A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams, 4 Stars

Have you ever read a book where you start the book in one place and end up in a completely different place? That’s what happens in A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams. And sometimes it doesn’t work. But this time, it works!

I just started listening to a new podcast. First I was on My Favorite Murder, then True Crime BullSh**, then Crime Junkies (which my sister said was really for true-crime beginners), and now The First Degree. One of the hosts is Billy Jenkins, who worked with Michele McNamara and helped finish her book, The Search for the Golden State Killer, after her untimely death. The whole true crime podcast world kinda seems like they are all connected somehow so that’s kind of fun too. I’ve tried podcasts that aren’t true crime, but I’m just not that into them. Am I a psycho? Maybe.

But, the reason I bring this up is because the story in A Dark and Secret Place reminds me a bit of the type of stories highlighted in The First Degree. It’s stories of people who were connected to a killer or crime, whether they were part of their family, a friend, or an almost victim. It just makes a story that much more interesting. Like how Ann Rule was friends with Ted Bundy BEFORE she became a true crime writer.

Just so interesting. I’ll explain more.

From the Publisher:

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.

My Review:

In A Dark and Secret Place, Heather is a woman who was recently fired from her job as a reporter, shares a messy apartment with roommates and has returned home to bury her mother. Who died from suicide. So yes, life is not amazing for Heather. But as she begins the horrible task of cleaning out her mom’s house, she comes across something interesting. Apparently, her mom had a very special pen pal – a serial killer. That she has been writing to for years.

It’s a shock to say the least. Heather saw her mom as the average mom, flaws and all. And to find out she had this secret relationship? Mind blowing. Heather tries to make sense of it and is suddenly thrown into the world of the Red Wolf, her mom’s friend, or lover, or what? She doesn’t know. And as she looks into the relationship, it appears there is also a copycat killer on the loose.

I don’t want to give much more away, but can you see how it starts in one depressing place and moves through that place to a deeply terrifying and strange place. But it’s good. It’s a book that will be satisfying to every true crime podcast enthusiast, Dateline addict, or Hannibal fan.

Special thanks to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for a free e-galley of A Dark and Secret Place in exchange for my honest review. This one is out June 8. Pre-order your copy:


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