Hidden secrets are a mainstay of thrillers and mysteries. The things you don’t want anyone to know about you, the things that could destroy you if people found out: those are motives for all kinds of terrible behaviors. Let’s showcase a couple of new mysteries which turn on the questions of secrets, in different ways.
One of the most obvious problems with hidden secrets is that they can be the basis of blackmail, and that’s the heart of The Dark Room, by Jonathan Moore. Gavin Cain, a San Francisco homicide investigator, is yanked from the middle of an exhumation and brought back to the mayor’s office to investigate a potentially horrifying case of extortion against the city’s mayor. The unknown blackmailer has sent the mayor four incriminating and terrible pictures involving a young woman and what looks like rape, and has threatened to reveal more unless the mayor commits suicide himself. Racing against time, Cain has to find and stop the blackmailer, but he keeps running into the web of secrets with which the mayor surrounds himself.
What’s worse than having hidden secrets that other people want to keep secret? Not knowing what those secrets might be, and still being pursued for them. In Burning Bright, by Nick Petrie, an investigative journalist is on the run from people who tried to kidnap her days before. She thinks they’re looking for something that belonged to her mother, but her mother recently died in an accident and can’t help her. She needs time to figure out what’s going on, what her mother was up to and what she can do to keep herself safe from her unknown pursuers. She enlists the help of war veteran Peter Ash and their trail takes them to an eccentric recluse, a disturbing shadowy military organization, and a tool that might change the world as they know it.
Sometimes you run away from the secrets of your past but they still remain, waiting to pop up again and ruin your life. At least, that’s what Australian Federal Agent Aaron Falk experiences in Jane Harper’s debut novel* The Dry. Twenty years ago, Falk was accused of murder and his best friend Luke provided a steadfast alibi that prevented Falk from being prosecuted, but not from being treated with suspicion by most of the people in the town, who doubted the alibi and believed Falk guilty. Falk and his father fled the area, and Falk hoped never to have to return, but now Luke is dead, and Falk returns to the town for the funeral, discovering in the process that someone else knows that he and Luke lied all those years ago. Falk becomes involved in the investigation into Luke’s death, amidst the worst drought in a century, and long buried secrets, Falk’s and others’, surface. This book has gotten advance praise from David Baldacci, among others, so you know you’re in for a wild ride.
*Yes, this does qualify as a debut novel for those of us doing the 2017 Reading Challenge, just in case you’re wondering.