Thrilled to host a stop on the blog tour for The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm today! My thanks to Francesca at Bonnier Zaffre for the invitation to join and my review copy. The lovely Kate Helm visits my blog today to talk about Brighton as a location for her novel and I’ll also be sharing my thoughts on this fabulous thriller. But first, here is what The Secrets You Hide is all about.
Author : Kate Helm
Title : The Secrets You Hide
Pages : 330
Publisher : Bonnier Zaffre
Publication date : October 4, 2018 (ebook) | February 7, 2019 (paperback)
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 . . .
How often do we look at someone and immediately decide whether we like them or not? How often are we wrong and does our initial idea of someone change? What if you’re a court artist, like Georgia Sage? She thinks she has a firm grasp on people’s faces and can spot evil in a flash. After all, she’s been drawing them for years and she knows what to look out for. With a few simple brush strokes, she can get her opinion of a suspect at a trial across to a tv audience as well. But what if she’s wrong?
Drawn back to one of the first court cases Georgia attended, she may need to face up to the fact she possibly helped the guilty party go free. While searching for the truth and hopefully seeing justice served, Georgia finds herself confronted with her own dark past. A chilling event from her childhood has haunted her ever since but the truth is even more devastating. As Georgia will soon discover for herself.
This compelling story has a lot to offer. Not only is there the wonderful setting in Brighton but there’s a murder to solve and for once, there’s not a detective in sight. There’s just Georgia, a normal young woman, albeit it a tad damaged. While the pace was maybe somewhat on the slow side at the beginning, I found myself utterly engrossed, wondering what was going on. But then!
I’m not a fan of this whole “twist you won’t see coming” thing but guess what?! There was a twist I didn’t see coming! It changed the entire storyline, tilting it right onto its head, making me sit up just that little bit straighter. All of a sudden, an “average” crime thriller turned into something highly original and unusual and I absolutely loved it!
With a unique premise and an exciting first chapter, this had me utterly gripped. A slow burner, yes, but packed full of emotion and intriguing characters. The Secrets You Hide is well-plotted, brilliantly written, addictive and hugely satisfying. If you enjoy your crime thrillers and you’re looking for something that’s a little bit different, look no more! I’m incredibly excited to find out what Kate Helm comes up with next.
The Secrets You Hide is available in e-book format now. The UK paperback will be published on February 7 and can be pre-ordered.
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Brighton by the book: thriller author Kate Helm examines why sunny Brighton is the perfect setting for murder
Oh I do like to be beside the seaside… especially when I am writing about murder.
Because there’s something about coastal towns that makes them brilliant places to live – but also the ideal setting for truly terrifying events.
Brighton has been my home town for the last seven years and I love the city. So when I decided to write my first thriller, I wanted to pay my own tribute to its beauty – and its seediness. I’m not the first. Graham Greene portrayed its underworld in Brighton Rock – and Peter James’ bestsellers feature the challenges and mysteries of policing the place.
My Brighton is very different – well, it’d be madness to take on Peter James on his home turf – as it’s seen from the point of view of an ‘ordinary’ person. Though my heroine, courtroom sketch artist Georgia, is not everyone’s idea of normal.
She fled to the city to escape terrible memories and a broken relationship. As an artist, the light was one attraction for her. It’s one of my biggest pleasures too. Living on the coast means you really can experience four seasons in one day. And the fact that I can walk for less than sixty seconds and see the sea and the horizon, means it’s easy to regain your sense of perspective.
Georgia lives in a flat in Brunswick Square – if you’ve ever seen a photograph of the city’s buttermilk-coloured terraced crescents, chances are it’s Brunswick. I describe them as ‘wedding cake houses’ – I’ve been inside a couple of these flats, with their huge bay windows and heart-stopping sea views. Georgia’s difficult past means she can afford to buy a flat and live there alone – though the price of her ’wealth’ is one most of us would never want to pay.
As she tries to solve the central mystery in the book – whether a person she helped convict really did murder his stepmother in a devastating fire on Christmas Eve – she walks by the seafront to clear her head. The pebble beach here is well-known, but what I didn’t know till I moved here is how at very low tide, another beach is revealed, a wet sandy shoreline that I can never resist paddling in.
The irritations of living in a tourist hot spot are part of Georgia’s life – the bottlenecks caused by delightful but chattering foreign language students, the noise of the stag and hen parties, the damp buildings caused by year-round salty breezes.
As Georgia’s job is sketching people involved in criminal trials, she spends a lot of time in court. And that’s where I’ve taken the biggest liberty – by inventing a new crown court for Brighton. The real crown court here is in Hove – the posher end of the city – and it’s an ugly box of a building with very little charm. So I let my imagination summon up a Victorian court house in the same place as the current Brighton Magistrates’. It has turrets and wood panelling and giant institutional radiators that make it baking hot all year round. It’s based on courts I’ve visited, but if you look for it on Eastern Road, all you’ll find is the police station and the American Express building.
Georgia loves the city as much as I do, and she hangs out in the same shabby pubs I visit when the seafront haunts are packed with tourists. She came here – as many people do – looking for answers, but also finds acceptance, because the city really is one of the most tolerant places in the world.
And my final connection to this place? My pseudonym. Because my past books have been very different, we decided to create a new identity for me. I keep my first name but needed a second one to replace Harrison. Brighthelmstone is the name for the original settlement here – so Kate Helm it is. My new name is my own tribute to the city I love.
[Photography by Kate Helm]
Kate Helm was born in Lancashire, and worked as a journalist covering courts and crime, before becoming a BBC reporter and producer in news and current affairs. She also wrote documentary and drama scripts, including the BBC1 programme: Angel of Death: The Story of Beverly Allitt.
Kate Helm is a pseudonym for author Kate Harrison whose non-fiction and novels have been sold in 20 territories and sold over 800,000 copies. Kate lives in Brighton, this is her first book under the name Kate Helm and her debut adult crime novel.
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