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The Secret Santa

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  170 ratings  ·  41 reviews
...It's beginning to look a lot like murder...


A lavish party. An isolated mansion. Two hosts who will do anything to protect their secrets.

When husband and wife Henry and Claudine organise their firm’s Christmas party in a remote mansion, they expect it to be a night to remember.

But the festive mood quickly turns sour when a sinister
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 31st 2019 by Arrow (first published 2019)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
Rating details
 ·  170 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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Rachel Gilbey
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars

Wow I did not see that coming!! I could tell the whole book was building to something, but really wasn't sure how it would all come together and i didn't guess the actual outcome at all.

I will freely admit this was an impulse request from Netgalley, I love Christmas books, and always curious about a clearly more sinister darker side of a festive story, so couldn't really resist it. And it is definitely one of the smarted impulse decisions I have made.

I've never know an office Secret
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I enjoyed reading every word, every sentence , every page, and every chapter so much so that I didn’t want The Secret Santa, to end.

The Secret Santa is Trish Harnertiaux debut novel, I’m pleased to say Trish Harnetiaux has now become one of my favourite authors and I will now be on the careful watch eye for more thrillers by her.

The setting of this story is rather like playing clue do at Christmas. My favourite characters were Claudine Calhoun and her husband
Paula  Phillips
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Claudine and her husband Henry are celebrating their annual Christmas Party and Claudine is making sure that this year's one goes down with a bang as she changes the venue to Montague House - this was the first house that Henry and Claudine built and sold. This was the house that launched their careers. It is also a house though that holds some sad and terrible memories and the house that started to pull them apart as a couple. Celebrity Pop Singer Zara is wanting to move to Aspen as she was ...more
So never heard of this author before but the book cover, title and blurb really appealed to me which is what made me give this book a go.

I have to say that the story was a little slow going and a bit confusing to begin with, but once you get passed the 40% it gets really good and things start to make sense and pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place.

The story was a really good one, quite unique too. Pretty well written, sets the scenes and location really well.

There is something of a
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow!! Loved the premise of the story.
A party on isolated mansion and two hosts who would do anything to protect their secrets. But it all unraveled when a gift unwrapped in the secret Santa gift exchange. And the entire party soon turned to revenge.

My first book by this author, I was quite in a good rapture when the revenge plot sunk in. The author did a brilliant job in keeping the atmosphere spooky and suspenseful, especially on the backdrop of Christmas.

The characters were not very likable
Stacey Wendy  Hammond
Oct 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
Probably up there as one of the worst books I've read this year. Didn't get any better after Part 2, didn't make for a great story, could have been so much better. Also why it was called secret santa I don't know, as nothing in the book pointed towards anything to do with Christmas. Disappointed that I wasted my money on this.
Sep 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read this book early. I was not at all familiar with this author but I love a good mystery/thriller and this sounded as such so I decided to give it a try.
I finished the book a few days ago but I am still trying to find the words to describe it for review.
It starts with an unkown 'person' writing a letter to someone since it was discovered that this 'person' is dying and wanted to share secrets of the past to the receiver of the letter. I admit it
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve played so many times the Secret Santa at school and in my work, that I would never thought it could be something so competitive and dangerous!
The story is told in the present, like the memories and thoughts of the characters but they relate to the story from the past, like someone has recollected all the events that happened a few days before the fatidic moment. There aren’t many characters, but they are interesting and with a few dark secrets hidden, sadly all of them will see the light
Joyce Stewart Reviews
The Secret Santa
It’s beginning to look a lot like murder…
by Trish Harnetiaux
287 pages
Pub Date 31 Oct 2019
A lavish party.
An isolated mansion.
Two hosts who will do anything to protect their secrets.When husband and wife Henry and Claudine organise their company's Christmas party in a remote mansion, they expect it to be a night to remember.But the festive mood quickly turns sour when a sinister gift is unwrapped in the
Lisa Jenkins
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC of the secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux. First I want to say that while I like this book it was eerily similar to the book white elephant that I just also read. The plots were almost spot on the same. That was a bit of a disappointment although there were some things I really did enjoy about this book.
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
An unusual and entertaining Christmas story, fast paced and well crafted.
It's a closed room mystery and it's well crafted even if I found it a bit claustrophobic at times.
The mystery is solid and kept me guessing, the cast of characters interesting and it was a good read.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed this novel very much. The characters were extremely well drawn and sympathetic, and the story line was seamless. Highly reccomend this excellent book.
 Nyarlathotep Twelfth Month The Haunted Reading Room
THE SECRET SANTA is a remarkably twisty tale with a surprisingly vicious villain (very sneaky and Machiavellian) and some feckless "innocents" and undeserving villains. This was a one-sitting read as I raced through breathlessly awaiting the unraveling of the puzzles.
Linda Richardson
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
A fun locked room mystery where the characters were so well drawn I was easily immersed in the story. Don’t be surprised if the Lifetime channel picks up the movie rights on this one. FYI the book is being published in the US as “White Elephant.”
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Trish Harnetiaux writes a hugely engrossing and entertaining début novel. I love the odd Christmas story, and I am morbidly curious about the sinister, darker side of a good festive story, so I couldn't resist reading The Secret Santa.

Architect and estate agent Henry and Claudine Calhoun are hosting their company’s lavish Christmas party in a remote mansion, and they're hoping it will be a night to remember. The chosen venue, Montague House in affluent Aspen, was the first house that Henry and
Hannah Shattock
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I cracked! I was supposed to wait till December to read this, because of its theme but I couldn't wait any longer. Plus I organise the Secret Santa at my work every year and couldn't wait to read this titled book. First impression - didn't disappoint but I certainly won't be able to look at a simple game of Secret Santa the same way again!!!

This was really easy to read and a more lighthearted break from other things I've been reading/doing. There was a charm and a flow to the book that gripped
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The synopsis does a good job of letting you know a little bit about this murder mystery. A last minute chance of seeing a stunning property means a change of location for Henry and Claudine’s staff Christmas do. The party will be moved to the remote property so that it can be shown off at its best for a potential buyer. The Secret Santa game of exchanging presents has been something that has increased over the years and everyone tries to out-do each other, however this year one of the gifts has ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it

I love our buddy reads. I love the variety! There are books some of us wouldn’t usually read, books that have been on our TBR for ages, books that have had so much hype around them and we just want to get stuck into them too because you know we all get serious FOMO! Then we read and there’s some books we absolutely love and some that are utter shite.

I’m sorry for the brutality here but this one was one of them. Maybe that’s karma for us all being a little sadistic and saying ‘let’s all read a
Daniel Rowley
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(My full review is on my website
First off, I must thank NetGalley for letting me read this book early.

I would have thought reading Christmas Books in September would feel a little forced, but I settled into this one with ease. (and to be honest, I’ve been eating mince pies since August).

This story starts like a snowball rolling slowly down a mountain. We get to know the characters, their relationships and how they fit in at work. The snowball picks up pace and grows bigger as
This is a fantastic festive crime treat, it’s one I definitely recommend for reading over Christmas with a fire blazing, fairy lights twinkling, while gorging on holiday chocolate! Although it certainly won’t give you a warm fuzzy Christmas feeling, it will keep you entertained and gripped.

I adore locked-room, closed suspect pool thrillers. ‘The Secret Santa’ is set in the gorgeous, affluent Aspen and the main action takes place in a huge house right up in the mountains. Montague House is
Oct 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Real estate agent and architect Claudine and Henry Calhoun are finding business a little too slow of late so when pop sensation Zara contacts Claudine to view a mansion on their books she is more than determined to show the house off. However, this isn't just any old mansion but Montague House, the first house Calhoun & Calhoun ever sold . The problem is Claudine promised Henry he would never have to go back there and now it looks like everything Henry has tried to keep buried is about to ...more
This is not a typical Christmas read, nevertheless, it is a pageturner!

The story is told from four main characters' in an uneven sequence.

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and the king and queen of Aspen's real estate, Henry and Claudine are prepared for their annual company Christmas party. This year, a famous pop star and potential client/buyer joins their holiday celebration. Calhoun's annual Christmas party is famous around town for its very unique "Secret Santa" game. As guests
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
The opportunity to showcase the exquisite Montague House to a potential showbiz celebrity is too good to be true for husband and wife team Henry and Claudine, in fact they decided to move the annual Christmas party to the location to help make the property more appealing.

Part of the annual tradition includes a secret Santa presentation, but one of the gifts has a darker backstory that holds a sinister secret.

The book really racks up the tension once the reader is introduced to the characters and
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Zara a popstar hitting the highs, the celeb everyone wants to be seen with right now, to be sure of buying the best house she can shes called Claudine Calhoun to buy a house in Aspen, to escape California and the chaos, she seeks calm.

Is the house, designed by Claudine’s Husband Henry, is Aspen going to bring what she wants and craves right now, after a high profile romance goes bust. Invited by Claudine to see Montague house at its best – in full Christmas Party swing, Zara is heading in the
Janice Lombardo
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I used to be in with a Secret Santa group but this book takes it to a whole new level!

Claudine, a back-biting climber in the real estate world and her quiet, architect husband, Henry host a Holiday party. After we are given the background of Claudine and Henry, we are brought to the present - a party with a Secret Santa gift theme.

At the party are friends/co-workers and Zara, a pop star. Zara was invited because she wanted to perhaps buy the house in Aspen as a getaway. She likes Henry but
Husband and wife Cluadine and Henry are hosting a lavish Christmas party in a mansion in Aspen. A special guest, superstar Zara has been invited. Things turn sour when the secret santa game takes place and somebody opens a sinister present.

I read this book because of its seasonal theme. I found the book a quick, snappy fun read. I have to say that I did quite enjoy it.

The book has that claustrophobic feel with the guests been stranded in a house in heavy snow. It also has that Agatha Christie
Johnna Whetstone
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fun thriller, although, I wish I was able to have read it closer to Christmas, as I think that would make it even better. Well written, characters developed amazingly. I wasn’t as engrossed or unable to set down, as I am in books I rate with a 5 star, but I truly enjoyed the creepy book. Chills, thrills, shocks, and some holiday fear may accompany you as reading, since it did me! Definitely pick up a copy and give it a read closer to the holiday! You won’t regret it!
Will make sure I
Lucy Unsworth
Oct 27, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Glad it only cost me 99p

I suppose when you start flicking over pages, that should be a clue that you’re not going to enjoy this book. Unfortunately I started doing that by the third chapter. The big reveal was very predictable, and I ultimately really didn’t care who was responsible for the secret Santa gift.
I don’t think the whole “I’m going to confess my whole evil plan to you before I kill you” schtick has ever worked, and it certainly didn’t here.
Leyla Johnson
Nov 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Found this book a little hard to get into at first, due to the constant changes of the narrator but once I got the hang of it, it was an intriguing mystery, with characters which aroused personal feelings of likes or dislikes, the story progressed at a good pace with an ending that filled all the gaps.
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Secret Santa is an entertaining mystery. Loved the twisted plot, it really kept me glued to the story. I can’t imagine being confined in a room with so much animosity. If you enjoy mysteries this is the book for you. I received an arc from the publisher and this is my unbiased review.
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