Wicked Secret by Valerie Keogh really contains a wicked secret. There is the main murder mystery. Who did it? That is not the wicked secret. There is a secondary and much more entertaining secondary murder mystery. Who did it? That is not the wicked secret either. The perpetrators of the two murders hoped their identities were secret, but those identities were not wicked secrets. Nicola, an abrasive almost psychic, a person who had helped the police solve gruesome crimes in the past, had a really wicked secret. My challenge will be to present an idea of what the book is about without revealing the secret. It is an interesting secret and should support reader interest in this novel as well as follow up novels.
This novel is character driven but not in the way that the story moves forward as characters behave in proper or inappropriate ways. If that were true, the reader would have some interpreting and filtering to do. The characters reveal their foibles, accomplishments, and mistakes but as they do so they reflect on past events in which character paths have interacted. Tom remembers how Nicola helped in past cases while also reflects on his uneasy feelings about her. Nicola has no use for anyone else and provides stories about the private lives of other main characters. Her scorn for the weaknesses of others invites the readers to seek proof of the validity of her assessments. As others change (or don’t) their opinions of Nicola, I believe it is Nicola who drives the story. Not that she wants to. She wants to be left alone.
This novel has an interesting sexual component. It is an important component of the mystery but it does not overshadow it. There is absolutely no offensive language. The realistic and sensitive descriptions of same gender relationships (more than one) were refreshing in their absence of political bombast. They were descriptive and well done; not prescriptive and demanding universal compliance.
This is Book Four in a series of “Hudson and Connolly” novels. My Kindle edition does not say it is Book Four and the author does not tout other books in a prologue or afterword. I hope there is a Book Five because Nicola needs to be further examined (on several layers). Readers will feel guilty for liking her; she is likable but only for a small, select audience. This novel was interesting enough for me to download the first three novels of the series. I won’t read them right away. They will occupy a special place on my TBR shelf for when I want to read a story I can roll around in. The stories are comfortable with characters that invite involvement rather than observation.