Every Last Secret, by A. R. Torre

Eight stars

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

https://www.mysteryandsuspense.com/review-every-last-secret/

Always eager for a chilling story about power and deception, I was pulled into the middle of A. R. Torre’s latest novel, Every Last Secret. It definitely has all the elements to keep the reader enthralled, with just enough darkness to provide needed twists for a complex plot. Torre is sure to lure many in with her writing, as she did for me throughout!

Cat Winthorpe has not rested on her laurels for all these years. Her home is immaculate and she’s been able to make a name for herself, alongside a productive and successful husband, William. When the Ryders purchase the home next door, Cat cannot help but greet them with open arms, hoping that her neighbours will be just as driven. Little does Cat know what awaits her.

Neena Ryder does not fit the Winthorpe mold, but does not care all that much. She’s been hired by William Winthorpe and has a job to do, but her skills as a life coach are the least of her concerns. Her husband, Matt, has come to bore her and Neena seeks a new challenge. The move was her way of inching in the right direction, though it also causes Neena to see the major piece she is missing in her life. While he may be her boss at work, Neena is eager to get better acquainted with William Winthorpe and push anyone who serves as an obstacle out of her way, including Cat!

Cat and Neena begin a friendship that soon blossoms, but neither is clueless to the other’s ultimate goal. The admiration that Neena has begins to grow and she must make her move before it’s too late. Cat is not clueless to the antics her neighbour has undertaken to curry favour with her husband. No one will steal William away from her without a fight to the end, that’s for sure. Danger lurks behind every corner and the secrets pile up. It will be Cat or Neena in the end, with William as the prize. Only thing left to determine is which of the two wants him more… and is willing to make the sacrifice to show him!

While this is my first A.R. Torre novel, I can see the allure of her work. It builds on some fairly uncomplicated plot development, but turns dark and addictive as the chapters progress. While the reader may feel they have entered a bucolic neighbourhood, they soon discover that fake friendships and cutthroat antics are the norm, beneath the Botox and country club lifestyle.

Told from the dual perspectives of Neena and Cat, the story offers two protagonists. While these women come from completely different backgrounds, they have one thing in common; a desire for William Winthorpe. Torre crafts her characters effectively and provides detailed backstories for them both in the narrative, as well as a slow development as the plot builds. While they appear to be friends on the surface, there is no doubt that Cat and Neena have no love loss between them, eager to gouge the eyes out of the other when no one is looking.

This tense friendship would not work without some strong supporting characters. Torre does well to provide those, though these individuals seem only present to help stir up the Cat and Neena feud. In this instance, it works effectively to have some wallflowers present throughout. Torre shows that she is capable of developing the needed support to show how her protagonists click and keeps the reader entertained between scenes of tenseness and evil plotting.

Torre’s writing is quite strong and she is able to keep the reader curious as the story progresses. While a cat fight (pardon the pun) may not seem all that alluring on paper, it is developed slowly and yet never loses its momentum. This provides the reader with a strong connection to the piece as they get lost in the narrative. Succinct and alternating chapters allow the reader to see things from both women’s perspectives, inching forward effectively to the final reveal, a battle for the attention and affection of a man, William, who really is not worth their time! While not your typical thriller, it works well and should keep the reader wanting more as they witness what two women would likely do to get what they want!

Kudos, Madam Torre, for introducing me to your work. I am eager to see if all the praise some of your other novels have received are worth it. This piece leads me to believe they might just be!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons