All Her Little Secrets
by Wanda M. Morris
Released on November 2nd, 2021
Published by William Morrow
Adult Fiction—Mystery, Thriller
In this fast-paced thriller, Wanda M. Morris crafts a twisty mystery about a black lawyer who gets in over her head after the sudden death of her boss. A debut perfect for fans of Attica Locke, Alyssa Cole, Harlan Coben, and Celeste Ng, with shades of How to Get Away with Murder and John Grisham’s The Firm.
Everyone has something to hide…
Ellice Littlejohn seemingly has it all: an Ivy League law degree, a well-paying job as a corporate attorney in midtown Atlanta, great friends, and a “for fun” relationship with a rich, charming executive—her white boss, Michael.
But everything changes one cold January morning when Ellice goes to meet Michael… and finds him dead with a gunshot to his head.
And then she walks away like nothing has happened. Why? Ellice has been keeping a cache of dark secrets, including a small-town past and a kid brother who’s spent time on the other side of the law. She can’t be thrust into the spotlight—again.
But instead of grieving this tragedy, people are gossiping, the police are getting suspicious, and Ellice, the company’s lone black attorney, is promoted to replace Michael. While the opportunity is a dream-come-true, Ellice just can’t shake the feeling that something is off.
When she uncovers shady dealings inside the company, Ellice is trapped in an impossible ethical and moral dilemma. Suddenly, Ellice’s past and present lives collide as she launches into a pulse-pounding race to protect the brother she tried to save years ago and stop a conspiracy far more sinister than she could have ever imagined…
Trigger/Content Warning(s): Racism, Abortion, Murder, Child Abuse, Rape, Pedophilia, Police Brutality
All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris is a slow-burn thriller with an unexpected twist waiting to rear its ugly head.
Morris crafted an interesting story that started a bit scandalous: an affair between the main character Ellice and her boss Michael, finding his dead body and failing to report it, the secrets that begin spilling from thereafter…
The plot was formulative. It depended entirely on story-building with minimal character development. And while it was interesting in certain aspects–the question of ‘WHO,’ the backstory that slowly crawled from its deep but shallow grave–it can be determined that it took too long for there to be a solid hook and pull to really entice readers. The pacing of this story, as mentioned, is set up for a slow burn. At times, though, it felt as if it was dragging at an almost painful pace.
Ellice brought up a lot of questions, and for a majority of the story, it felt as though she just kept asking them without making the necessary steps to answer them. As though it was a circle continuously being walked but never opened. This is a murder-mystery/thriller, but in a low energy formatting that made it fairly easy to grow bored and wish for more to be happening.
Building on that, there just was not enough character development. Ellice blocked a lot from her childhood out–for good reason, too! But in doing so, she blocked her family out when they needed her. This leads to certain consequences happening and a whole lot of guilt. But other than that, it felt as though her character sat stagnant for 60-70% of the book.
The side characters fell into a similar pattern, too–such as Grace, Juice, Rudy, and Hardy. Their names and attendance were only brought up at the most convenient of times, and it did not feel as though they were properly sewed into the story. When it came to the antagonists, however, it can be determined that they had a better standing in the story, and their actions and behavior were fortified well.
It should be added that this book, though having the listed issues, was redeemed in the last part. It seemed the problems above were nearly all solved, and the story was wrapped up almost eerily nicely.
With that, for the entirety of the book, there was a severe sense of uncomfortableness that the author produced onto the reader. Morris wanted readers to feel a certain way about Ellice’s life and the actions being done unto her, and it came across rather well. It’s a story of racism with a sense of hopefulness that something can and will be done against those who still dare to spew and create hate and harm.
Overall, I still like this book. I think All Her Little Secrets had a bad case of debut syndrome, and that is the reason for some of the issues. But even so, I did like it, and for that, I give it a starred review. I do plan to read more from Wanda M. Morris in the future.
Wanda M. Morris is a corporate attorney, having worked in the legal departments of some of America’s top Fortune 100 companies. As an accomplished presenter and leader, she previously served as President of the Georgia Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, in which she established a signature female empowerment program known as the Women’s Initiative.
Wanda M. Morris is an alumni of the Yale Writers Workshop and a Claymore Award finalist for mystery writing. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. She is married, the mother of three, and she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.