Tag Archives: Alex Marwood

The Darkest Secret – Alex Marwood

5 Dec

As a fan of Alex Marwood’s previous two bestsellers (The Wicked Girls and The Killer Next Door),  I waited with a bit of trepidation for the proof copy of her latest ‘The Darkest Secret.’

It is a myth that musicians dread the ‘difficult second album,’  and the same can be said for authors.  It’s the third book that really proves if a novelist is here to stay.  So picking up my copy of The Darkest Secret, I turned the first page and held my breath.

The strap line on the cover states “They said Coco went missing in the night. They lied.” The story is set over two time frames 2004 and fifteen years later.  Identical twin Coco Jackson goes missing during her father’s fiftieth birthday party, set at the posh Sandbanks mansion her father is renovating.

Coco’s parents are not just rich, they are influential, as are the friends they are on holiday with.  The marriage is decidedly rocky and the secrets beneath the surface are about to crack.

Alex Marwood is the pseudonym of a respected print journalist and the press release states The Darkest Secret is a “ripped from the headlines novel.”  But I would argue that the genius of Marwood’s writing in both this and The Wicked Girls, is she doesn’t steal from the headlines she goes and peeks at what may be behind the headlines.  It is what the newspapers don’t and can’t ever say that Marwood wants to focus on and finds the most interesting.

The ripples from Coco’s disappearance continue through the years and fifteen years later the reader is taken to her father (Sean Jackson’s) funeral when many truths, half truths and secrets will be slowly revealed.   Marwood skillfully teases the reader and just when you think you have a handle on what happened on that fateful weekend in 2004, you have to turn the page to have all that you suspected turned on it’s head.

The characters that people The Darkest Secret are brilliantly drawn by Marwood, as in her first two books she shows great mastery at character  delineation. She never holds back from the small intricacies of humanity and human nature that make a thoroughly believable, if not always likeable protagonist.  Sometimes she can jar you with details that disturb and discomfort the reader but she never shies away from painting an incredibly vivid  and visceral picture.

The book starts immediately with witness statements and this is a great hook to get you instantly gripped.  No such thing as a difficult third novel for Alex Marwood.

Coming to ebook on 1st January 2016 and paperback on 30th June 2016.  The Darkest Secret is going to be her biggest seller so far and bound to cause some headlines of it’s own.

Everyone will be talking about The Darkest Secret, don’t get left out order now, five Stars!







The Killer Next Door – Alex Marwood Paperback June 19th – A Must Read

15 Jun

In the era of self-publishing and with the explosion in social media, the world is teeming with would be novelists.  One of the most popular genres, if not ‘the’ most popular for both writers and readers alike, is the crime thriller genre.  A successful novel can launch a lucrative and heady career.  So with all that competition to rise to the top of this particular very large shark pool you now have to be extremely good and Marwood is exactly that and then some.

Her debut novel the Wicked Girls first published in the UK in 2012 has caused quite a stir and recently picked up the Edgar Allan Poe Award in New York for best paperback original novel.  It is also up for an Anthony Award at Bouchercon in November and no other than Stephen King himself selected it as one of his picks in best novels of 2013 in Entertainment Weekly.

All this heady praise and plaudits would be daunting for any author when writing their second novel.  So in the Killer Next Door has Marwood managed to maintain the quality and readability of her first novel whilst giving us something new and gripping.  Yes she has and she has done it in spades.

The Killer Next Door is set in the cloying fetid heat of a present day London Summer and revolves around the residents of a large crumbling Victorian bedsit.  The sort of building most Londoners will see on an almost daily basis but pay no heed as they carry on with their daily lives.  Marwood stops and takes us inside and uncovers all the characters and lifts the lid on that crumbling facade to reveal their thoughts, predicaments and secrets and boy what secrets!

The genius of Marwood is the characters that people her book are so believable.  Marwood revels in showing us the very worst and the very best and at times the most revolting of human nature.  For every bit of this novel that shocks it will also have many a reader gasping with amusement.  Amusement that Marwood has dared to do what she has with the plot and the characters and dared to share with the reader every last action and every repellent thought.

Don’t for one minute think this book though is peopled with unlikeable folks.  Not a bit of it for every Roy Preece –  the morbidly obese stale sweat smelling greedy landlord, there is a Cher a captivatingly vibrant Liverpudlian teenager.  Or we have Vesta a resident at number twenty-three, who in her late sixties has outlived any hope of her dreams becoming a reality but still hasn’t relinquished that spark of hope and becomes a rock to the other residents.

Of course this is a Marwood thriller so the layers of duplicity and deceit are relentless and richly formed and will keep you turning that page right up until the very last one.

This is a perfect Summer read.  Forget the lightweight romances or the naval gazing self awareness novels.  By the time you reach the conclusion of the Killer Next Door you will have learned far more about life, humanity and resilience than you will from many another well meaning novel.  The Killer Next Door just soars.

I predict more awards and a stellar career.  It’s time to stop comparing Marwood to Ruth Rendell and others.  She is totally wonderfully just like Alex Marwood and all the better for it.