Monday, October 15, 2012

The Secret Keeper (Kate Morton)

I wholeheartedly and without reservation recommend Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper as the best book of 2012 (so far).  Not many people I know are familiar with the Australian’s work, and I wouldn’t have been either if I had not gone looking for similar books to Diane Setterfeld’s The Thirteenth TaleThe Distant Hours, The Forgotten Garden, and The House at Riverton all received a well-deserved 5 from me for their unbelievable depth and layering.  Even though The Secret Keeper is not Morton’s usual “Gothic English mystery” genre, it’s still historical fiction and absolutely jam packed with breathtaking suspense.

Weaving effortlessly and seamlessly between present day and World War II England, The Secret Keeper is the story of secrets, betrayals, and utter heartbreak.  It begins in the early 1960s with teenage Laurel lazing the day away in a treehouse.  While the rest of her family is a little ways away having a birthday party, Laurel sees Dorothy, her mother, who is carrying Laurel’s baby brother, stab and kill a strange man.  Due to Laurel's lies, the matter is swept under the rug with no repercussions for Dorothy.  Fast forward to present day, Laurel and her siblings are called back to their hometown to be at their dying mother's bedside.  However, Laurel desperately wants to solve the mystery of the man's murder before Dorothy passes away. 

The Secret Keeper, as are all of Morton’s books, is one giant puzzle.  Morton plays tricks on the brain, and if you don’t pay attention to each and every detail, she will get you!  There were so many little nuances and questions throughout this novel that I kept thinking to myself there was no way Morton would answer them all.  But she never, ever leaves a stone unturned.  By the time you finish, you are left with a story that completely makes sense and has you asking yourself why you didn’t see it coming all along.