By pages, I was completely hooked, and flying through the book in a madcap race to finish it and unearth all those titular dirty secrets. Olive Collins is possessor of many of those, and connected to almost everyone else's. She's just been discovered, dead, in her home in Withered Vale: the exclusive six-house development which grew up around Olive's long-standing cottage.
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Her body has lain there, decomposing, for three months; clearly the residents keep to themselves, and don't pop into one another's houses all the time. Detectives Frank and Emma discover that Olive died from a heart-attack: nothing too suspicious for a woman in her mid-fifties. Then they discover that her gas boiler has been tampered with, and the windows and vents sealed shut: now they get suspicious. Thus begins the questioning of the neighbours.
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Each has something to hide, and many had crossed swords with the victim in the days and weeks leading up to her death. We meet alpha-vegetarian David and earth mother Lily; Matt the meek accountant and wife Chrissy, who's carrying on with raffish salesman Ron he was also sleeping with Olive ; George the Trustafarian with a pornography addiction; Ed and Amelia the sketchy retired couple currently sunning it up out foreign; nervous single mother Alison and her precocious but fragile daughter, Holly.
All are dodgy to some degree; all had a reason to want Olive dead. She herself fills in much of this background in narrative "postcards from the dead": a nice touch. There's so much going on here; the plot is so busy, imaginative, cleverly structured and zippily-paced, that resistance is basically impossible.
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That's the genius of Spain as a writer, I think: she keeps it moving very briskly, hitting all the key beats at the right moments, barely giving you time to breathe. There's little of that boring "building up the backstory" you get in most domestic noir.
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And, thank God, very few interior monologues, where characters mull over an incident that we, the readers, have just seen for ourselves, in repetitive and energy-sapping detail. Instead, Spain shows, not tells. Something happens, and then something else happens, then something unexpected happens, and we shoot this way and that way, find ourselves turned on our heads, things are still happening, and more things… and we're still only halfway through. In some senses, Dirty Little Secrets is closer to a soap opera than a crime novel - and that's not meant as an insult.
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Soaps are all about story, incident, revealing character through action. They're lively and unpretentious and enjoyable - and so is this book.
Funnily enough, I didn't care for Spain's recent TV debut, Taken Down, specifically because it suffered from the flaws of many domestic crime novels: painfully slow, relationships before action, little tension or excitement, the feeling you're being hammered over the head with a message.
Dirty Little Secrets, though: this would make a rocking good TV show. Tiger Woods made reference to it earlier in the week, as did Phil Mickelson.
And when Rickie Fowler clocked a fan with his 5-iron approach on 18 on Friday, he said part of the reason was because of what had accumulated on his ball. Even a little bit of mud can influence a ball's flight.
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Photo by Getty Images. How could a course that is as maintained as immaculately as Augusta National be contending with mud in otherwise dry conditions? The more a ball rolls against the grain of the fairway, the more likely it is to pick up mud.
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And while a little bit of soil may not be much of a concern to the average golfer, it's enough to influence the the shots from tour players who measure yardage down to the decimal point. In other words, if you see someone miss a green at the most inopportunue moment Sunday, it might not necessarily be because of a bad swing.