Bethan’s Book of the Month
Tell Me Your Secret by Dorothy Koomson
If you are someone who has read my last few book reviews, you must probably have guessed that I am a big Young Adult fiction fan. But today, I am reviewing a book from another of my favourite genres, Crime Fiction, Tell Me Your Secret, which is a murder mystery about a serial killer and a thirteen year old’s abduction.
Dorothy Koomson has published a great number of books in a variety of genres but typically in the genre of Contemporary and Adult Fiction. This was the first book of hers I have read and chose it because of the plot rather than an affinity for the author. However, having enjoyed it so much I feel as though I can trust Koomson’s writing and am likely to enjoy many more of her books in the future.
In line with the other books I have reviewed, this is diverse, ‘own voice’ literature. I think that one of the best ways, if not the best way, to diversify your bookshelf and repertoire is to read diverse books in a genre you are already familiar with and enjoy.
**Spoilers Ahead – CW: PTSD, racism, sexual abuse, murder**
The story follows Jody Foster, detective inspector, and Pieta Rowlings, journalist and survivor. It is in mostly an alternating structure with the chapters being in the first-person perspective of the two protagonists and just a couple of chapters towards the end from other important characters.
Although the book jumps in with the murder of a young woman found in Preston Park, Brighton, this develops further with her murder not being the central mystery of the book. They circle around each other for a number of chapters, nearly meeting and solving the mystery and discovering their pasts. This builds such suspense as you know as a reader that once they meet we would be so many steps closer to finding out what is happening!!
Pieta has PTSD from her experience with ‘The Blindfolder’ and has hidden herself for ten years with her son, Kobi. She is a very insightful and emotionally-capable person who is able to quickly judge the character of a person and understand their motivations. This is very important towards the end of the book where Jody and Pieta confront ‘The Blindfolder’. To stop her friend, Sazz, from being killed, Pieta talks down an unstable killer with a gun by psycho-analysing their life and their motives.
This final scene was genuinely a great twist! I spent the story thinking ex-school bully and misogynist, Ned Wellst was the perfect candidate for a serial rapist and killer. And I was honestly slightly disappointed when it was revealed to be the forgettable and irrelevant Ross. This was until the reveal that his sister, Callie, the victim suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, was in fact the true ‘mastermind’ behind the calculated and systematic killings and abductions.
Koomson wraps up in this last scene the theme of racism, which had been scattered throughout the book. There were a number of references to how the protagonists, two black women, were expected to act, especially in their professional lives. She acknowledges the stereotypes of being an ‘angry black woman’ when other less marginalised groups would be considered assertive or passionate. She also shows how when Jody was beginning her career, an older white man nicknamed her ‘PC Politically Correct’ due to her race and gender. In this final scene, it is discovered that Callie and her brother chose their victims, black women, due to considering them inferior and the enemy. This acknowledgement that black women are often at a higher risk is really important and helps the reader to understand the significance of the story to society and the author herself.
** End Of Spoilers **
My only two real complaints are that the name ‘The Blindfolder’ was not exactly striking fear into my heart. And the name Pieta and the weird pronunciation kept throwing me right out of the story as I would overthink it every time I read it.
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars