Friday, 5 October 2018

Review and Q&A: The Secrets You Hide - Kate Helm

In her eyes, no-one is innocent...

A knock-out read for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Anatomy of a Scandal and Apple Tree Yard.

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist, she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realizes her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Slater family, something happens that threatens not only her career - but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her terrible childhood is finally coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more terrifying...

THE SECRETS YOU HIDE is an ambitious rocket of a novel. Every layer, every twist, every revelation makes you question the very characters you thought you could trust, and rethink a plot you thought you were beginning to unravel...

Kate Helm is also known as Kate Harrison and has published numerous books both fiction and non-fiction, including the YA trilogy that started with Soul Beach which I loved. This is her crime fiction debut, hence the name change, and it's a corker of a crime debut!

Georgia Sage is one of a dying breed in this digital age, a court artist. The person who draws the sketches you see on television, of the judges and jury, the defendants and other people of interest - all brilliantly brought to life in pencil and pastel.

But Georgia wasn't always Georgia and she knows the horrors and brutality all too well. It's this legacy that leads her to believe she can 'sense' good or evil in a defendant. When Georgia starts to see things, people that can't possibly be there, she believes her past is catching up with her and that she is going mad.

Blaming what turns out to be a desperately sad medical diagnosis on stress, insomnia, and even too much alcohol, Georgia carries on with her life.  Despite everything, she signs up for a new book project which takes her back to one of her most memorable cases of her court artist career. When she starts to jump to conclusions about what really may have happened, she ends up neck deep in trouble and with her life in danger.

The Secrets You Hide is a character-driven novel, all the way through, and has some of the most fleshed out characters I've read in a long time. Georgia is a simply wonderful character. Realizing she's about to lose everything that means something she throws herself into her work, knowing that what she's doing is driven by purely selfish reasons. Also standing out is Georgia's former fiance, Oliver, a barrister who is now married with a child on the way. Even though Georgia pushed him away he never gives up on her and is determined to remain in her life which is quite easy considering he is a barrister!

The Secrets You Hide is a page-turner from start to finish. I started reading it the minute I downloaded it and didn't put it down until I had finished, a couple of hours later.  It's a slow-burner of a novel but it builds up the tension perfectly, leading to what was an excellent confrontation with the real villain of the piece. I very much enjoyed Secrets and am certainly hoping that we'll be hearing more from Kate in her crime writing persona.

The Secrets You Hide - Kate Helm
Publisher - Bonnier Zaffre
Release date - October 4th, 2018

Q & A With Kate Helm

1. What inspired The Secrets You Hide?

KH - It came from hearing a podcast while I was at the gym about a courtroom artist in America who described what her job was like: I worked as a court reporter when I was a very young journalist, and I realized this was a way to write about justice and guilt and the secrets about ourselves that we all try to keep hidden.

2. What drew you to thriller writing specifically?

KH - I love reading thrillers but I hadn’t planned to write one until I had this idea – now I have been completely bitten by the crime-writing bug and spend an awful lot of time thinking about deadly scenarios, high emotions, and twists. It’s really cathartic and the thriller writing and reading community is just so welcoming too.

3. The book is about the world of the court artist. Are you artistic?

KH - I would love to be artistic but I can’t draw or paint to save my life (except walls: I am quite good at decorating!). I failed Art at school when I was going through a bit of a monochrome Gothic phase, but I love colour, especially the names of all the different shades, which are like a palette to paint word pictures with. It was fascinating to research how sketch artists work, and I share Georgia’s fascination with faces and portraits, but I will leave creating art to the people with a talent for it!

4. How would you describe the main character Georgia in five words?

KH - Damaged, vengeful, loyal, compassionate, courageous.

5. What is the best thing about being an author?

KH - So many things to choose from but I think it’s a huge privilege to be able to create characters and invent stories that become so real in readers’ minds that they want to talk about their decisions and disasters!


  1. This sounds really unique and interesting! I think I'll need to check this one out. :) I would have never thought to write a book based on a court artist, so that's a really interesting component to me. Great review and Q&A!

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