If ever a lesson were needed in the toxicity of lies, then this book is it! By turns, terrifying and deeply poignant, Little White Secrets reveals the malign butterfly effect of a not-so-little secret, and its far-reaching repercussions.
thriller | suspense
A daughter pushing the limits. A marriage ready to crack. A secret that can break them.
For Emily Rossi, life may not be perfect, but it’s pretty close. She has a great career, a house in the country, a solid marriage to Eric and two wonderful children – tennis superstar Daniel and quiet, sensitive Zara. But when her fourteen-year-old daughter brings home a toxic new best friend, Emily’s seemingly perfect family starts to spiral out of control.
Suddenly Zara is staying out late, taking drugs and keeping bad company. And just when Emily needs Eric to be an involved father, he seems too wrapped up with his job in London to care. What’s more, he’s started drinking again.
When a dark secret from the past emerges, Emily’s life is turned upside down. Struggling to protect the people she loves, can she save her damaged family? Doing so may mean keeping a secret of her own …
Author – Carol Mason | Published by Lake Union Publishing in May 2020 | 329 Pages (kindle)
Whilst Little White Secrets is undeniably an edge-of-the seat suspense novel, its real power lies in the author’s wonderfully astute and authentic social observations. Family dynamics, friendships, and romantic dalliances … all are held up to the spotlight and laid bare in the pages of this enjoyable thriller.
When we first meet the Rossi family we get the impression of harmony, success, and happiness. But, there are cracks below the surface; cracks the author draws out tantalisingly slowly; cracks that Emily Rossi is doing her utmost to smooth over; cracks that Eric Rossi’s secrecy has created.
The Rossi’s have two children; aspiring tennis ace Daniel, and his younger sister, Zara. Daniel has the confidence of a good-looking high-achiever, whilst Zara is withdrawn and self-conscious, and the early chapters of the book give the impression Zara lacks her parents’ attention. But that all changes when a seemingly chance doorstep encounter invites a new friend into Zara’s life; a friend who will break wide open all those cracks that Emily has worked so hard to hold together.
Emily Rossi is the main narrator of the story, although her husband Eric, pipes up every now and then with chapters that will make you question what she ever saw him. It’s quite clear that she’s carrying far more than her fair share of family responsibilities, but rather than inciting pity she remains a strong, likeable character throughout the book with a wonderful, dry sense of humour.
“I pull the casserole out of the oven and contemplate putting my head in there instead”
Eric, however, is everything Emily is not. Prone to self-pity and secrecy, he hides behind work and whisky when the repercussions of his actions and lies get too close for comfort. It would be all too easy to dislike Eric, but there is a vulnerability to him that prevents that; he is painfully aware of his own short-comings, but completely unable to address them in an adult way. So, when Zara goes off the rails (it’s always the quiet ones you have to watch out for), Emily’s best friend Charlotte, and enigmatic new neighbour Steve present the support that Eric is too self-absorbed to provide.
This is the first book I’ve read by Carol Mason, and I was struck by how well she recreates the nuanced, intimate conversations between mother and daughter; husband and wife; friends. The prose, and the well-structured intricacies of the story, powerfully wring-out some strong emotional reactions: fear, impotent rage and indignation, huge discomfort at the constant sense of intrusion, pity, and regret. Mother-daughter conversations and rows chime authentically, and the inevitable confrontation between Emily and Eric is poignant and extremely well choreographed.
Little White Secrets is a masterclass in the fragility of family relationships, overlaid by an intensely suspenseful thriller. All the characters were believable and likeable, even those we are lead … and mislead … to dislike. The story twists and distorts the further you read into it, and although the consequences of certain actions are heartbreaking, I admired the author’s resolve in not shying away from the devastating and ugly truths of some perfectly human mistakes.
My suspicion about Zara’s friend took shape quite early on, but the author was in no hurry to reach that particular crescendo. It was long and slow and drawn out, but that in no way slowed the pace or drama of the story as there were plenty of high-impact punches leading inexorably to a conclusion I didn’t see coming. This is a book I recommend whole-heartedly to readers who enjoy books that keep you on your toes, play with your emotions, and plonk you right in the centre of some awkwardly intimate situations.
Little White Secrets is available now from Amazon in paperback, kindle and audiobook formats.
Carol Mason is the Amazon Charts and Kindle #1 bestselling author of women’s commercial fiction. Her novels have been translated into more than 15 languages and are available all over the world.
Carol is from northern England where most of her novels are set. When not writing she likes to cook, travel to big cities or the ocean, walk her rescue dog, Henry, amuse her three-legged cat, Tria, watch boundless Netflix, and read inspiring fiction.