Crime Fiction


Secrets in Sydney

Australian author, Liane Moriarty, has written seven internationally acclaimed novels, including The Husband's Secret...
Article text
How do you describe a work of crime fiction to others in a way that will pique their interest without giving away too much of the plot? That is the question, and I find it a very difficult one to answer and an even more difficult thing to do. Sitting in the meeting reporting back on my choices (or writing this) I find myself constantly pulling up and thinking: 'I can’t say that, too much information.' Or I think: 'They will never read this book. I sound boring'.

Some little time back we had decided to discuss books written by foreign authors (other than Scandi Noir, of which we had already done rather a lot). I chose to discuss the Australian Sydney based writer Liane Moriarty - a slight cheat, maybe, as she obviously writes in English about a country and society which in essence is rather similar to ours.

Anyway, I chose her because I like her books. They are always human and entertaining; they always contain a mystery, not necessarily a proper crime or even a murder; and they always also tackle a social issue, be it domestic abuse, hoarding, stalking etc. I have read them all and have the new one just out in my Christmas present letter to Santa.

The one I want to talk about is a slightly older one 'The Husband’s Secret'. This is an absorbing book about secrets, a death long in the past, a mother who can’t let go, another mother who faces an impossible dilemma, a husband who is deeply guilt ridden over an action years ago and the innocent children who pay the price. And then there are the others whose lives are touched, in some cases shredded, by the actions of these people.

Here is a synopsis which I found and to some extent paraphrased. And here my initial question comes in: How much to give away? I hope not too much but still enough to get you to search the library shelves or catalogue for it:

“Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia, an incredibly successful business woman and a model wife and mother, discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death. Curious, she opens it - and time stops.

John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia wants to do the right thing, but right for whom? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart and destroy her. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .”

Read it and see what you think.