Twitter-style summary: A traitor lurking in their midst threatens village life during WW2 casting a dark and deadly shadow over Molly, Abigail and Adam's holidays.
The Deeping Secrets is the second novel set in Victor Watson's (fictional) Cambridgeshire village of Great Deeping; a follow-up to his beautifully written debut, Paradise Barn, which was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award.
I know it marks me out as a grammar geek, but it the thing I love most about this book is Victor's use of sentence structure and punctuation. This technical mastery is what makes the narrative sing for me. It seems simple - and that's exactly the desired effect - but to deliver such simplicity is anything but. As an editor, I can't help but admire such skill.
Contained within such accessible writing are some very complex subjects. Confident in the intelligence of his young audience, Victor presents an insight into a villainous mind right from the outset - juxtaposing the children's innocent desire for an untainted Easter holiday against psychopathic traitor whose "hidden" Nazi sympathies threaten to consume him from within.
As with Paradise Barn, it's the attention to detail in characters' astute and amusing observations, and descriptions of the setting that draw the reader into the world, making Great Deeping a very satisfying place to inhabit. (Albeit a dangerous one...)
Victor is also adept at pace, slowing down to the dawdle of a day spent doing little but achieving a lot and speeding up, weaving together disparate POVs in a tight, fast, frenzy of action. There's a stand-out passage in which multiple viewpoints are cleverly played against the reader's own knowledge, which elicits (in me, at least) philosophical musings on chance and circumstance.
A book that truly respects its audience, which in itself deserves respect.