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4.2 out of 5 stars62
4.2 out of 5 stars
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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.
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on 23 August 2009
Warning: this review contains spoilers

This is another of those early Wilkie Collins' novels which display many of the themes and preoccupations which found fruit in his greatest novels 'The Woman in White' and 'The Moonstone' - a strong narrative drive and bags of atmosphere.

The secret is easy to fathom early on, but that does not detract from enjoying the novel.

Highlights are the account of Mrs Treverton's death, the description of the ruined mansion Porthgenna Tower and the discovery of a document in a room unopened for many years, an excellent piece of writing where Collins really racks up the tension.

There are also a strong set of characters: the tortured Sarah Leeson, her supportive Uncle Joseph who carries a music box with him everywhere, the forceful Rosamond Frankland; even the servants at Porthgenna, Mrs Pentreath and Mr Munder, are strongly individualised.

A rattling good yarn.
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on 26 July 2012
It was a real treat to receive a book that one could really get into from the very beginning. Maybe it was a little drawn out in places,but the description of people and places kept ones attention the whole time. No swearing, no violence, no sex, just a lovely old fashioned story that kept you guessing until the very end. (Although of course one had ideas!). Thank you Wilkie Collins, your "Dead Secret" kept me very much "alive" until the end.
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on 2 October 2013
Wilkie Collins rarely disappoints and this book keeps up his standard, a little too sugary for my taste but the quality of writing and storytelling is as good as always
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on 8 September 2013
A little gem,beautiful visual descriptions told to us in a really lovely gentle story that could bring a tear to your eyes
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on 18 August 2015
Having read The Woman In White I was intrigued by this title from the same author. The novel does not flow so well as The Woman In White but then The Dead Secret was written much earlier. It is an intriguing tale with a twist at the end. The reader is kept guessing until near the end what the actual secret is and then the final chapters bring everything to a satisfactory conclusion with all the loose ends tied up - perhaps a little too well?!
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on 18 April 2015
I cannot get enough of Wilkie Collins books. Every book I have read by Collins takes me on a journey which I don't want to end and "The Dead Secret" is no exception. There is really nothing I can fault in his writing and anyone who hasn't yet read his books is missing a real treat. I have stopped reading the "cover" information to tell me what the story is about - I just launch myself straight in knowing it will be a "glorious ride"!
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on 9 December 2014
Wilkie Collins is one of the best storytellers ever. Even though we're reading Victorian literature from a 21st century perspective, people are still people and we feel for the characters as they are caught up in their terrors and moral dilemmas. A great read that teaches us that honesty will always be the best policy - though I wonder what Rosamund's life would have been if Sarah had been honest from the start?
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on 17 October 2010
This review applies specifically to the Kindle edition:

Wilkie Collins was a genius, and I was really looking forward to reading this book in the certainty that it was going to be great. Unfortunately, the Kindle edition is littered with typographical and formatting errors, rendering it unreadable. I don't expect to pay £3 for the pleasure and can't believe Amazon don't exert any sort of quality control over products offered in the Kindle store.

My advice: go buy the paper edition, I'm sure it's amazing. But stay well clear of ths digital download.
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on 14 April 2014
I have rated this as a five star, as I found the story intriguing. It unfolded gradually but without unnecessary padding of words, so held my interest.

Couldn't wait to continue reading it every night when my time was my own. It transported me to another place in time.

It is the first classical novel that I have found easy to read without too many twists and turns.
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