arsonist sets fire to the court house which results in the death of a young boy. The town people are unnerved by this and the police seem unable to make any progress.
    Rose seizes on this to press her hope for a job on a city paper. She realises the media needs sensationalism to present their stores.
    Rose uses the fact that someone is leaving dolls bearing likeness to local little girls and embarks on risky misleading articles not realising the consequences of her actions.
    The author seems to be enticing readers to explore the possibilities of endings in their own imaginations as the story draws to it’s conclusion. Many storylines seem unfinished. The reader is left with the feeling that there are more stories to be explored

  5. Wow, what a ripper little read from Anna Snoekstra filled with mystery and intrigue. I really loved the characters encountered in this (previously) sleepy little small town, who are never really exactly who you think at first glance. A poignant exploration of how all actions have repercussions both anticipated and sometimes unexpected. And all topped off with a few major twists! Highly recommended.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for the chance to discover this little gem. I’m off to look up Snoekstra’s other novels now….!

  6. Thank you Beauty and Lace for letting me review this book, Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra.

    Set in the Australian regional town of Colmstock, the town is in strife. The town’s automotive industry has closed and many people have lost their jobs and people are suffering.

    Rose Blakey and her family which consists of her mother,stepfather and three younger siblings are included in that suffering. Her mother works at a poultry factory and her stepfather is a truck driver.

    Rose’s stepfather wants her to move out and she wants to also to move out to become a journalist.
    The town had a mystery fire that killed a young boy. More mysteriously someone is leaving porcelain dolls on the doorsteps of little girls that look exactly like them.

    Rose sets about investigating everyone in town, which includes Will the hotel’s only occupant. I enjoyed this book very much and would definitely recommend it to other readers.

  7. Little Secrets is written by Anna Snoekstra and the blurb describes the book as a town reeling in the wake of tragedy. The story is set in Colmstock, a town in Australia, where an arsonist burnt down a building recently and unfortunately a little boy was inside when it happened. After the fire occurs creepy little dolls who resemble the towns girls turn up on doorsteps. Rose who is wanting to look into being a journalist and who hates being stuck in a little town, starts looking into things as the police and the towns people are very scared.

    It took me a while to get into the story of Little Secrets, I can’t put my finger on why, but it wasn’t easy reading for me personally, I just couldn’t get into it fully as a “can’t put this down” read. However I liked the mixture of a criminal novel with mystery elements, though it did get a little too creepy for me at times, but I soldiered on and tried to read during the day only (I am a little bit of a wuss when it comes to creepy things like little dolls being left!).

    In the end, it was a good book overall. I felt things felt a little unfinished or weren’t told fully to my liking. However it had some good pace during the story and having that mystery unfold was always interesting. Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra.

  8. With temperatures steadily rising here in Australia, Australian novelist Anna Snoekstra of Only Daughter fame returns with her second work of fiction, a sizzling summer crime thriller titled, Little Secrets.

    The author of Little Secrets, Anna Snoekstra, was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly prize in 2017 for her debut thriller, Only Daughter. I was completely blown away by Snoekstra’s exciting thriller last year and it remains one of my favourite debut thriller offerings from an Australian writer. I soon jumped at the chance to read and review Snoekstra’s second novel, Little Secrets for Beauty and Lace based on my enjoyment of Snoekstra’s previous work.

    Little Secrets is a slight departure from Only Daughter. Whilst it is a thriller, I would best describe this novel as a solid piece of Australian small town fiction, with crime and mystery elements. The pace is less frantic than Only Daughter, it plods along much more gently, focussing its energies on creating a strong air of suspicion and paranoia. There were many times while I was reading this novel that I was reminded of the work of great Australian novelists such as Candice Fox and Jane Harper. Snoekstra’s writing falls easily into the same calibre of these respected female Australian writers.

    As much as this is a crime, mystery and thriller based story, Little Secrets places much emphasis on its characterisation. Combining this refined characterisation with a tight plot, makes Little Secrets a novel that stands out from the packed thriller genre crowd. Snoekstra devotes plenty of time in her second novel to exploring the intricate psyche of many of the troubled residents of Colmstock and this aspect of the novel held great appeal for me personally. A focus on long time residents and main protagonists Rose and Mia, shows us how Snoekstra is able to compile a well rendered character list. Rose and Mia were likable and they soon drew my sympathies. Underneath their outside veneer, Rose and Mia also have a set of imperfections that is explored well by Snoekstra.

    Snoekstra is adept at formulating a novel that completely encapsulates the experience of small town life. Through the main protagonist Rose and the residents of Colmstock, the reader is given a strong glimpse into life in a small town that has suffered financial ruin and loss. It is a town where the residents are in each other’s hip pockets but at the same time they have secrets that have concealed from their fellow townsfolk. This forms the central source of intrigue in the novel. Colmstock is also a town defined by instances of drug abuse, domestic violence, murder, corruption and arson. There is a pervading sense of hopelessness and many of the residents are clearly spiralling into a pit of despair. Even the local police seem to be struggling with what they have to work with, following the arson attack and the odd appearance of the porcelain dolls. As a result of all these circumstances, a strong sense of paranoia sets in. Snoekstra explores the scenario of a town under siege and a great deal of stress when fingers are pointed at one another. The final result and mystery of who committed the arson attacks, as well as who is responsible for the strange dolls had me reading this book intently until the close. The twisty ride I was taken on was quite explosive!

    I am now a firm fan of Anna Snoekstra’s work, courtesy of my experience of reading both her books. I look forward with great anticipation for her next release, which I have no doubt will be as astute and as compulsive as Little Secrets.

  9. Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra is an intriguing and suspenseful story that most mystery lovers will enjoy.

    This is the story of Rose Blakey who is desperate to escape her small town of Colmstock and her unhappy family, hopefully taking with her close friend Mia.

    Rose hopes to move to the city as a journalist if she can come up with the story of a lifetime which will break her into this career.

    Colmstock has its mysteries!

    After a deadly fire that killed a young boy, someone is leaving porcelain dolls on the doors of the little girls in the town – dolls that look exactly like them.

    Rose goes about investigating everyone in town and writing about it submitting it to a newspaper but the power of the pen causes more problems than Rose anticipated.

    I did enjoy reading this book. There was certainly a lot going on in this book that kept me wanting to read more although at times it was somewhat disturbing.

    It has an interesting group of characters in the story whom I personally found difficult to connect to.

    Little Secrets was a suspenseful story with town secrets and betrayals that many will enjoy.

  10. Little Secrets
    Anna Snoekstra
    A most enjoyable read! 3/5 Stars
    I was drawn to the book on the mystery write up, and quickly the suspense rises, without spoilers my mind was going through what is going to happen, and to which girl, young or old. The story twists, and the dolls are a mystery. The romance jogs along nicely, quietly, in the background, and there are plenty of ups and downs of emotion to keep you interested. I lost touch with the character a little in the middle, I did not believe her actions for some reason, and was shocked by some of the police actions. A great weekend away read or for travelling. Thanks!

  11. Thankyou Beauty &Lace,Harlequinbooks and Anna Snoekstra for the opportunity to read “Little Secrets” This was a very easy book to read and I throughly enjoy this authors writing style and would easily give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️review.
    Set in a small rural town where everybody was privy to all secrets,the main character Rose was bored and stifled by her job,family and mundane existence. Rose’s best friend Mia seems to always have Rose’s back but I feel Mia felt jealous of Rose and her ambition to leave the small town of Colmstock behind.
    As the secrets and the true personalities come to the surface one is left reading faster to try to find out who has set the whole town on tenterhooks waiting for the next frightening turn. The ending is a complete surprise, and I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read a good mystery.

  12. My copy of this book went missing so I had to wait quite some time before receiving a copy but boy oh boy was the wait worth it. I seriously enjoyed this book and with all the twists and turns it had me thinking that this book would make a fantastic tv mini series.

    Rose is not happy with her life and desperately wants out. Out of the town she lives in, out of her dead end job at the local pub and pretty much just out of her life and into a new and exciting one. She longs for a job as a reporter for a major newspaper and as each rejection comes she feels more and more desperate but her luck changes when dolls begin being left on doorsteps. The dolls have the same hair style and colouring as the little girls that live in each house and its believed that they are warnings from someone with a sinister intent. This gives Rose something of interest to write about which is exciting but when one of the dolls is delivered to her baby sister it hits a little close to home and she becomes desperate to solve the case..
    There are so many people in town with secrets and some are bigger secrets then others but each secret has an impact.
    As soon as you think you know whats happening there will be yet another twist and suddenly you are heading in a different direction. This is one of those books that you just wont want to put down. Perfect for quiet evening reading.

  13. I really enjoyed Little Secrets – mostly the second half because the first half was all about setting the scene. The intriguing ending had me going back through looking for the clues I missed which I loved (there’s nothing worse than predicting the ending early on in a story). I only wish the character and storyline of the police officer was expanded on more.

  14. Usually I steer clear of thrillers, however Anna Snoekstra’s Little Secrets has changed my mind. I thoroughly enjoyed how at the start of the book I thought it was going in one direction and then the storyline progressed through the development of the character of Rose.

    There is the exploration of the secrets that are hidden by the characters in a small town, and eventually unravel. This novel touches on the struggle of Rose to form her own identity and what she will do to reach her dream of being a journalist.

    I don’t want to give away too much, as the book does have small hints throughout that come together and you realize it was there all along.

    At the end, I found that many of the key storylines were cut short and concluded with a very brief explanation. I would have liked for there to be more detail at the start of the book to balance out the ending.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra.

  15. This is a fantastic Aussie book, it is a page turner! The Characters are described in a way that feels real , like i was there with them, going through the mystery too and desperation…
    Little Secrets is a story about a girl that has big goals and a small town that is going through a tough time. I felt the hopelessness and despair… It was dark, gritty and such a gripping read.

    thank you for allowing me to review xo

  16. Loved this book ….. Little Secrets is a fantastic book, I love reading books that have a twist and this definetely delivers.
    This is a who done it book, so a process of elimination keeps you thinking.

    This crime novel was a great read. Love to read more from Anna Snoekstra.

  17. An arsonist burns down the courthouse in a small Australian town, killing a young boy. An aspiring journalist searches for her first big story. After the fire, porcelain dolls are left on doorsteps, looking exactly like the daughters of the families in those homes. And soon, the town turns into chaos.

    This book was extremely disappointing. The plot sounded amazing, and even though I didn’t really enjoy Anna’s previous novel, the description of this one had me gripped. However, I found the story to be all over the place.

    At first, I didn’t mind some of the characters. However, as the story progressed, I found myself hating every single character. Nearly every conversation was littered with the word ‘fuck’, some even using the word in almost every line. It made me think that the author was desperate to reach a word count, and tried to make the book edgy, but it just left me feeling frustrated. Each character was also very quick to anger, and their personalities just dropped off through the novel.

    The end result of the story also left me frustrated. I felt like I had read a book about someone’s day, their very aggressive, cursive day. To be honest, I’m really surprised that in the end, it was almost like nothing had happened. It was a sloppy, kind of rushed ending, that I wouldn’t expect in a book.

    Overall, I don’t think I will ever pick up another novel by Anna. I was left angry, and bitterly disappointed that I had spent so much time on this book, only for it to be written in such a rushed, careless way with no real resolution.

  18. Thank you, Beauty & Lace and Harlequin for the chance to read ‘Little Secrets’ by Anna Snoekstra. This is a first read of this Author for me.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and can say with absolute certainty I will be chasing up Anna’s other book ‘Only Daughter’.

    This was another great Australian read. Set in a town, Colmstock, which is described as being like many outback country towns in Australia, so is easily relatable. Suspense and an ever-widening mystery have this country town in its grasp, as Rose has her sights set on writing a journalistic piece that will provide the way for her to leave Colmstock far behind. But the more Rose investigates, the deeper involved she becomes.

    If you like a good mystery, then you will love the story behind this. I had a couple of negative views on the book and these negative areas were actually parts of the story that really didn’t need to be there, the story would’ve been great without them. One area was the characters and their hate-filled psyches at one stage, so much hate. And the second, the constant swearing in the book towards the end. I don’t mind when it’s used in normal everyday speech but not when the foul language is used in every sentence almost – and I do swear too and am no prude, but this was overboard.

    I’d rate the book a 4 out of 5. I thought Anna’s writing style made for easy reading and the suspense kept the pages turning.

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