By: Anna Snoekstra
Publication Date: 10/17/2017
My Rating: 3.5 Stars What happens when ambition trumps the truth? A town reeling in the wake of tragedy. An arsonist is on the loose in Colmstock, Australia, most recently burning down the town's courthouse and killing a young boy who was trapped inside. An aspiring journalist desperate for a story.
The clock is ticking for Rose Blakey. With nothing but rejections from newspapers piling up, her job pulling beers for cops at the local tavern isn't nearly enough to cover rent. Rose needs a story—a big one.
Little dolls full of secrets. In the weeks after the courthouse fire, precise porcelain replicas of Colmstock's daughters begin turning up on doorsteps, terrifying parents and testing the limits of the town's already fractured police force.
Rose may have finally found her story. But as her articles gain traction and the boundaries of her investigation blur, Colmstock is seized by a seething paranoia. Soon, no one is safe from suspicion. And when Rose's attention turns to the mysterious stranger living in the rooms behind the tavern, neighbor turns on neighbor and the darkest side of self-preservation is revealed.
Anna Snoekstra returns following her dark and edgy debut, Only Daughter, with her second psychological suspense thriller, LITTLE SECRETS — an arsonist, a cop, porcelain dolls, a stranger, dark secrets, mystery, and a journalist are all part of a dying town. Rose Blakey is living in the small town of Colmstock, Australia. a small town. She is tired of the dead-end job at the Eamon’s Tavern Hotel and her dead-end life. After the car factory shut down the town had quickly lost its sense of purpose. Small enough to have a strong community, but big enough that you could walk down the street without recognizing every person you passed. Everything and everyone seemed broken and ugly. People were not friendly. Crime was up. People had meth habits. She wanted out. She is a journalist. The local paper had closed with all the setbacks. She was still on a list for a larger national paper. It had been a wealthy town with its grand buildings. Now cracked and weathered. The mines closed in the eighties. The newspaper closing, had been the worst for her. A boy had died. Ben Riley. He had been only thirteen and was brain damaged. He acted like a kid instead of a teen but everyone liked him. His parents owned the local grocery store. A fire at the courthouse. Bored teens or a psycho? Since the high school had been closed down, the crime was worse. Then there was Senior Sergent Frank Ghirardello. He was hot for Rose since she started working there. His partner Bazza was a good looking buy. Frank could picture them double dating. Mia, Rose’s friend with Bazza and he with Rose. She had written about everything including the search for the arsonist. Regardless of the topic, there were endless rejections. Rose wonders about the mysterious newcomer, Will. Then someone was leaving porcelain dolls on the doorsteps of houses. Plus the dolls looked like the little girls in the respective home. Creepy. If she does not get a good paying job, she will never escape this dark town. She was living on borrowed time. Most people in the town had given up, trying to escape. She would not give up on her dreams. She would write about the “Porcelain Terror in Colmstock." After all, everyone loved a good mystery. Is there a link to child molesters and pedophiles? There is also the mum, stepfather, and the younger siblings. If she could learn more about the fire and person behind the dolls, it would help her stories. Rose gets caught up in the stories. She may be making things worse. She needs to dramatize the stories for flair. The person who had left the dolls was marking his victims. Some monster had her sister. “Hack journalist wanting their piece of the pie, religious groups looking for a cause, children’s groups trying to find a new level of outrage, they were all here.” The entire town felt changed, paranoid and suspicious. It was her fault. Did the truth matter? . . . "People didn’t care about human life like she’d thoughts they did. People cared about purity, they cared when something unexpected happened, something that confirmed the deep-seated fears they already held. They wanted black and white, someone was good or someone was bad and nothing in between." If something didn’t sound good in a headline, it wasn’t news. From a bleak remote town pulled down by its economic misfortunes and crime, there is a sense of ongoing claustrophobic darkness infiltrating the town. Gloom and doom. A town of devastation. From police misconduct, an old mine, desperation, drug trafficking, as well as being overwhelmed by arson attacked and the highly publicized porcelain doll case. On an emotional level, there is betrayal, dark secrets, revenge, tension, domestic abuse, anger, rage, friendship, menace, evil, lust, unhappy families, and envy. A need to protect. A means of survival. Fear. Coverups. The author creates Rose, a complex woman who wants nothing more than to escape this Aussie town. She is desperate. However, how far will she go? Not a "feel good" kind of book; however, some intriguing twists and turns you do not see coming. Several of the characters had plans, with good intentions in the beginning, but their plans unravel and ignite a spark which spirals out of control. Creating havoc for many. The butterfly effect. The author does a good job of creating that “Noir” feeling and a sense of dark foreboding lurking with mystery, suspense, and tragedy — throughout the book. A lot of tug-and-pull between characters; at war, with one another and themselves. The characters are deeply flawed and everyone seems to wear a mask. A town full of little secrets and big lies. For those who enjoyed Big Little Lies and The Blackbird Season —in a rural darker Australian remote setting. A special thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy. I also purchased the audiobook, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld (love her accent) for an engaging listening experience.
“A smart and compulsive thriller that perfectly evokes the claustrophobia of small-town Australian life. I couldn’t put it down!”
-Graeme Simsion, New York Times Bestselling author of The Rose Project
‘I loved Little Secrets. It was the perfect blend of character, craft and country town quirk. Anna has such a knack for weaving tales that pull you in. The darkness in her writing is subtle and clever, but it definitely packs a punch.’
-Sarah Bailey, author of The Dark Lake
About the Author
Anna Snoekstra was born in Canberra, Australia to two civil servants. At the age of seventeen she decided to avoid a full time job and a steady wage to move to Melbourne and become a writer. She studied Creative Writing and Cinema at The University of Melbourne, followed by Screenwriting at RMIT University.
After finishing university, Anna wrote for independent films and fringe theatre, and directed music videos. During this time, she worked as a cheesemonger, a waitress, a christmas elf, a nanny, a receptionist, a cinema attendant and a film reviewer.
Anna now lives with her husband and tabby cat and works full time writing. Her non-fiction has appeared in The Guardian, Filmme Fatales and she is a regular contributor to Lindsay Online. Her first novel Only Daughter was released in 2016, and her second, Little Secrets, can now be pre-ordered here.