Judith D Collins
By: Jennifer Hillier
Publication Date: 04/21/2020
My Rating: 5 Stars +++ Top Books of 2020 Q&A with Author
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.
Two hundred and forty 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.
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"[A] diabolically plotted psychological thriller of lust, obsession, greed, and betrayal...a captivating double helix of duplicity." ―Publishers Weekly
"This book belongs at the top of your must-read list." ―Suspense Magazine
"A fast-paced, gorgeously written novel with genuine heart and a lot of emotion."
"Little Secrets will leave readers completely floored. You don't just read this book; you inhale it." ―Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl and The Other Mrs.
"Suspenseful and compelling―Hillier is a masterful storyteller."
―Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Never Let You Go
“Little Secrets starts with every parent’s nightmare―the disappearance of a child in a crowded store. If that sounds like tough stuff, trust me, you want to keep reading. Better yet, trust Jennifer Hillier, a rising star in crime fiction whose work is like no one else’s. That gut-punch of an opener jumps to a twisty tale of trauma and grief and revenge, with extraordinary empathy for everyone involved.”
―Laura Lippman, New York Times bestselling author of Lady in the Lake
"Unflinching and unforgettable. Little Secrets has everything you want in a thriller―complex characters, heart-pounding suspense, and a stunning conclusion. Jennifer Hillier is one of my favorite writers, and this is her best book yet."
―Riley Sager, New York Times bestselling author of Lock Every Door
“You will be obsessed with this unputdownable read. Razor-sharp writing, believable characters, emotional depth―this is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Absolutely loved it!”
―Liv Constantine, international bestselling author of The Last Mrs. Parrrish
“Little Secrets is a powerful, enthralling thriller that had me looking forward to the end of each day I could spend with these intriguing characters and Jennifer Hillier’s riveting storytelling. Prepare yourself for a terrific read.
―Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author of The Little Sister
"Jennifer Hillier is a powerhouse of the thriller genre. Little Secrets is sophisticated, compelling, gut-wrenching, stunning, and absolutely magnificent. If you only read one book in 2020, make sure it's this one."
―Lisa Regan, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author
"An exceptional thriller that turns up the heat with every flip of the page. Jennifer Hillier has created characters so real you'll feel like you're a member of their dark and twisted world. Little Secrets is one of the best books you'll read in 2020."
―Matthew Farrell, bestselling author of What Have You Done
"Once I picked Little Secrets up, I couldn't put it down. It's crackling with suspense, bursting with characters I cared about and has one of the most satisfying endings I've ever read." ―Jess Lourey, bestselling author of Unspeakable Things
The fabulous award-winning thriller "queen" and master storyteller returns following her smashing hit, Jar of Hearts, Winner—Best Novel, 2019 ITW Thriller Award (and you may ask, "how she could possibly top it")?
Well, my book friends, she is Jennifer Hillier!
Yes, she does. LITTLE SECRETS is totally addictive and enthralling! Starting from the striking front cover to every thrilling page. One of my favorite books of hers thus far— once again landing on my Top Books of 2020. I have read all her books, and you can find my review links below. No one does twisty plot-driven and character-driven thrillers, better.
"All it takes to unravel a life is one little secret..." Indeed, these secrets turn into dangerous life-threatening massive secrets!
LITTLE SECRETS is an addictive psychological domestic suspense thriller that is a bit of a square or rectangle, versus a triangle with four main characters:
Marin— the wife and mother. Derek— the husband and father. Sal— Marin’s best friend (bad boy) McKenzie— the mistress,barista, art grad student who is obsessed with social media. Sebastian —Marin and Derek’s four-year-old toddler son who is in the center of this square.
Set in Seattle (one of my favorite cities) in Pike Place Market, it is December and the busy Christmas season.
Marian owns hi-end hair salons and caters to celebrities and the wealthy. Derek is a successful business owner as well, and they are quite the power couple. The cars, homes, clothes, friends, and prestige. They have it all and a beautiful son after many rounds of IVF.
Marian is doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, choosing just the right gifts for her staff, and Sebastian is getting impatient, wanting a promised lollipop. She tells him, "five more minutes." Something we all have done.
Then coming down the escalator, she receives several texts, one from her husband whom they will be meeting shortly, and one from her best bud and childhood friend, Sal. She is distracted.
Marin lets go of her son's hand for one minute to type a reply, and in the blink of an eye, he has vanished. Where could her precious little boy have gone in his cute little reindeer sweater?
She panics— she must find her son. She knows the statistics. The longer it is before he is found, the fewer chances she will every find him alive. Did he get lost, or did someone take him? How could this have happened?
The security footage shows someone dressed in a Santa Claus suit has taken his hand. In the other hand is the lollipop. The same one from the expensive candy store, she had planned to take him to.
That is all it took to steal a child. Four minutes. A lollipop, a Santa suit, and two hundred forty seconds.
Sixteen months later, nothing.
The FBI has not found her son. They have all but given up. Too much time has passed and all the leads go cold. Marian will never give up!
She hires a PI. She is barely functioning. Her grief, her guilt, she wants her son back. She cannot even think about all the bad things that her son is experiencing, through or if he is still alive. Her mind goes to dark places. She has even attempted suicide. Her relationship with her husband has deteriorated. She is a shell of her former self.
She decides to attend a group with like-minded parents. An interesting group of secondary characters.
Now the PI has some new information. However, it is not about her son. She never told Derek she had hired a PI. The news: Her husband is having an affair with a stupid little twenty-something pink hair graduate student!
Marin turns her grief into rage. She wants revenge. She has lost her son and she will not lose her husband too! Rage and anger take over.
Marian carries things too far and starts talking murder for hire. She will pay. e will not let her husband of nearly twenty years get by with having sex with a younger woman. Sal, a former ex-con and bar owner knows people.
However, the plot thickens. What are Sal, Derek, and his mistress keeping from her?
Everyone has secrets. Those secrets may just lead her to her son and who took him and where he has been? Will she reach him in time? What is the motive?
Lies, secrets, greed, betrayal!. When love turns to hate and things get messy. You will be turning the pages as fast as you can to the explosive ending. I devoured LITTLE SECRETS!
This riveting thriller is fast-paced, modern, chic, sexy, twisty, and unpredictable! Immersing —intricately plotted and smartly written, Jennifer is at the "top of her game."
What really makes this a stand-out novel, is Hillier's ability to get inside Marian's head. She experiences all sorts of emotions. As a reader, you are drawn into this web of deceit. She delves deep into the mindset of Marian after her son was taken. We feel her intense pain from the array of emotions of guilt, loss, revenge, and her downward spiral.
In LITTLE SECRETS, the author explores highly charged topics. Kidnapping, marriage, infidelity, friendship, motherhood, obsession, love, desperation, suicide, betrayal, grief, revenge, tragedy, and much more. Each of these involves secrets that spiral out of control.
BTW: the “Louboutin’s-twist” was priceless!
Stay tuned for my Q&A Elevator Ride with Jennifer coming April 21, 2020! We will go behind the scenes of LITTLE SECRETS and this acclaimed author. It is going to be fantastic. Move this one to the top of your list. I will also be hosting an upcoming Mother's Day Book giveaway contest.
A special thank you to Minotaur Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. In addition, pre-ordered the hardcover and the audiobook.
THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK TOP BOOKS OF 2022
LITTLE SECRETS TOP BOOKS OF 2020
JAR OF HEARTS TOP BOOKS OF 2018
FREAK (2012) before blog
CREEP (2011) before blog
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About the Author
Hi there, I’m Jennifer Hillier. I write about dark, twisted people who do dark, twisted things. My newest psychological thriller, Jar of Hearts, is now available from Minotaur Books. I’m also the author of Creep, Freak, The Butcher, and Wonderland, which were published by Gallery Books and are available now.
I was in born in Toronto, but I spent eight years in the Seattle area, which is where all my novels are set. I’m a Seahawks fan but I married a Packers guy. We have a young son who looks most like me when he’s crying. My favorite author is Stephen King (but whose isn’t?). I’m afraid of the dark and can’t sleep unless I’ve checked the locks on the doors several times. I love writing when it’s raining, sleeping when it’s sunny, and reading after everyone else has gone to bed. I cherish my family (those who read, and those who don’t), and my friends (those who write, and those who don’t).
I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Crime Writers of Canada. I’m also a regular columnist at The Thrill Begins, where I talk a lot about my writing journey and dispense advice you may or may not find helpful.
You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but hopefully not every day. Read More