The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm
Published By Bonnier Zaffre
Buy It: here
What The Blurb Says:
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 realises 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 . . .
What I Say:
Georgia Sage has a job that many of us don’t even think about. We take for granted the sketches from inside the courtroom that appear on our news programmes and only notice them if something stands out about them. Georgia not only sketches scenes from inside the courtroom, but she understands the power that she has in interpreting the character of the people inside the courtroom. By deciding whether or not she feels that someone is guilty or not guilty, Georgia produces sketches that show the personality of the person and influences the judging decisions that are made. Georgia wants justice to be done, and for those who are guilty to be punished.
Georgia is not doing this as a malicious endeavour, she herself has been the victim of a senseless and unspeakably terrible crime. As a young girl, then called Suzanne, she was locked in her bedroom as her father killed her mother and her younger brother Pip. Her life shattered and incomprehensible, she is sent to live with foster parents and given a new identity as Georgia Sage to start to rebuild her life.
Little by little, Georgia starts to see a young boy around her. The only thing is, no one else does. Georgia knows that something is not right, but she feels she has no one to turn to. As well as trying to maintain her career, she is battling with the realisation that she may be like her father, and is suffering with mental health issues.
When Georgia is approached to draw a picture for a book featuring the most memorable cases of courtroom artists, she finds herself forced to revisit a disturbing case she had to document earlier in her career. Daniel Fielding, apparently jealous of his new step mother, set fire to the house while she was inside, unaware she was pregnant and that there were two children being babysat inside. His father Jim, had rushed into the fire and managed to save the two young children. However, he lost his wife and unborn baby in a seemingly senseless crime perpetrated by a member of his family.
When Jim and Georgia meet, he seems initally to be the reluctant and humble hero, but as Georgia starts to paint him, to see the man behind the headlines. you sense that there is much more to him than first appears. For me, I thought that it was particularly poignant that the more Georgia adds layers to her painting, that more layers are peeled away from Jim and the world around him. There is always an unease that permeates every visit she makes, a sense of mistrusting Georgia because she is not local, and that Jim is such a powerful part of his local community. As she gets more involved in his world, she starts to realise that Jim may be far more complex and not the folk hero he first seems..
All the while, Georgia is seeing not only a little boy called Charlie, who it transpires was one of the children caught in the Fielding’s fire, but also her murdered brother Pip, and a teenage girl Georgia nicknames Pink. This is a brilliant plot device – it serves to disorentiate and confuse us and wonder what on earth this means. We see Georgia battling with her demons on a daily basis, and how it makes her worry about her own mental state and ability to function, to appear ‘normal’ so she can keep her job.
When the reason for Georgia seeing these children is revealed (as always, am not going to tell you – buy the book!), as a reader you understand that this not only explains what Georgia has been seeing and why, but also makes us understand how she has to become focussed on what is ultimately important to resolve these issues while she still can.
In Georgia, Kate has created a sensitive and relatable character. We feel her sense of loss, her ongoing struggle to try and build an identity and a new life. I felt that we were as much a part of Georgia’s journey as she is, she is trying to not only make sense of her past life, but also to ultimately be comfortable with her new one.
What differentiates The Secrets You Hide, and for me, makes it a must read novel is that it is so different to anything I have read before. The whole plot unravels little by little and packs punch after punch and twist after twist. I am certainly not going to tell you any more about what happens, because it would absolutely spoilt it, but let me tell you this. I have read lots of books, and I did not guess at all what was going to happen. The joy of The Secrets You Hide is its complexity and intelligence. It takes the tried and tested thriller genre, shakes it up, and adds a brilliantly flawed heroine who we desperately want to succeed, and ensures we are there every breathtaking step of the way.
Kate Helm’s first novel of this genre is brilliant in its orginality and razor sharp in its execution. Believe me, if you love books, and are looking for your next must read novel, you won’t want to miss this chance to meet Georgia Sage for the first, and hopefully not the last time.
I loved it.
What Kate Says:
I am very proud to have a guest post from Kate Helm, the Author of The Secrets You Hide – here’s Kate to tell you about which podcasts you should be listening to and why.
Am off to download them all now…
Top 5 podcasts for thriller fans – and thriller writers – by author Kate Helm
If you’re a crime or thriller fan who hasn’t discovered podcasts yet, this could change your life.
I love podcasts: they’re free, easy to download and they transform household chores, dog walks and any other routine task into a fascinating experience. And, in my case, they’ve even inspired an entire novel: the idea for The Secrets You Hide came when I was listening to one on a cross-trainer.
So here are my top 5 for fans of crime and thriller writing:
It was an episode of Criminal, a beautifully made American podcast, that triggered the idea for my novel about a courtroom artist. In Pen and Paper, They interviewed court sketch artists about their work and how it felt to stare into the eyes of the accused and the seed of the story began to grow in my mind. I love Criminal because the show features quirky, unexpected cases and fascinating people who operate across the law, from dog theft to the impact of gunshot wounds.
Many crime-themed podcasts are US-based, but this one focuses on UK cases – it can be gritty but I love the range of topics covered, from the Krays right up to contemporary trials.
This is a UK BBC current affairs show so each week there’s a well-made investigative documentary covering crime and legal issues, as well as other controversial subjects. It’s not just the stories themselves that grip, it’s also how the reporters uncover them, as it gives you a glimpse of what it takes to get to the truth.
The bingeworthy one-off podcasts – Serial, Murder in the Lucky Holiday Hotel, The Ratline
Serial put investigative podcasts on the map, as it unpicked a cold case step-by-step across multiple episodes: it’s now on its third season. I am a sucker for a story that unravels slowly, playing tricks with you as you change your mind about guilt or innocence. The two ‘intrigue’ documentaries from the BBC offer the same depth and doubts, with Murder at the Lucky Holiday Hotel focusing on shady Chinese-British business dealings, and The Ratline dealing with the Nazi’s secret escape route from Europe.
Too much true crime can be exhausting or depressing – and like many readers, and writers, the whydunnit matters as much to me as the whodunnit. Hidden Brain is a great listen, covering the psychology of groups and individuals, from #metoo to procrastination or going without sleep. The examples are always fascinating and the presenter Shankar Vedantam really gets the most of out each topic.
The Secrets You Hide is published as an e-book on October 4 and paperback on February 7. Join Kate’s free book club for exclusive previews and competitions to win signed books by your favourite thriller authors, via Kate’s website www.kate-harrison.com or follow her on Twitter @katewritesbooks
If you have missed any more posts from Kate’s Blog Tour, here are my fellow brilliant bloggers who have been taking part. Find out what they have been saying about The Secrets You Hide..
Thanks to Francesca Russell and Sahina Bibi at Bonnier Zaffre and Netgalley for my e-copy in exchange for an honest review.