I read an advance copy of Twelve Secrets as part of Hachette’s Secret Readers project.
Ben Harper, a successful true crime journalist for a popular news website, is asked by his editor to write about his personal experiences, a job he’s initially adamant he won’t do. Ben’s brother, Nick, and a schoolfriend were murdered years ago by two girls they were at school with, and Ben’s mother was killed by a train years after the murders. It’s coming up for the tenth anniversary of his mother’s death, a death Ben has always had trouble believing to be a suicide, and he doesn’t want to rake over these personal tragedies for the sake of a story. It’s not long before events take over though, and Ben finds himself investigating as a new killing reveals things he didn’t know about his own family.
Twelve Secrets is based in a small town, and in the opening chapters we meet quite a few of its residents, each connected to the central story in ways that aren’t immediately apparent. This is one of those novels in which there are very few people who aren’t concealing something, so there are lots of bombshells throughout the story in addition to the mystery surrounding the two child murders and death of Ben’s mother. In fact, the book is divided into twelve sections, and I’m sure you could pin down a major secret in each of the sections, although I didn’t get caught up in doing this and just decided to let the story flow as I read it.
Twelve Secrets has the feel of a book that’s expected to do really well, and I couldn’t help but notice the number of glamorous locations in the book, including Ben’s newsroom workplace, the exclusive restaurant run by his friends Will and East, and the massive family home that’s the setting for a party. I wouldn’t be surprised to read that this novel was going to be made into a film or TV series at some point, and although things did get a little melodramatic for my tastes in the closing scenes, I can imagine this has just the right mixture of twists and turns, aspirational settings and truly terrible people for it to do rather well on the big or small screen.