Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra

The Blurb On The Back:

”I am not sick.

I just like the little dolls …

I think I’ll break one soon.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. A tiny porcelain doll appearing on your doorstep. Bright blonde hair, rosy cheeks, even a little blue dress. A perfect replica of your six-year-old daughter.

Then anonymous letters from ‘The Doll Collector’ begin to arrive. And in the small town where everyone has their own little secrets, no one is safe from suspicion.

Because you can never really trust the people who live just along the street … 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

When 6-year-old sister, Laura Blakey returns home from school to find a porcelain doll outside the front door, she’s delighted because it looks exactly like her. Her older sister, Rose, however, calls the police when she discovers that Laura is the latest of a number of young girls to receive a doll.

As the police draw a blank on who is leaving the dolls, Rose realises that the story could be her ticket out of the small town of Colmstock and onto a big city newspaper. Knowing that Frank, the police sergeant heading up the investigation, is attracted to her, she seeks to manipulate him into keeping her informed about the case. But with Rose’s reports getting attention from The Sage newspaper, Frank finds himself under increasing pressure – both to capture the so-called Doll Collector an also to find out who was responsible for setting fire to the town’s courthouse, destroying the building and killing Ben Riley, the young son of the owners of the next door convenience store, which was also destroyed by the fire. So the last thing he needs is for the Doll Collector to start sending him notes, notes that indicate he’s got something more sinister in mind for Colmstock’s children …

Anna Snoekstra’s psychological thriller is a neatly constructed look at paranoia, secrets and lies in a small Australian town in economic decline that focuses on the ambitions and hopes of its cast of characters and the secrets they each keep, and although I felt that Rose’s storyline with Will (a rare visitor to Colmstock with secrets of his own) lacked a decent resolution, the novel kept me gripped from beginning to end.

I thought that Rose was a really well constructed character – ambitious driven and determined – she can’t understand why other people (especially her best friend Mia) want to stay or why they see her as behaving in a superior way. I enjoyed the ups and downs of her relationship with Frank, particularly how she understands how easy it would be to just let him date her and stay with him and I thought it formed an interesting counterpoint with Mia’s relationship with Frank’s sidekick Bazza and Rose’s relationship with Will, the mysterious stranger who she finds herself drawn to. However, Will isn’t as well developed a character as Frank and his storyline is left open ended, which I found frustrating (especially given that what’s drawn him to Colmstock should have been relatively easy to close out given how small the town is supposed to be). I was also unconvinced by the lack of media interest or pressure on the police brutality elements of the plot – given the evidence I would have thought that more would have been made of it, especially given the final events in the book. Howe

The various strands of the plot dovetail into each other neatly and Snoekstra expertly leaves her trail of clues to hint at the final truths. I was also impressed with her depiction of Colmstock and the impact that its economic decline has on its inhabitants as houses fall derelict and industry moves away, with many people falling prey to drugs.

All in all, my criticisms aside I thought this was a well written novel that held my attention all the way through and I would definitely check out Snoekstra’s previous novel.

LITTLE SECRETS was released in the United Kingdom on 2nd November 2017. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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