Book: “Little Secrets” by Jennifer Hillier
Publishing Info: Minotaur Books, April 2020
Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley
Book Description: From the author of Jar of Hearts, a mother driven to the edge by the disappearance of her son learns her husband is having an affair with the woman who might have kidnapped him. Four hundred and eighty seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to steal Marin Machado’s four-year-old son.
Marin had the perfect life. Married to her college sweetheart, she owns a chain of upscale hair salons, and Derek runs his own company. They’re admired in their community and are a loving family. Up until the day Sebastian is taken. A year later, Marin is a shadow of herself. The FBI search has gone cold. The publicity has faded. She and her husband rarely speak. The only thing keeping her going is the unlikely chance that one day Sebastian reappears. She hires a P.I. to pick up where the police left off, but instead of finding him, she discovers that Derek is having an affair with a younger woman.
Kenzie Li is an artist and grad student—Instagram famous—and up to her eyeballs in debt. She knows Derek is married. She also knows he’s rich, and dating him comes with perks: help with bills, trips away, expensive gifts. He isn’t her first rich boyfriend, but she finds herself hoping he’ll be the last. She’s falling for him—and that was never part of the plan.
Discovery of the affair sparks Marin back to life. She’s lost her son; she’s not about to lose her husband, too. Kenzie is an enemy with a face, which means this is a problem Marin can fix. But as she sets a plan in motion, another revelation surfaces. Derek’s lover might know what happened to their son. And so might Derek.
Review: Thank you to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of this book!
When I picked up a Jennifer Hillier book for the first time, I was completely enthralled by it. “Jar of Hearts” sucked me in and fucked me up, and I knew right then and there that I needed to add Jennifer Hillier to my ‘must read’ list. So when I saw that she had a new book coming out called “Little Secrets”, I was pretty damn hyped. I was hoping we’d get another soapy thriller that was infused with a little more darkness than you might see from other books within the genre. After all, I kept thinking of “The Silence of the Lambs” while reading “Jar of Hearts”, and I wondered if something similar would happen with “Little Secrets”.
While “Little Secrets” didn’t quite rise to the level of “Jar of Hearts” in terms of darkness, it still managed to serve a twisted and well plotted mystery that really had me on my toes during my read. Hillier mostly focuses on the perspective of Marin Machado, a woman who is still reeling over the disappearance of her four year old son Sebastian. Her relationship with her husband Derek is almost nonexistent, and her life is a string of just trying to survive each day. I thought that Marin was a great protagonist for the genre she exists within. She’s incredibly damaged and makes pretty questionable decisions, but I thought that Hillier did a really good job of showing us how her trauma has changed her and why it makes her do what she does. Even when she considers going to really dark and terrible places, Hillier has laid enough groundwork that while you may not approve, you still have a lot of empathy for her. I really liked Marin. It’s not uncommon for me to get irritated with these ‘damaged women’ protagonists, but Marin never took me there.
But then there is another perspective that we get to see in this book, and it is that of Kenzie, the mistress that Derek has taken up with and the main focus of Marin’s ire. Kenzie, too, gets an in depth backstory with her own various moments of vulnerability and trauma. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like we got enough of it to make her truly sympathetic. I won’t go too much into detail with her, as she really is a cornerstone of the mystery at hand, but just know that I was solidly Team Marin. I don’t know if that was because Hillier wanted my sympathies in this place, or if she didn’t quite give Kenzie enough depth. Either way, she never really rose above the ‘perhaps conniving mistress or maybe not?’ trope.
The mystery, though, was great. Between the disappearance of Sebastian, Kenzie’s true intentions, and whether or not Marin is going to go fully to the dark side, we got a very intricate web of lies, jealousy, and deceit! You know that there are puzzle pieces laid out in the open, but you aren’t completely sure as to what they are. Red Herrings are present, but never overused, and by the time we got to the end of the story I was breathless and finally able to relax. The suspense builds at the perfect pace and I loved how it all came to a head. A well executed ending is always going to get props from me, as sometimes in this genre endings and plot points will overreach. Hillier never makes that mistake in this book.
Hillier is still one of the best thriller authors out there, and “Little Secrets” made certain of that. Cannot wait to see what she comes out with next!!
Rating 8: A twisty and suspenseful thriller about lies, jealousy, and trauma, “Little Lies” is another great read from Jennifer Hillier!
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