Our Little Secret

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About The Book

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
*Winner of the Douglas Kennedy Prize for Best Foreign Thriller
*Shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize
*Shortlisted for the Arthur Ellis Best First Crime Novel Award

A compulsive, bestselling debut thriller about a tangled love triangle, the secrets we keep, and the secrets we share.

The detective wants to know what happened to Saskia, as if I could just skip to the ending and all would be well. But stories begin at the beginning and some secrets have to be earned.

Angela is being held in a police interrogation room. Her ex’s wife has gone missing and Detective Novak is sure Angela knows something, despite her claim that she’s not involved.

At Novak’s prodding, Angela tells a story going back ten years, explaining how she met and fell in love with her high school friend HP. But as her past unfolds, she reveals a disconcerting love triangle and a dark, tangled web of betrayals. Is Angela a scorned ex-lover with criminal intent? Or a pawn in someone else’s revenge scheme? Who is she protecting? And why?

Twisty and suspenseful, Our Little Secret is an intense cat-and-mouse game and a riveting thriller about the lies we tell others—and ourselves.

Excerpt

Our Little Secret chapter 1
I’ve been in the police station all morning while they ask me questions about Saskia. Every hour the cops come to me, one after another, with a new pad of paper and a full cup of coffee. They must pass off the same brain at the door when they leave, hand it over like an Olympic baton, because not one of them strays from the script. Do you know the woman well? Can you speculate on where she’s gone? Are you upset? Angry? How do you feel about Mr. Parker? Would you consider your relationship with him to be particularly . . . close? Always a pause before the adjective.

That’s the thing: they sound like they’re asking about Saskia, but all roads lead to Mr. Parker and me. The police want to know if I’m in love with him, and they ask it like it’s the simplest explanation rather than the most complicated. My definition of love is nothing like theirs, though. Language can’t link us anymore: somewhere along the way, the important words got emptied and dulled, bandied around until they lost all electricity. Honestly, I don’t think they know what they’re asking.

Mr. Parker. It’s funny to hear his name that way; to me he’s HP and he always will be. For the hours I’ve sat in this room with cold-faced interviewers who don’t know me, it’s him I miss the most. I’ve done nothing wrong and until I know what’s happened, I’m saying nothing. Cross my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, I’d tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but it’s like they’re trying to solve a puzzle by fixating on one piece, as if it might change shape for them if they prod at it for long enough with their chimpy thumbs. They sit with their heads down, anticipating my answers and writing them in before the words are even mine. I wonder if it matters what I tell them.

The walls in this room merge with the floors in a sheen of polish: you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. It’s as if no living creature ever spent time in here. The sole sign of humanity is on the wall to my left: one small line of graffiti written in fervent black capitals. THE URGE TO DESTROY IS CREATIVE. I’ve looked at it all morning, and it makes me worry about who sat here before me and what they were up to.

The only furniture in the room is a chrome table with four chairs, all the legs stubbed with rubber to avoid scarring the floor. Above the door a clock with a beige face judders its long hand through the seconds. In the top-left corner is a video camera. The red light winks at me. There’s one window up high to my right, but the glass doesn’t open. The long, thin pane glints like a reptile tank in a pet store. The police station parking lot must be out there. I often hear car doors banging.

There are other interview rooms on this corridor—I’m sure of it, because the air sucks in like a gasp every time the police officers open a door. Who’s being questioned in those rooms? I can’t be the only one they’ve brought in.

At noon they send in a fresh recruit. This one is dressed in a suit with a name badge clipped on his right pocket.

“Hello, Angela.” J. Novak studies the clipboard on his lap.

He writes the time in twenty-four-hour digits and fills out his name on the dotted line. J for James? John? Jekyll? He’s shaved his sideburns so that his hair cuts a strange line over the tops of his ears.

“How are you feeling this morning?” He clears his throat, and his Adam’s apple bobs. “I’m Detective Novak. I’ve been asked to take the lead because I specialize in homicide cases.” He exhales, an apology for his talents. “Here, I brought you water and food.” He holds out a generic bottle of water and two granola bars. When I don’t respond, he places them gently on the table. “Look, we really need you to talk to us, to help us find Saskia. If you could just fill in the blanks, we can close your file.” Detective Novak’s pen drums against the clipboard in a measured pulse. The top is chewed into a dented peak.

“I have a question.” My voice bounces around the vinyl walls. Novak’s dark eyebrows shoot up. He puts his pen down.

“Fire away,” he says, like we’re just hanging out over lattes.

“Do you really want to know what happened?” My voice is a tiny husk. It’s the only question anyone should ever need to ask.

Novak smiles, a tight line on his lips, and pulls the sleeves of his jacket lower to cover his shirt cuffs. He puts both palms flat on each side of his paper, the pen horizontal at the top like a spoon at a place setting. He is waiting to be fed.

Reading Group Guide

Our Little Secret
By Roz Nay
Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Our Little Secret includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Angela is being held in a police interrogation room. Her ex’s wife has gone missing and Detective Novak is sure Angela knows something, despite her claim that she’s not involved.

At Novak’s prodding, Angela tells a story going back ten years, explaining how she met and fell in love with her high school friend HP. But as her past unfolds, she reveals a disconcerting love triangle and a dark, tangled web of betrayals. Is Angela a scorned ex-lover with criminal intent? Or a pawn in someone else’s revenge scheme? Who is she protecting? And why?

Twisty and suspenseful, Our Little Secret is an intense cat-and-mouse game and a riveting thriller about the lies we tell others—and ourselves.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. When Angela first meets Detective Novak, he asks that she fill in the blanks about Saskia. In order to answer Novak’s questions, Angela goes back ten years, despite the fact that she doesn’t meet Saskia until after high school. Why does Angela choose to begin her story from this point?

2. In the interrogation room, Angela notices a small line of graffiti on the wall that reads: “the urge to destroy is creative.” When reading the novel, did these lines affect your interpretation of Angela or the stories she was telling?

3. During the course of the book, both Angela’s and HP’s names change according to who is addressing them. She is Angela, Little John, or LJ; he is HP or Hamish. What do these nicknames indicate about the characters and how they relate to themselves and others?

4. Discuss Angela’s relationship with HP. They started out as best friends, and then they started dating. How did you feel when they got together? Why do you think they broke up?

5. In high school, HP says that Angela is his soul mate, but Saskia believes she and HP are soul mates. Do you think that HP and Angela were meant to be? Can you have more than one soul mate?

6. When HP first befriends Angela, he tells her, “Some secrets you have to earn.” Does Angela earn HP’s secrets? If yes, how? How does Detective Novak earn Angela’s secrets?

7. What were your initial impressions of Freddy? As Angela’s friend, do you think he had good intentions? Was he a good or bad influence in Angela’s life?

8. Angela’s dad was determined to get her into an Ivy League school, and her mom was obsessed with Angela dating HP. Why do you think her parents were fixated on these life goals? Did these pressures affect Angela even after she finished high school? How so?

9. Angela’s mom suggests that Angela make a Manifestation Jar in hopes that she can forgive and forget after her miserable summer watching HP and Saskia together. But when the jar resurfaces, Detective Novak uses it as evidence against Angela. Do you think Angela believed her manifestations would come true? Did the jar have a positive or negative affect on her life?

10. People often have a time in their life that they think of as golden, or as the best time of their life—for Angela, that time is high school and her relationship with HP. How does this idolization of her past affect her present and future?

11. Saskia is obsessed with elephants because they mate for life and mourn their dead. Why is the elephant such an important symbol? And what is the significance of the necklace that Detective Novak presents to Angela?

12. Later in the novel, Saskia tells Angela, “Sometimes I think we met on the same night because of fate.” Do you think Angela believes in fate? Does fate direct Angela’s actions? How?

13. Is Angela a trustworthy narrator? Why or why not?

14. Discuss the structure of the book. What effect does alternating between Angela’s present interrogation and her memory of the past have on the story? Did learning about Angela’s past help you better understand her future actions?

15. Is Angela a sympathetic protagonist? Did your feelings about Angela change as you read the book? If so, how?

16. Discuss the power of love in the novel. Discuss the power of obsession.

17. How does the author foreshadow the final events of the novel? Did you see the twist coming or were you surprised by the novel’s outcome?

18. Could Saskia’s death have been prevented? Why or why not?

19. Discuss Angela’s final revelation to Detective Novak. Is she manipulating him or does she truly believe in her own version of the events?

20. What do you think happens to the characters after the novel is over? How do you think the events will impact each of their lives and relationships going forward?

Enhance Your Book Club

1. Angela idolizes her time in high school and with HP, and is therefore unable to move on from that time in her life. Is there a time in your life that you have idolized? When was it? Tell your book club about it.

2. Make a manifestation jar with the members of your book club. According to Angela’s mom, “You take little pieces of paper, write down your hopes and dreams and pop them into the jar.” Sounds easy enough!

3. To learn more about Roz Nay, you can visit her website www.roznay.com or follow her on twitter at @roznay1 for regular updates on her writing.

About The Author

(c) Lisa Seyfried Photography

Roz Nay’s debut novel, Our Little Secret, was a national bestseller, won the Douglas Kennedy Prize for best foreign thriller in France, and was nominated for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Mystery and the Arthur Ellis Best First Novel Award. Roz has lived and worked in Africa, Australia, the US, and the UK. She now lives in British Columbia, Canada, with her husband and two children. Look for her latest thriller, Hurry Home, in stores July 2020. Visit her at RozNay.com or connect with her on Twitter @RozNay1 and Instagram @RozNay.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 31, 2020)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781982105204

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Raves and Reviews

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE DOUGLAS KENNEDY PRIZE FOR BEST FOREIGN THRILLER

SHORTLISTED FOR THE KOBO EMERGING WRITER PRIZE AND THE ARTHUR ELLIS BEST FIRST CRIME NOVEL

“Roz Nay’s addictive debut proves that dark secrets of the past cannot be forgotten.” 

– Us Weekly

“Bound to draw comparisons to Ruth Ware and Sophie Hannah, Roz Nay’s crackling debut begins on the scene of a woman being interrogated by police for hours on end, and from there, unfurls a memorably twisted love story.” 

– Entertainment Weekly

A cracking read. Flicking back and forth from the first love to a police cell, Our Little Secret builds to a deliciously dark conclusion.”

– RUTH WARE, author of The Woman in Cabin 10

One of the best grip-lit titles of the year. . . . The writing, it must be said, is supremely seductive. Nay draws the reader in with compelling characters, deliciously dark themes, clever turns of phrase and heightened levels of suspense. What’s more, the intimate bond that Angela shares with charismatic, sun-kissed swim captain HP is nothing short of mesmerizing. Nay’s psychological thriller will have readers clamouring for more.” 

– Toronto Star

A guaranteed good read. . . . You’re likely to read it in one breathless sitting.” 

– The Globe and Mail

“A clever and addictive read that had me enthralled from the first chapter all the way to the shocking twist that left me breathless. I stayed in bed one lazy afternoon and polished it off, then stared up at my ceiling, stunned that it was over and still half in love with the characters. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a debut this good. Roz Nay is going to be a name we hear a lot of in the future.”

– CHEVY STEVENS, bestselling author of Still Missing

“In her debut novel, Roz Nay lures readers down a dark and tangled path that explores the aftereffects of lost first loves. Our Little Secret is a gripping addition to the psych thriller world.” 

– MARY KUBICA, New York Times–bestselling author of The Good Girl

A gripping and unsettling story, which left me guessing until the very end.”  

– B. A. PARIS, author of Behind Closed Doors

“In Roz Nay’s tightly woven debut, Our Little Secret, we meet Angela—a wily woman with a twisted love story, who is in quite a heap of trouble. As the story unfolds and the mystery deepens, the breadcrumbs Nay expertly leaves behind reveal a dark truth you won’t see coming. Ruth Ware fans will love this compulsive, impossible-to-put-down novel!

– KARMA BROWN, bestselling author of Come Away with Me

“A sneaky-smart, charismatic debut that will win fans among those who enjoy the kind of duplicitous and deliciously complex psychological suspense written by Ruth Ware, Sophie Hannah, and Erin Kelly.”

– Booklist (Starred Review)

“Fans of Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware will devour this twisty psychological thriller; Nay has expertly crafted a narrative that has the potential to veer in several directions, keeping the readers enthralled and guessing until the end.” 

– Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Roz Nay shows how the past is never truly past, and can be darker than we guess, especially when it comes to first loves. A most promising debut.”

– ANDREW PYPER, bestselling author of The Demonologist and The Only Child

 “A stunning debut. . . . Our Little Secret is a deliciously twisted novel about a love triangle. It’s so suspenseful your heart will be pounding as you hurry to the end. Roz Nay has proven she can write the thriller you haven't read before.”

– LIZ FENTON and LISA STEINKE, authors of The Good Widow

Keeps readers enthralled with prose that’s at once lyrical and incisive.”

– Shelf Awareness

“Nay expertly spins an insidious clever web, perfectly capturing the soaring heights and crushing lows of first love and how the loss of that love can make even the sanest people a little crazy. Carve out some time for this riveting, one-sitting read.” 

– Kirkus Reviews

Awards and Honors

  • Kobo Emerging Writer Prize Genre Fiction Shortlist
  • Arthur Ellis Best First Crime Novel Finalist
  • Paul's Pick

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images

  • Author Photo (jpg): Roz Nay
    (c) Lisa Seyfried Photography
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