LITTLE SECRETS - Anna Snoekstra
MIRA (Trade Paperback)
ISBN-13:  978-0-77833-109-4
October 2017
Mystery Suspense
Comstock, Australia - Present Day

In a dying Australian town, an arsonist has been wreaking havoc.  The latest incident:  a fire in the courthouse that killed simple-minded, thirteen year old Ben Riley.  The little town of Comstock is full of empty boarded-up buildings, and a score of houses for sale that no one is interested in buying.  Jobs are hard to come by, but aspiring journalist Rose Blakey has worked at Eamon's Tavern Hotel for years, serving beer and meals to mostly off-duty policemen.

One cop, Senior Sergeant Frank Ghirardello fantasizes himself in love with Rose, and even though he doesn't like beer, he's made a habit of having a cold one daily, just so he can watch Rose while she works.  At Eamon's, Frank can forget his troubles.  He carried the burden of finding the arsonist who's lighting fires all over town, and controlling the pesky Paper Plate kids, hooligans who walk around in the dead of night wearing masks made of paper plates.  And most recently, a new crime:  someone is leaving tiny porcelain dolls at the doorsteps of little girls, and each doll bears a surprising resemblance to the recipient.

Rose is happiest when she's writing.  She worked for a time during high school for the local newspaper, the  Comstock Echo.   She even tried to save the establishment when the town's economy forced it to close.  Now, Rose is waiting to hear about a job at one of the big newspapers in the city; she's on the list to be called, and she hopes it happens soon.  She must get a better job as soon as possible.  Her mother and step-father have given her only until the end of the month to move out of their house.  Rose grows more desperate day by day.

Mia Rezek has been Rose's best friend since kindergarten, and Mia also works at Eamon's pulling beers, serving, and cleaning.  Unlike Rose, Mia is content to stay here in Comstock, caring for her invalid father, a former cop.Almost every character inside the pages of LITTLE SECRETS is hiding something.  Rose is curious about a stranger in town, a man named Will Rai, who rents a room at Eamon's and claims he's visiting family in the area.  Soon, the suspense ratchets up when Rose's sister, Laura, receives a porcelain doll detailed in her likeness.  Inspired, Rose writes a story and emails it to a tabloid newspaper, embellishing the facts just a little.  While she waits for their reply, she begins to investigate Will, watching and following him as he sneaks around deserted buildings in town.

LITTLE SECRETS is home to a plethora of other characters, which include Jean, the manager at Eamon's, and other various townspeople and policeman, the homeless people they call the fossickers, and the Paper Plate gang.  This is not a happy story, the tale is rather dark and the suspense is palpable.  And as you become immersed inside the secrets of this little town, it's easy to suspect even the central characters of duplicity.  There is danger here, and possibly even murder, and the villain is hidden within the fold of the seemingly innocent and dying town called Comstock.

A great novel and a gripping psychological suspense, LITTLE SECRETS is a thrilling and complex tale that will keep you guessing until the very last page!

Diana Risso