The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux – extract

The Secret Santa, the debut novel by Trish Harnetiaux, was published by Cornerstone on 1 October 2019.

Today Cornerstone have kindly allowed me to share an extract from the book with you.

By midnight the snowfall would reach a foot, just shy of breaking Aspen’s one-day record set more than forty years before. No one predicted the storm would be so severe. The sheer speed of it. The first flakes didn’t even start coming down until around two that afternoon.

Claudine couldn’t see them outside the salon’s picture window, her head stuck under a hooded dryer. With a freshly French- manicured hand, she reached into her cream-coloured Chanel flap bag and pulled out the guest list: not counting herself, Henry, and their six employees. There hadn’t been much time to put the list together. Zara had let her know she was coming just a few days before. Considering the short notice and how packed Aspen social calendars were during the holiday season, these were good, solid choices:

Captain and Mrs. Tiggleman

Kevin and Jerry

The Alpine Brothers

Old-school residents with character and charm. And, of course, purpose. The Tigglemans could rave about both houses she’d sold them— and show Zara that Aspen, unlike Hollywood, didn’t favour youth but was a place where one could age with class and grace. Claudine could have gone wider with the invitations, but it would have been a mistake to think packing the party with a room full of insipid millionaires was the right move to impress a pop star.

As she sat in the salon chair, Top 40 hits blared through the speakers, and rather than glossy, oversized European fashion magazines the reading material was cheap, well- thumbed supermarket tabloids. There was a stack of them on the table next to the hair dryer. She had already read them. The same stack sat on her desk at the office. Research. They all had Zara on the cover. Her streaked- blue hair pulled back in a greasy, disheveled bun. Oversized sunglasses covering eyes no doubt swollen from crying and sleeplessness. And the telltale sign of sorrow for a celebrity of her stature: sweatpants.





That something, apparently, was going mansion hunting in Aspen.

About the book

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 Secret Santa gift exchange.

As heavy snow traps the guests inside the mountainside lodge, it quickly becomes clear that one of the party is out for revenge.

It’s no longer just about enduring the evening. It’s about making sure you get out alive.

About the author

Trish Harnetiaux is a playwright whose work has been published by Samuel French. She has received fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo and the Millay Colony. This is her first novel. She is originally from Washington State and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, which means she is partial to hard rain, volcanic ash, and artisan flea markets.

*I was asked to share this extract to help promote The Secret Santa. I did not receive a copy of the book or any other payment for doing so.*

One Comment Add yours

  1. James McEwan says:

    I really like the cover on this, I’ll have a look towards reading later.


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