Review: A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams

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Synopsis from Goodreads

For readers of Jane Harper and Rachel Caine comes a chilling thriller from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had been secretly corresponding with a serial killer for decades.

When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother’s baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery–stacks and stacks of carefully preserved letters from notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The “Red Wolf,” as he was dubbed by the press, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn’t the only one to have cause to re-examine the murders. The body of a young woman has just been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did.

What did Heather’s mother know? Why did she kill herself? And with the monstrous Red Wolf safely locked inside a maximum security prison, who is stalking young women now? Teaming up with DI Ben Parker, Heather hopes to get some answers for herself and for the newest victims of this depraved murderer. Yet to do that, she must speak to Michael Reave herself, and expose herself to truths she may not be ready to face. Something dark is walking in the woods, and it knows her all too well.

A Dark and Secret Place publishes June 8, 2021

I received a copy of this title via NetGalley. It does not impact my review. 

I’m always on the lookout for a good serial killer book and I thought A Dark and Secret Place looked pretty intriguing. Unfortunately, I ultimately found it disappointing.

I thought the “Before” chapters about Michael’s early life were well done and compelling. I found Michael a sympathetic, if unsettling, character. Once Michael started to grow up, though, I didn’t find the Before chapters as well done. I wanted a lot more background information about the mysterious man that takes him in and the commune he starts. There is very little said about it’s purpose and motivations and it left me with a lot of questions. 

I struggled a lot with Heather’s character. She was so unlikable and barely anything she did made sense to me. I really felt like I had to suffer through the chapters from her point of view to get to the Before parts I enjoyed more. I also thought that as she investigated, everything fell into place just a little too easily for her. 

Overall, I found A Dark and Secret Place pretty disappointing. I really wanted to like it and was intrigued in the beginning, but the over the top turns the story took, how unlikable the main character was, and the unsatisfactory explanations in the end really let me down.

Overall Rating (out of 5): 2 Stars

7 thoughts on “Review: A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams

  1. The mention of Rachel Caine had me curious. I’m sorry this was more annoying than anything. It’s weird that she could do the past well, but then lost you in more current chapters.

  2. Pingback: April 2021 Recap | Stephanie's Book Reviews

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