The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood

Setting: Bournemouth, England
Genre: British Mystery
Publisher: Penguin
Release Date: August 30, 2016

I hated most everyone in The Darkest Secret. The characters in this novel are infuriating. Short of two, I didn't like the majority. It made it tough to read, yet I also couldn't look away.

Sean Jackson invited a number of friends to his lavish Bournemouth estate for his 50th birthday. The goal is to have one weekend of good times, with lots of drinking and even a bit of drug use. His daughters from his first marriage are present, not to his liking, but he doesn't want anything to spoil his weekend. And then one of his three-year-old twin daughters vanishes in the middle of the night.

Skip forward 12 years. Sean Jackson is dead and everyone who gathered at that party are back for his funeral. Mila Jackson, the younger of Sean's daughters from his first marriage, reluctantly agrees to escort Ruby, the other twin and her half-sister, to the funeral. Reuniting at the estate brings the past to light. Long hidden secrets threaten to come bursting to life and reveal the truth about Coco's disappearance.

I liked Mila. Her hatred for her father is very apparent. He deserved every second of it, both in the past and in the present. I liked Ruby, though her memories of that weekend are non-existent. Every other character in this book was incredibly unlikable, however. It made for very tough reading.

The mystery is puzzling. I thought I had it, but it turned out I was wrong. I did like that this mystery kept me guessing until the very end. The writing was excellent. I was drawn into Bournemouth and wanted to be on the beach, smelling the salty air, and feeling the cold water hit my toes. The setting is exquisite. Those characters though. I've never disliked so many characters at once, and that did make for very tough reading. I'll chalk this book up to loved some things, hated others, but couldn't put it down!


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