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Sunday, 8 December 2019

‘The Secrets’ by Jane Adams


Published by Joffe Books,
12 April 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78931-097-9 (PB)
First published in 1998 as
Cast the First Stone

A young runaway, Ryan Sanderson, is offered a lift and a bed in a hostel by two men in a car, but the offer leads only to pain, fear and degradation. 

A family, Eric Pearson, his wife Johanna, and their six children, are placed in a house in a quiet close used by the council as short term accommodation. All too soon rumours circulate about Eric – that he was charged with sexual offences against children in his care and that although the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence suspicion persists and the house is soon surrounded by angry local residents, stones are thrown, windows are broken. Pearson asserts that he has evidence that will clear him of the accusations and implicate many others; his wife Johanna is determined to support him so that they can all return to the community – the Children of Solomon - where they had lived before the accusations and to which she is desperate to return with her family. The neighbours’ suspicions about the Pearsons are increased by Eric’s obsessive photographing of the neighbours, particularly the children, while the attempts of the few who are prepared to be friendly, such as Rezah Masouk and his wife, gentle, timid, heavily pregnant Ellie, are fiercely rebuffed.

At the same time, an appeal is to be heard in the case of Fletcher, a man convicted of numerous serious sexual offences. Detective Inspector Mike Crofts is tasked with examining the papers relating to Fletcher’s appeal; his boss Superintendent Jaques assures him that this is just a formality, ‘dotting the i’s, crossing the t’s’ but when he visits Pearson and Johanna to interview them about the disturbances in the close, she tells him that Eric will be giving evidence at Fletcher’s appeal and that will not only clear Eric’s name but implicate many others, some of high standing in the community.

And then the body of a boy, later identified as Ryan Sanderson, is discovered. Is he the victim of a paedophile ring or just a random killing? Croft senses that there is a possible connection between the boy’s death and both Fletcher and Pearson, maybe enough to allow him to search for potential links. But that search leads him into danger and at risk of physical attack.

This is quite a complex narrative into which the author has cleverly inserted tiny clues as to where Crofts’ investigation may lead. It should be read attentively! Crofts is an attractive character; although the death of his own son some years before deeply saddens him although it has not embittered him. He is on good terms with his colleagues and his friendship with former police officer John Tynan whose assistance he knows he can call on in his investigation is a great support to him. Above all he now has a warm and loving relationship with Maria, a hospital psychiatrist, who can offer him psychological insights into the personalities of those affected by the abuse they have suffered. Recommended.
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Reviewer: Radmila May 

Jane Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk-rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing; martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. There are several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Twelve titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and more recently seven books featuring Rina Martin. Her latest series is set in the 1920’s and features Chief Inspector Henry Johnson. Jane has also written three standalone novels. She is married with two children. 


Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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