Author: Jen Williams
Release date: June 8, 2021
Genre: Psychological thriller
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ARC kindly received in exchange for an honest review.
For fans of Kathleen Barber and Julia Heaberlin comes a chilling psychological suspense from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had a decades-long secret correspondence with a serial killer, begging the question: how well do we know our own family and even ourselves?
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.
What did I think of A Dark and Secret Place?
Feed your obsession with True Crime Documentaries and serial killers by burying yourself in A Dark and Secret Place! A dark, creepy thriller with a horrifying, twisty reveal!
How would you react if you found out your mother was a notorious serial killer’s pen pal? For years?
Heather returns to her family home after her mother’s, Colleen’s, suicide. Going through Colleen’s things, Heather finds a large stack of letters – written by the notorious Red Wolf, Michael Reave, a serial killer who decorated his victim’s bodies with flowers and removed their hearts.
As disturbing as this finding might be, it wouldn’t be so significant if it wasn’t for the fact that a Red Wolf copy-cat killer has recently emerged and already has a few victims under his belt.
Heather really wants to know why her mother was exchanging letters with a serial killer, like old friends. Also, although Heather isn’t working for a newspaper anymore, her journalist instinct tells her there could be a story there. So, working with the police, Heather goes in to talk to Michael Reave, hoping he can tell them about this new serial killer on the loose, and how he knew her mother.
As I was reading A Dark and Secret Place, let’s just say I was always looking forward to Heather’s chats with the Red Wolf. As a true crime junkie, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wished she could be a fly on the wall in an interrogation room with any notorious serial criminal, just to try and understand how they can be what they are.
I also enjoyed the chapters that were narrated by a young Michael Reave. His backstory was dark and twisted, just as I’d imagine a lot of serial killer’s would be, but he was still hard to sympathize with. In a way, the ending of the novel for the Red Wolf felt satisfying to me (I won’t spoil it).
As for twists and shocks, A Dark and Secret Place has quite a few! Many of which I saw coming, though the biggest ones I hadn’t even anticipated.