The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

Oh my goodness, ‘The Darkest Secret’ by Alex Marwood is full of the sort of characters that you would hope never to meet in real life. Empathy? Yes. Compassion? Yes. Sympathy? Yes. They created all these feelings in me at some point or other as the reader; but, bar two, I don’t think there was a single character I would have liked to have called my friend. The only two were Ruby and Mila (Milly), half sisters and victims of circumstance, caught up in a nasty mess of secrets created and continued by all those people that they should have been able to trust.

I must admit I nearly gave up on this book until about 20-30% in, as I found the character and scene changes all a little confusing, and being full of such dislikeable characters I wasn’t sure I wanted to bother to continue reading. However, I read a couple of reviews and decided to persevere; I’m glad I did!

Sean Jackson has died, leaving behind a wide and varied selection of wives, children – oh yes, and friends! Or are they fellow conspirators? What becomes clear as the story progresses is that what began as friendship has become a forced complicity where nobody is quite sure who they trust. At the beginning of the story, Coco Jackson, Sean’s youngest twin daughter aged 3 has gone missing, believed abducted, under mysterious circumstances following a celebratory party with friends, full of privilege and excess, at his superior home in Sandbanks, Poole. Years later Sean Jackson has died and his original daughter Mila from his first wife, attends the funeral with the remaining twin Ruby, now a teenager. Told from a dual perspective separated by at least a decade, the events of that fateful night unfold – and yet even the end leaves an unpleasant taste in one’s mouth as the lies persist….and are simply added to for maintenance purposes.

‘The Darkest Secret’ is a fascinating study of human nature and what drives it. It took a while, but once hooked, I read without interruption to the end.

I give this book 3 stars.

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