Reviews for All her little secrets : a novel

Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

An Ivy-educated Black lawyer in Atlanta, Ellice Littlejohn has just stumbled upon the dead body of her wealthy white boss, with whom she had been having an affair. Secrets in her own past, including a younger brother with criminal associations, compel her to turn away instead of calling the police. Then she discovers suspect dealings inside her own company. Corporate attorney Morris offers a debut mystery strong enough to be named the publisher's Lead Read for the season. With a 150,000-copy first printing.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Ellice Littlejohn grew up poor and Black in rural Chillicothe, Georgia, where she left a lot of secrets behind. Now a corporate lawyer with an Ivy League law degree in midtown Atlanta, she luxuriates in Italian sheets and a Prada coat. Sometimes she shares those sheets with her married white boss. That's a big lie to live, along with those she tells to keep her past hidden. “Every lie you tell, every secret you keep, is a fragile little thing that must be protected and accounted for,” says Ellice. One frosty January morning, she arrives for an early morning meeting and finds her boss dead. What appears to be suicide is determined to be murder, and having been hastily promoted as his replacement, she becomes a prime suspect. The first-person narrative will hold the reader captive as Ellice struggles under a tremendous burden of moral and ethical issues, both personal and professional. Then comes danger, when she realizes something definitely illegal is going on within the company. Woven into the story is an eye-opening look at what it is to fight all the -isms of being Black and female in America. Ellice is a compelling and multidimensional hero in this must-have debut that will be embraced by all legal-thriller readers.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A seat on the executive board should be a professional peak for a corporate lawyer. Instead, it’s a life-threatening trap. Success hasn’t been easy for Ellice Littlejohn. As a Black woman, she’s dealt with barriers other lawyers haven’t, especially in Atlanta, a city that, despite its vibrant and diverse present, hasn’t shed its racist history. To rise, Ellice has carefully shaped her image—and left out certain pieces of her past, like her childhood in a small, grindingly poor Georgia town where some very bad things happened before she escaped via a scholarship to an elite boarding school. She has secrets in the present, too, notably her long-term affair with Michael Sayles, who is married, White, and her boss in Houghton Transportation’s legal department. When he summons her for an early-morning meeting and she arrives at his office to find him dead, an apparent suicide, she keeps that a secret, too, leaving his body to be discovered by someone else. Ellice had no delusions about being in love with Michael—it was a colleagues-with-benefits situation for a woman focused more on her career than her personal life—but his death blows up her entire life. Among its least expected effects: She’s promoted to his job as head of legal, which puts her on the board of a family-owned, almost entirely White corporation. Houghton has been under pressure about its lack of employee diversity, and her hiring should improve their optics. But she feels distinctly unwelcome on the board despite the support of company CEO Nate Ashe, a somewhat dotty Southern gentleman. The harder she looks into what really happened to Michael, the more she uncovers in the company that alarms her. At the same time, her own secrets are being revealed. Morris builds an escalating thriller plot packed with convincing details about corporate politics and skulduggery. She also provides a knowledgeable portrait of Atlanta’s complex social structure. One of Ellice’s secrets is Vera Henderson, the woman who raised her and her brother, Sam. Vera, once a fierce defender of children and women, is now a dementia patient in a nursing home, and Morris skillfully paints the loving, painful relationship between her and Ellice. Corporate competition is not only racist and sexist, but deadly in this confident debut thriller. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Ellice Littlejohn grew up poor and Black in rural Chillicothe, Georgia, where she left a lot of secrets behind. Now a corporate lawyer with an Ivy League law degree in midtown Atlanta, she luxuriates in Italian sheets and a Prada coat. Sometimes she shares those sheets with her married white boss. That's a big lie to live, along with those she tells to keep her past hidden. “Every lie you tell, every secret you keep, is a fragile little thing that must be protected and accounted for,” says Ellice. One frosty January morning, she arrives for an early morning meeting and finds her boss dead. What appears to be suicide is determined to be murder, and having been hastily promoted as his replacement, she becomes a prime suspect. The first-person narrative will hold the reader captive as Ellice struggles under a tremendous burden of moral and ethical issues, both personal and professional. Then comes danger, when she realizes something definitely illegal is going on within the company. Woven into the story is an eye-opening look at what it is to fight all the -isms of being Black and female in America. Ellice is a compelling and multidimensional hero in this must-have debut that will be embraced by all legal-thriller readers.


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Lawyer Ellice Littlejohn is a long way from the red clay of her small Georgia town, her scholarship days in a Virginia boarding school, and her mother, who is addicted to alcohol. But Ellice's compartmentalizing of her life falls apart when her boss is murdered. She is quickly promoted into his position as chief legal counsel. And while Ellice has a litany of professional accomplishments, she can't shake the feeling that something about her promotion is suspect. Is it because she's the only Black executive? Is it the guilt she feels for having an affair with her late boss? Corporate corruption, greed, issues of race, and murder combine in this perfect listen for patrons who have finished the latest John Grisham or Michael Connelly. Recommend also to fans of The Gone Dead, by Chanelle Benz, and No One Is Coming To Save Us, by Stephanie Powell Watts. VERDICT Morris's convincing writing and Susan Dalian's compelling narration make this powerful debut a must-add to audiobook collections.—Lesley Mason


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Attorney Morris puts her experiences as a Black woman navigating the corridors of corporate power to good use in her strong debut, a legal thriller. Ellice Littlejohn, a 40-something Black woman, is relatively content as a senior member of the legal department at Atlanta’s Houghton Transportation Company. But that all changes when she arrives for an early morning meeting with her white boss, Houghton’s general counsel and her lover, Michael Sayles, and finds him dead from a gunshot to the head, apparently self-inflicted. Freaked out, Ellice doesn’t report her grim discovery and acts surprised when the news reaches her. She’s further stunned to be immediately promoted to fill Michael’s role before she has a chance to decide whether she wants the position. She becomes increasingly anxious when she’s interviewed by the police, who are treating the death as a homicide. Morris gives her flawed lead plenty to struggle with, including a secret, ex-con brother; workplace sexism and racism; and an awkward encounter with her lover’s widow. The fast pacing doesn’t overwhelm the deep dive into Ellice’s inner life. John Grisham fans will be pleased. Agent: Lori Galvin, Aevitas Creative Management. (Nov.)


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

DEBUT Fortysomething Atlanta corporate attorney Ellice Littlejohn has an impeccable résumé, but she laments her lack of wonderful husband or intelligent kids. She's been having a years-long affair with her married boss, Michael—until the morning she finds him dead in the office, near a pool of blood and a gun. Ellice then does what she always does—she runs. The bloody scene gives her a flashback of being a poor Black girl growing up in rural Georgia, contending with an alcohol-addicted mother and a sexually abusive stepfather, a white police officer. Ellice and her aunt Vera eventually put an end to the trauma together—a secret she'd planned to take with her to the grave. Until now. The CEO promotes Ellice into Michael's job, and it's clear to her that she's the corporate diversity token, "the lone Black person, expected to represent the success or failure of every Black woman who worked in corporate America." When someone leaves her a note alluding to her childhood secret, she's determined to stop the blackmail. Ellice uncovers not only murder but terrifying racism running amok. VERDICT In her debut thriller, corporate attorney Morris deftly combines a creepy Nazi-esque sect with a murderous plot and rounds out the intrigue with a striking commentary on racism, sexual assault, and misogyny.—K.L. Romo, Duncanville, TX

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