Top positive review
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Absorbing and entertaining tale from a master storyteller
on 17 April 2001
Anyone who has enjoyed Wilkie Collins' better known novels, and is looking to venture into new Collins territory, should enjoy this tale.
We are on familiar Collins terrain - an air of suspense haunts the narrative, there is a strong female lead and there is a mystery to be unraveled. What is not so familiar is the spelling out of that mystery - the dead secret of the title - fairly early on in the book.
However, as ever, Collins is the consummate storyteller and the reader remains gripped by seeing just how the various threads of the plot will be unraveled. For a mystery solved in part one, there is plenty to keep the reader page turning to the very end.
The novel was serialized in Household Words, and the Dickensian links are there for all to see. Particularly in characters such as the genial Uncle Joseph, or the stiff and pompous steward Mr Munder.
However, Collins is a strong writer in his own right. I do my reading on a commuter train to London, and the nicest thing about this book is it's delightful escapism - it is very absorbing and intelligent without being over-taxing.