Title: Best Kept Secrets by Tracey S. Phillips
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
Best friends tell each other everything.
Even their deepest, darkest secrets–pinky promise.
Morgan Jewell and Fay Ramsey are enjoying their last summer together before college. Fay is shy, with a controlling mother, and Morgan is the perfect, wild, loud-mouthed yang to Fay’s yin. But when Fay is found dead, Morgan’s entire world crumbles.
Years later, Morgan is still haunted by the abrupt end to her best friend’s life. She knew Fay held a secret in those final days, but Morgan, now a homicide detective, has failed to make a picture out of the crooked puzzle pieces she left behind. Nothing makes sense. The leads have run dry. Until she’s called to the scene of a murder: a woman whose body is left mangled, too similar to Fay’s to ignore.
Could it be? Morgan vowed to do right by Fay. This is the case she’s been waiting for to set her back on the killer’s trail. But the closer she gets, the harder it forces her to confront the memories of herself and her best friend. What was her secret? What got her killed? Maybe Morgan didn’t know her at all.
Best Kept Secrets is an intriguing mystery by debut author Tracey S. Phillips.
Homicide Detective Morgan Jewell is obsessed with finding out who murdered her best friend Fay Ramsey sixteen years ago. She is so fixated on solving the case that she ties other killings with similar MOs to Fay’s death. The present day murder of Hallie Marks reinvigorates Morgan’s theory much to the dismay of her longtime partner Detective Donnie James. Despite his best efforts to rein her in, Morgan doggedly searches for information that will, at long last, bring Fay’s killer to justice.
Morgan is one of those irritating characters who have a massive case of tunnel vision. She has already decided that Hallie and other similar murders have been committed by Fay’s killer and she does everything in her power to prove she is right. Morgan is not sleeping or taking care of herself as she feverishly revisits old cases and pores over the files in order to find a definitive link that will lead to a viable suspect. She runs roughshod over Donnie and other detectives in her zeal to show that they are searching for a serial killer.
Morgan has one suspect from Fay’s unsolved murder but he has never been located. She and Donnie have better luck finding and interviewing his sister. Chapters from the sister’s perspective offer very surprising details about her and her brother’s lives both in the past and present.
Weaving back and forth in time, Best Kept Secrets has an interesting premise but the pacing is slow and Morgan is an unlikable lead protagonist. The chapters alternate between two different points of view and they offer a fascinating peek into the events over a broad period of time. Morgan’s behavior as a detective is somewhat unrealistic but Donnie does try to redirect her focus. With a final shocking yet somewhat predictable plot twist, the novel comes to an abrupt conclusion that is vaguely unsatisfying. An imperfect debut but I would definitely read another book written by Tracey S. Phillips.