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Secret Smile Paperback – 23 Sep 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Later printing edition (23 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014100651X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141006512
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 2.7 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 987,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

The husband and wife team that is Nicci French have always produced psychological thrillers of tremendous assurance and acuity, and Secret Smile is no exception. Miranda Cotton is incensed to return home to find her new lover, Brendan, deep into the pages of her diary. She angrily gives him his walking papers. But (in an eerie reminiscence of Ian McEwan's Enduring Love), the spurned (and threatening) lover has no intention of leaving his erstwhile partner alone.

Some weeks later, Miranda is listening to her sister Kerry enthusing about the new man in her life and learns, to her dismay, that the Brendan her sister is praising is her own ex-lover. Soon, she finds herself in a terrifying war of nerves with an opponent who knows how to wield the most lethal of weapons in psychological warfare. Eventually the mental conflict moves towards a physical threat that's every bit as dangerous as the preliminaries. French's novels work so well because of a perfectly judged combination of well-honed narrative (nary a wasted incident) and sharp, truthful characterisation. Here, Miranda and the implacable Brendan are truly memorable creations. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Nicci French again achieves a magic blend of taut terror and elegant turn of phrase." --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I read Nicci French's `LAND OF THE LIVING' over two years ago and was so rapt by it that I read it in one day. Yet for reasons unknown it took me over two years to pick up another one of her books and again I was completely rapt by it! Nicci French knows how to write suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat and wanting more.
`SECRET SMILE' kept me completely frustrated as the heroine Miranda tries to no avail to convince friends, family and the authorities that her ex-semi-boyfriend Brendan, who has now re-insinuated himself into her life as her sisters new fiancé, is not the sweet and caring man that everyone believes him to be. Brendan has quite easily convinced everyone close to Miranda that they had a bad breakup and that she took it very hard, when in actuality after a brief courtship Miranda ended it with him. Now those closest to Miranda believe that she is the one that is obsessed and slowly turn against her. After a series of tragedies Miranda does succumb to an obsession of Brendan, however she is now obsessed with revenge and a determination not to let him hurt anyone else.
One thing that puzzled me about this book was how easily it was for Miranda's family and friends to turn against her and take the word of this virtual stranger over hers. On the other hand, it did not seem as though Miranda tried her hardest to convince anyone of her story for fear of them not believing her. No matter how plausible this stranger's story may be, if my daughter, sister or friend felt that they were in danger I would have to be inclined to at least look into it. For this reason and this reason only I give this book 4 instead of 5 stars because all other aspects including the twist at the end kept me riveted. Surely it will not be another two years before I pick up another one of this authors books!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nicci French (husband and wife team) have found a niche for themselves in the psychological thriller. I belive one of the reasons for their success is the obvious attention to detail. They also manage to elicit empathy in the reader. However appalling the anti-hero is, we are interested in them. Brendan Block is a compelling character - and any woman who has had an experience with a sociopath will recognize with dread the tell-tale signs of obsession.
I also enjoyed Miranda's descent into depression and that powerless feeeling of not being credible in other's eyes.
Her friendship's with other women were, for me, the only low point of the novel. I find it hard to belive that an extremely close female friend would be unable to support another woman's anxiety about an 'ex'.
Saying that - I read this in one day - swept along by Miranda's personal 'Tempest' and her desperate efforts to make sense of her world that cracks under the weight of a strangers' insanity.
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Format: Paperback
After discovering Nicci French in 2000 with 'Beneath the Skin' I was hooked and devoured all her novels as quickly as possible. Then after reading 'Land of the Living' I found I was a little disappointed. It didn't do anything for me. Because of this set back I held back from reading Secret Smile, the premise (woman breaks up with boyfriend, he then gets with sister) didn't thrill me so much. However when I had a long train journey ahead of me and I found this at my local library I thought, why not?
Boy, am I glad I got it! I felt this was Nicci French returning to form and is now my favourite French novel. It is so simple and basic and yet chilling. I love the fact that the events of the novel could really happen and aren't at all over the top and unbelievable. It's a simple story that gathers pace and excitement, becoming more and more sinister as it does. The ending is also truly inspired! Good old French never lets us down with a good ending and a little twist!
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By Sian Louise VINE VOICE on 11 Sept. 2006
Format: Paperback
This is my favourite Nicci French book so far..(I have only read 4 or 5 so far though) And I loved this!

Every girls worst nightmare...an ex boyfriend who won't go away.

Brandon the ex boyfriend in this book is so creepy and is extremely well written that I got goosebumps every time he whispered something inappropiate and got away with it.

Also the fact that I watched the programme on ITV based on this book and I can say David Tennant creeps me out even more than what he used to lol

I recommend this book definately!
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Format: Hardcover
The premise for this new Nicci French novel is pretty simple - Miranda's deranged ex-boyfriend (indeed, he barely even qualifies for the term ex-boyfriend, as their "relationship" lasted a whole eight days before she came to her senses and dumped him), unable to tolerate her rejection, insinuates himself into the life of her family and embarks on a series of terrifying mind-games. I'm not sure how believable it really is - Brendan is SO unspeakably awful that you (a) want to punch him and (b) can't credit the way that nobody else appears to notice his awfulness. We don't really learn much about the reasons for his appalling behaviour... a couple of glimpses into his family background reveal very little of any significance.
What Nicci French does exceptionally well is to evoke an oppressive atmosphere of fear and, above all, of Miranda's frustration and horror at the nightmarish situation she has found herself in. It's easy to put yourself in her place and experience the rage and helplessness at being caught in the web created by Brendan - and being unable to find anybody at all to believe her.
"Secret Smile" is a fast, gripping read, although I did find the ending slightly disappointing and the "twist" a little bit pedestrian. Generally, though, if you have a taste for psychological thrillers, particularly written from the viewpoint of a woman, I would certainly recommend it.
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