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Little Secrets

by Anna Snoekstra

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568343,969 (3)None
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.… (more)

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3.5 stars

Set in a slowly dying town in Australia, Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra is an intriguing mystery that begins with arson and quickly moves to the creepy porcelain dolls being left for the townspeople's children.

Rose Blakey's mom and stepfather are forcing her to move out of the family home and she is counting on a cadetship with a newspaper to help her realize her dream of becoming a journalist. In the meantime, her hometown of Colmstock is plagued by a series of fires and unfortunately, the latest fire claimed the life of thirteen year old Ben Riley.  When a porcelain doll is delivered to her home that bears an eerie resemblance to her younger sister Laura, Rose is shocked to discover a few other children have also received similar gifts.  In an order to jumpstart her journalist career, Rose writes a sensational story that is published by a tabloid. Under intense pressure, the police investigation fails to uncover any leads. Rose's subsequent articles ratchet up the town's fears but they lead to unintended consequences.

Rose and her best friend Mia are working dead end jobs at the local tavern. While Mia seems resigned to remaining in Colmstock and marrying a local, Rose is ambitious and cannot wait to leave the economically depressed town behind. Growing desperate following numerous rejections for her articles, she eagerly takes advantage of the uneasiness of the town's residents following young Ben's death and the deliveries of the frightening dolls. Rose also exploits the cops who visit the tavern to get insider information for her titillating articles. As events begin to spiral out of control, how far is Rose willing to go in her pursuit of her ambitions? How many people will suffer the consequences of her actions?

Little Secrets is a rather slow-moving novel and quite frankly, none of the characters, including Rose, are particularly likable.  The storyline is interesting and the town's decay, the townspeople's fears for their safety and their economic struggles are palpable. Despite the unlikable characters, the bleak setting and the story's slow pace, Anna Snoekstra brings the novel to a twist-filled conclusion that very neatly ties up all the various story arcs loose threads. ( )
  kbranfield | Feb 3, 2020 |
Three and a half star rating.
A small run down Australian town with an arsonist running loose and someone leaving dolls on the doorsteps where young girls live. Remind me never to visit, let alone live there as it seems to have far more than it’s fair share of weirdos and selfish, nasty people - so many in such a small place! Safe to say it’s very much on the creepy side. This story took quite a while to get going, so much so I almost gave up on it, but am glad I did persevere, to see that at least some of the characters got what they deserved. Very descriptive and you could almost feel the stickiness, the heat and paranoia coming through the pages. ( )
  boudicca123 | Feb 4, 2018 |
Anna Snoekstra has written a complex and riveting novel with a clearly manipulative and unlikeable protagonist.
Straight up Rose starts to manipulate the reader. I initially felt sorry for her but the more I read the more I learned that she was selfish and unscrupulous.

Set in a small country town where unemployment is high and drug use is on the increase you could feel the oppression. Rose’s only ambition is to become a journalist and leave Colmstock behind.

As in “Only Daughter” Snoekstra has again given us a whole load of messed up characters and in “Little Secrets” has placed them in a small town where they can do nothing expect destroy each other.

Many plot lines run through the novel and in a town where everyone has a secret to keep I couldn’t possibly guess the outcome with any of them.

I hated most of the characters, they made me angry, sad and disgusted. All emotions I think the author was trying to evoke.

Little Secrets was a great read! Full of surprises!

Content- Frequent coarse language F –word C-word
Sex scene
Graphic violence

I received a copy from the publisher via Netgalley. ( )
  Ronnie293 | Jan 17, 2018 |
In Little Secrets Anna Snoekstra shows the extremes that people will go to to leave any situation in which they feel limited, in this case a dying small town. It is easy to end up "disliking" every character in the novel but that is making things too black and white. If telling a lie or keeping a secret makes one unlikable then there is no one in the world who is likeable. So some degree of nuance and effort is needed to separate elementary categories such as like or dislike from a more empathy driven spectrum of more or less ethical acts done by people with strong desires. That said, on the level of whether I would "like" these characters if they were in my actual circle of acquaintances, probably not most of them but I would not "dislike" most of them, I would decide whether that person's weaknesses were more than I cared to deal with.

The mysteries in the novel (there are more than one though the plot is driven by one in particular) are interesting and compelling. The resolutions are made clear to the reader even when they do not actually become known to the characters. The solution to the main mystery elicits sadness as much as anything else while the others may spark anything from anger to disappointment (at or in one of the characters). While I was less sympathetic toward Rose by the end I was still pulling for her to succeed in the future. I did believe that she had learned from her mistakes and her experiences which is what one hopes for in a character. I am less sure some of the other characters learned or grew from their experiences.

I preferred Snoekstra's first novel, Only Daughter, to this one I still found this to be a good thoughtful read. I would recommend this to readers who like psychological suspense with the warning that it does not, during the first part of the book, move particularly fast. Just know that the slower part helps to set up the action that comes later.

Reviewed from a copy made available through Goodreads First Reads. ( )
  pomo58 | Jan 3, 2018 |
Little Secrets by Anna Snoekstra is a highly recommended thriller.

In Colmstock, Australia, an arsonist has recently burned down the courthouse, killing a young boy who was inside. Rose Blakey is an aspiring journalist in Colmstock who just needs an opportunity to escape from the small town and make a name for herself. She's been given an ultimatum to move out of the family home by her stepfather, but she has nowhere to go, unless she can somehow manage to get a job writing in the city. Currently she's working as a barmaid in a local tavern where the police hang out every night.

After the fire Rose learns from Frank, one of the police officers who hang out at the bar nightly and one who has a crush on her, that someone has begun leaving porcelain dolls on the doorsteps of homes where young girls live. The dolls all bear an eerie resemblance to the young girls who receive them. Rose's younger sister, five year old Laura, had received one of the dolls, so Rose contacts the police to turn it in, in hopes that they can find the creep who is doing this.

Then Rose begins to view the doll story as her ticket to escape Colmstock. She investigates and writes up a version of the story to sell to a tabloid, The Star, and she gets published. Now she needs to keep updating the story in hopes of finding a way out of the small town. An exactly who is the mysterious stranger who arrived in town and why is he there?

This is a compelling thriller that will hold your attention. Snoekstra keeps the tension and paranoia high in her characters and the atmosphere unsettled and ominous as Rose investigates. When suspicions run high and the community begins to turn against her and each other, the tone of the novel becomes dark. Soon it becomes apparent that everyone has an agenda and secrets. This is a desperate town full of desperate, suspicious people.

There really aren't any likeable characters here. You may think you like of dislike a character, but will then change your mind as events unfold. There were so many different directions that the story could have been taken that I was a little disappointed in the direction Snoekstra choose. I did like the resolution to the doll story, but there were other little comments made or actions taken in the narrative that could have made for a richer, deeper experience. Still, Little Secrets is a satisfying novel.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of MIRA Books.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2017/10/little-secrets.html ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Oct 25, 2017 |
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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.

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