Following the success of diverse writers coming out of smaller presses, it is so refreshing to see that the bigger publishing houses are now opening their doors to more diverse authors as well. It is a shame to think that just a few years ago, Wanda M. Morris might have struggled to gain attention for her excellent debut thriller, All Her Little Secrets. Fortunately, the reckoning that has been far-too-long in the coming prevented this gem from going unnoticed.
All Her Little Secrets opens with Ellice Littlejohn entering the corporate law office where she is the only black attorney, intent on meeting her boss (and secret lover) Michael in his twentieth-floor office. Upon arriving, she finds Michael dead of an apparent suicide. For reasons only Ellice will understand, she chooses to stay quiet about her discovery.
Later that day, Ellice Littlejohn is promoted to Michael’s position, despite not being entirely sure that she wants this job. Women’s intuition is at play here as Ellice is about to discover this was very much the wrong decision.
Ellice has a complex history dating back to her youth in Chillicothe, Georgia. Ellice has a younger brother whom no one knows about who has had his encounters with the police. For this – and other – reasons, Ellice distrusts the police and as they begin to suspect that she might have been involved in Michael’s killing, she must begin an investigation to dig deeper into his death – a death that most definitely was not a suicide.
From her new vantage point at the top of the corporate ladder, Ellice Littlejohn can see the truth of what is happening within the company. The only problem is that she is going to face trouble trying to get anyone to believe her. The novel deals with many topical issues – not the least of which are racism, sexism, and corporate politics – but it never loses sight of the human heart. The resolution is fittingly satisfying without going too saccharine.
Wanda M. Morris hardly allows readers to catch their breath from moment to moment in this exciting read. Her plot moves a breakneck speed with ever-escalating danger for Ellice. Like many thrillers, events occasionally go so far over the top that they stretch credibility, but that is to be expected in a genre built on tense action and beat-the-clock set-pieces. Speaking of genres, Wanda M. Morris successfully weaves a plethora of sub-genres into her novel. All Her Little Secrets is a suspense thriller with elements of domestic suspense, legal procedurals, and social commentary – all with an own-voice authenticity that elicits compassion from the reader.
Let us hope that voices such as Wanda M. Morris’ are no longer stifled for biased reasons and that the reading public will be exposed to stories from all walks of life for many years to come.
Disclaimer: A print galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the author. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.