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Thriller set in Wicklow

28th October 2019

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain, thriller set in Wicklow.

Thriller set in Wicklow

Fifty-three year old Olive Collins lives in the middle of nowhere. Soon a small development of several up market dwellings appear around her and she finds herself at the heart of a gated community. Welcome to Withered Vale which got its name from the activities of a farmer, who poisoned the land. It’s a truly terrible name and one can’t imagine people buying into the community. But they do and the word community is a misnomer as no-one really socialises.

Early in the book, Olive’s body is found. She has been dead in her home for 3 months and naturally her body is infused with maggots. It is not a pretty scene. No-one bothered to call on her or check whether she was ok. Why?

The chapters in the book are told from various characters’ perspectives. Olive, too, has a voice, speaking from the period before her death.

This is a microcosm of society where nothing is what it seems. Amongst the motley group of cast members is a sex addict, a couple of vegetarians who are perhaps not holier than thou, one person who is having two simultaneous affairs, a woman who is fleeing a coercive relationship, a couple who spend more time abroad than at home… it is a hotbed of secrets and lies. And all of them seem to have had a possible motive for killing Olive. She may have had a heart attack but maybe there is more to her death. As the detectives Frank and Emma prise open the lid of this nefarious little enclave, they have to negotiate the stories and lies and use their the detective noses to unravel the mystery of her death.

And there is dear old Olive, who tries so very hard to ingratiate herself into the lives of others but is forever being let down by her new friends. As the stories come out, the enmity she has garnered is quite something. Is she the innocent victim here or were her motives more sordid and self serving?

This is a good and gripping book. At first, meeting all the residents in Withered Vale can be a bit of a challenge, getting their names and stories straight – it’s a bit like meeting new people all at once at a cocktail party. However, the story soon sets into a chilling and well constructed narrative and had me hooked… with a good end. Recommended.

Tina for the TripFiction Team

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