Kate’s Review: “All Her Little Secrets”

Book: “All Her Little Secrets” by Wanda M. Morris

Publishing Info: William Morrow, November 2021

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Book Description: Everyone has something to hide…

Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive—her white boss, Michael.

But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael… and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head. And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight—again.

But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace Michael. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.

When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined

Review: I have honestly been eying “All Her Little Secrets” by Wanda M. Morris since last November when it was about to come out. It made a few lists that I came across on social media, and while I wanted to add it to the pile I had a huge stack. By the time it came out I had left it on a mental hold list, and I didn’t seek it out until after the new year. It took a little bit for my hold to come in, and when it did I had a ‘oh yeah!’ moment. I sat down one day and started it, thinking that I would probably get through it in a few days time… And then I read it in two big sittings, basically being snared from the get go. “All Her Little Secrets” gets right down to business, and doesn’t let up until the last pages.

As someone who enjoys conspiracy thrillers if they don’t get too cloak and dagger or overly twisty, I thought that “All Her Little Secrets” executed all the twists and turns without getting too lost in the weeds. It felt like a pretty good progression as we follow Ellice, our protagonist who gets tangled in a dangerous web at her high powered corporation after her longtime boss and secret lover, Michael, is found dead in his office (by Ellice, actually, though she rushes out and doesn’t tell anybody, and it becomes very clear why). I enjoyed watching Ellice start to realize that a personal loss but professional boon, as she is almost immediately promoted to Michael’s position, is far more insidious than anticipated. But what makes it all the more sinister are the themes of racism and misogynoir that Morris weaves throughout the story, as Ellice isn’t just an unwitting pawn, she is an unwitting pawn who also has to deal with the very real racist corporate environment she has been working within. From the overtly racist interactions she has with coworkers to murkier microaggressions to just being the only Black person in her department, “All Her Little Secrets” finds intensity and dangerous outcomes in Ellice’s life even before it’s all turned upside down when Michael is killed. The themes fit into the story perfectly and make the conspiracy all the more ruinous and upsetting. I loved the mystery as it unfolded, and while I figured out a couple of things, for the most part there were lots of surprises and interesting plot twists.

I also really loved Ellice as our main character. The title and summary let the reader know that Ellice has a lot of secrets that she’s been keeping, from her relationship to her boss to some of the things she’s omitted from her life story to those around her. But finding out all of these secrets really gives us a good sense of who she is as a character, and it makes her very complex and someone who I found myself caring a lot about as the story kept speeding towards danger. We slowly learn some of the things she’s been hiding through the modern day narrative, as well as glimpses into her past, when she first took a step towards her big dream reality by leaving her small town behind to attend a prestigious private school… and therein leaving everyone who cared about her, and the guilt that has manifested because of it. The various struggles that made her want to escape are unfolded and devastating, and it all ties into how she has approached life as this story begins in the modern day. It just fits together so well. It’s an enjoyable character study as well as a taut conspiracy thriller.

“All Her Little Secrets” kept me reading and kept me guessing. If you like conspiracy thrillers this is one you definitely need to check out!

Rating 8: An intense conspiracy thriller with well thought out themes on race and corporate elitism, “All Her Little Secrets” will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Reader’s Advisory:

“All Her Little Secrets” is included on the Goodreads lists “Mystery/Thriller/Detective Books Featuring and Written by Black Women Part 1”, and “Great Noir and Noirish Novels Written by Women”.

Find “All Her Little Secrets” at your library using WorldCat, or at a local independent bookstore using IndieBound!

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