Jane Fallon describes her work as chick noir. I’ve never read any of the non-noir variety, but this is my third Fallon, and I looked forward to another wry delight with a happily-ever-after.
I don’t expect a psychological thriller exploring the dark side of human relationships and our own worst fears, but a self-effacing heroine turning the tables on a cheating fella with the help of a bubbly best friend. There’s revenge, but it doesn’t involve death, cannibalism and crime.
Well, maybe a little bit of crime, but only ever for a good cause, and nobody gets really hurt.
In Tell Me a Secret, Holly is a fortysomething professional, and this time it’s a job, not a man, that she ends up fighting dirty over. She works as script editor for a TV show. She’s just won a promotion, when her office pal Roz starts running a campaign to make her look bad in front of the boss.
Roz is an unholy terror, and Holly a bit of a meek and gullible sidekick, sharing in her gossiping and Mean Girl-ing. It’s a mystery how she got the promotion in the first place, and you also question her professionalism when her idea of retaliation is to hide Roz’s scripts.
There are cliffhangers, dramatic twists, and over-the-top antics, but also suspense and a real edge: How are you supposed to react when you’re targeted by a workplace bully? The Rozs of the world excel at playing the victim, and funnily I’ve always found authority figures tend to fall for it!
But this is escapist revenge chick lit. Before becoming a bestselling author with the likes of My Sweet Revenge, Fallon was a TV producer on shows including Eastenders and This Life, so it’s a backstage world she knows well.
With its supporting cast of badly-behaved z-listers and raging egos, I can imagine Tell Me a Secret on the small screen as a bright comedy-drama .
It was a fun read for a difficult time.