A quick, entertaining read. If you love gossip, this is one for you! 3.5/5 stars.
Thank you to Penguin UK and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.
The paperback of The Fifth Letter will be published in the UK two weeks today on Thursday 23rd February. But if you can’t wait, the good news is that the Kindle Edition is already available for download.
The blurb: Joni, Trina, Deb and Eden. Best friends since the first day of school. Best friends, they liked to say, forever. But now they are in their thirties and real life – husbands, children, work – has got in the way. So, resurrecting their annual trip away, Joni has an idea, something to help them reconnect. Each woman will write an anonymous letter, sharing with their friends the things that are really going on in their lives.
But as the confessions come tumbling out, Joni starts to feel the certainty of their decades-long friendships slip from her fingers. Anger. Accusations. Desires. Deceit. And then she finds another letter. One that was never supposed to be read. A fifth letter. Containing a secret so big that its writer had tried to destroy it. And now Joni is starting to wonder, did she ever really know her friends at all?
The premise for this book is solid and intriguing. When reading the blurb, the mention of Joni’s “great” idea to get the friends to share huge secrets anonymously already had me thinking, “Well, that’s not going to go well, is it?!” So I was surprised that The Fifth Letter turned out to be a lighter book than I’d expected, although the dark undertones are certainly there. Moriarty could easily have taken this story into thriller territory if she had wanted, and the narrative walks a fine line between domestic melodrama, mystery and psychological thriller.
The plot itself, with its many secrets and revelations, is compelling and managed to hold my interest even though the main character – Joni – is incredibly annoying. Several times she says to herself, “Oo, hark at me, I should really stop being so selfish and making this all about me, shouldn’t I?” and then proceeds to be selfish and make it all about her. Again. Honestly, a little part of me was hoping one of her friends would freak out and kill her… but then that would have taken us firmly into psychological thriller territory!
Despite it’s more irritating characters, the story cleverly keeps its vital cards close to its chest, revealing a new surprise every few chapters to keep you hooked and turning the pages. The author juggles all the women’s secrets with great skill and when the final reveals come, everything makes sense, even though the identity of the writer of the fifth letter and their motivation was the most unbelievable element of the whole plot.
Overall: The Fifth Letter is a quick, easy, entertaining read. If you’re someone who loves gossip and finding out about other people’s private lives, then this could well be one for you.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul