Dark Secrets by Catherine Lee

The good news is that the third book in this series is just as good than the first two.  The bad news is that the fourth book won’t be available until next July.  Ms Lee is now officially on my list of favourite Australian crime writers.

Dark Secrets by Catherine Lee

‘What do you say when someone asks how many children you’ve got?’

Jackie Rose is convinced that her eldest son Lachlan did not commit suicide.  Lachlan was only seventeen.  But when the police investigating the case advise Jackie that Lachlan’s death has been officially ruled a suicide, Jackie is reluctant to accept it.  Jackie enlists the help of her best friend Liz’s husband: Detective Charlie Cooper.  While Cooper is reluctant to investigate another team’s closed case at first, he doesn’t want to upset his wife.  So Cooper and his partner Joey Quinn start looking at the case and soon form the view that someone is killing kids and making it look like suicide.  Who?  And why?

In the meantime, Jackie’s preoccupation with Lachlan’s death is causing her ex-husband Marcus concern.  He’s worried about the impact on their other two children, Ethan and Emma.  Especially after Jackie forgets to pick Emma up from school and she goes missing.  Will Jackie’s increasing unreliability cause her to lose her two remaining children?

The action shifts between Cooper and Quinn’s investigation into a number of teenage deaths that have been ruled suicide.  The deeper Cooper and Quinn dig, the more secrets they uncover.  Cyber-bullying is a factor, but will Cooper and Quinn be able to put all the pieces together before another teenager dies?

I couldn’t put this novel down.  Ms Lee has written a fast-paced novel involving the sad and tragic issues of teen bullying and suicide, and on some of the consequences for family members where relationships breakdown.  How do families cope with the death of a child?  How do children address and survive bullying?    Ms Cooper maintains tension throughout novel as the story moves between Jackie’s personal issues and the police investigations.  At the same time, the characters of Charlie Cooper and Joey Quinn are further developed, and Charlie Cooper has his own family responsibilities to consider.

This is the third novel in Ms Lee’s ‘Dark Series’.  I will now wait as patiently as I can for the fourth novel: ‘Dark Chemistry’ (which is, according to Ms Lee’s website, due in July 2017).

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

#AWW2016

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