A #bookreview of TELL ME NO SECRET by Brandon Ellrich #thriller

book reviews

Ciao, amici! I had the pleasure of reading a new-to-me author recently, which is something I don’t get to do often enough. He writes in my favorite genre (suspense/thriller), and I was excited to check out his work. I found his voice comfortable and his ideas bold. I’ll be keeping him on my radar. Read on for my review.


My Review:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

What a Tangled Web!

I really enjoy stories where the cast of characters seems to be disconnected in the beginning, but by the end you see how their lives all intertwine. And that’s exactly what readers get in Tell Me No Secret.

The novel follows the lives of a few high school students as we learn about Brad’s murder. That Joe killed him isn’t a mystery. But WHY is. And as we jump among characters and points in time, the mystery unfolds in a surprising way. Character motivations are crucial to carry a novel such as this, and at times I found they pushed the boundaries of the believable.

The novel isn’t categorized as a YA thriller, but I think it should be. I probably would have bought into the melodrama a bit more. The description did focus on the high school students, but I thought they’d be more mature or there would be some adult influences, too. Once I adjusted my expectations, the story sat better with me. 

The work was fairly well-written, save for passages of head-hopping (which is a pet peeve of mine but doesn’t bother everyone). It’s a short read, easily completed in an afternoon, and the ending is the kind I find gratifyingly satisfying. I wish I could give half stars on all the sites because this one sits squarely at 3.5 for me.


If you’ve got any thoughts about this one, I’d love to hear them. Grazie!

Published by Staci Troilo

A writer fascinated with interpersonal relationships, the importance of family, and the relevance of heritage. Learn more at https://stacitroilo.com.

43 thoughts on “A #bookreview of TELL ME NO SECRET by Brandon Ellrich #thriller

    1. Teens and twenty-somethings would love it. As I live with a daughter who is twenty-one, in her last semester of college while working a full-time job, about to get married, and planning a 650-mile move, there’s enough young drama in my life at the moment. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I think identifying your story and cover in the right genre makes a big difference. It helps your book find the right audience. I like dark fantasy but horror’s tricky for me, so if I THINK I’m getting fantasy but end up with horror, the story will bother me. Same goes for a thriller or a YA thriller. We come to a book with certain expectations based on those distinctions.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing, Staci. I have not heard of this author before. It’s absolutely amazing the things we learn as we hone our writing craft. Head-hopping and POV are biggies. I hope this author grows along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Staci, for sharing your review. I really appreciate your approach and the care you took to assess the story, the writing, and the overall merit. It sounds like a good read. For sure, your review is excellent and helps me with my decision.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The cover didn’t, nor did the category. But the description is all about high school kids. I assumed they’d act older, or the action would move out of their “world” quickly, but it didn’t. That’s what made it a hard call for me. It’s having a bit of an identity crisis.

      Thanks, Sue.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can see where that YA distinction would make a difference. It’s good you were able to reframe your reading that way, so you could enjoy it more. Sounds like an interesting read. Wonderful review!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I liked your mention of having to adjust your mindset to a “YA” audience in order for the story to sit better with you. It definitely helps get through some of the teen angst and melodrama that sometimes accompanies YA reads, things that I weary of very quickly. And I agree about the head hopping. I’m glad the story has a satisfying ending. Thanks for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The punchy ending did elevate the story for me, as did adjusting my expectations regarding genre. I think that makes a difference. Head-hopping is just one of those things where it either bothers you or it doesn’t.

      Thanks for dropping by, Diana!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think most authors have a problem with head hopping when they cross it in books. I know I do.
    I cracked open a J.D. Robb book the other day and by page 3 there was a head hop. You’d think after all this time, Nora would learn to do it correctly. Then again, I guess she doesn’t have to.

    Back to your review. It sounds like the book had a lot of good points mixed in. Having just come off a 3-star read, I know that rating (or a 3.5) still speaks to a lot of merit. Excellent review, Staci.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nora, Stephen, James… they can get away with things the rest of us can’t. That’s for sure.

      I think this book has a lot of merit. A 3.5 from me in a YA (which I maintain this is) genre is good, because that’s not a genre I relish. Too much melodrama for my taste. But maybe that’s unfair for me to even give it a 3.5 because, if it was YA (which it’s currently NOT classified as), it would have the right amount of melodrama and therefore would be hitting the right notes and could be ranked higher.

      It was a difficult one to score. But if you like YA thrillers, it’s worth a look.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The book I gave 3 stars to, many reviewers called a YA thriller. The characters were college-aged so I didn’t consider it that way, and I don’t think it was classified that way either. Genre definitely makes a difference.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with Robbie – head hopping is something that’s difficult for me to overlook. I read a book by an aquaintance last year, and he hopped heads from one sentence to another. Drove me crazy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I imagine a YA audience would give it a solid 4; maybe even higher. I think I probably grade more critically than most people. When I compare my reviews to other people’s I often see they’re a little higher than I am. So he should be seeing big numbers on his book. Particularly with a YA thriller audience.

      Like

    1. Reading and televising/film viewing. Once you know how a story is put together, you often know the ending at the beginning. It’s probably a lot like one illusionist watching another’s routine. Enjoyable, but not “magical” anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s exactly it. I can’t say I ever noticed technical issues like head-hopping before college, critique groups, and years of honing my own craft. Reviews from writers and reviews from readers are probably very different. Great point.

      Liked by 1 person

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