Little Rumours – Bryony Pearce

Little Rumours is about a small town in the County of Devon told from the point of view of Kelly, a woman in an identity protection program related to her ex-husband’s infamous and sociopathic crimes. She has a son, Joe, who is eleven. Naomi is native to the town and don’t you forget it! Her son Sean is Joe’s best friend. Kelly doesn’t want friends, which is a good thing when it comes to Naomi, who will not let some incomer into her circle. In fact, she is considering forbidding Sean from playing with Joe. None of US like Naomi. Aleema, a Muslim woman who is married to a local man, Noah, eels like a fish out of water. They moved to the village from a larger city to care for her mother-in-law, Mary who suffered a stroke. Although Mary now seems fine, Noah is reluctant to go back “home.” Their daughter is Mia. As with Kelly, people are less than welcoming to Aleema. Mia forms the third best friend with Joe and Sean. They are all in the sixth form at the local school and are inseparable.

As with any thriller, it’s hard to say much about Little Rumours without inadvertently putting in spoilers. So with my usual, “a bad thing happens,” the dynamics among these women and others in the town shift in dramatic ways because of the bad thing that happened. Suspicion of the incomers (we’d call them outsiders) and small mindedness lead to rather horrible behavior and all the while, the bad thing continues unsolved, poisoning the village. Pearce is a great plotter, giving us lots of information to conclude who did it and why. We know some things for sure, but the behaviors of the characters can cause us to doubt the for sure information, with good reason. Who is the woman in the red coat? This is a fast-paced, entertaining, sad, fairly scary but not a way in the deep end thriller where I have to stop reading for a few hours to calm down. In face, it’s fair to say I couldn’t put it down. I got a great picture of the language and culture of a village in Devon with a fun glossary of unfamiliar words up front in the book. . While there are cops and family members and friends and eleven year olds trying to solve the “bad thing that happened,” and every single character is stressed out through the roof, the resolution is both surprising — and not. I can highly recommend this one!

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