Our Little Secret

Donald Ward, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-312-05942-2
In this low-key, engrossing suspense novel set in 1947, a child molester and murderer who disguises himself as Santa Claus to deceive his victims is at work in a small Canadian mining community. When eight-year-old Ellie is found dead at the bottom of an abandoned mine shaft, it is accepted as a tragic accident by all but her best friend, precocious Tilly Taggert, who is haunted by nightmares of a shadowy figure and a subconscious awareness of Ellie's secret. As the leisurely narrative moves from early fall to the Christmas season, the murderer visits 13-year-old Margie Allen. Tilly overhears a confrontation between the two and knows she must save Margie, but she's afraid: the man's frightening, persuasive voice resembles that of her father, who is haunted by his war experience. Ward's polished style is marred by a tendency to cuteness, such as his anthropomorphizing of pets, and though the Taggerts are attractive and likable, Tilly and the other children seem overly mature. Still, Crow River's shameful secret is disquietingly similar to many real-life situations. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
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