Journalist Danny Kellerman had the opportunity to cover the civil war in Sierra Leone four years ago. He has since moved on with his life, but when a letter from his ex-girlfriend arrives pleading for help, he decides to look into it. See, Maria isn't just an ex-girlfriend she was the love of his life. And he feels she must desperately need his help.
He's shocked ,however, to learn that Maria was killed. Unable to come to peace with this due to the letter her received, he secures permission from his editor to return to Sierra Leone and investigate her death.
The country Danny returns to is different than the one he left. Can he still trust the friends he made four years ago? Can he uncover the truth about what happened to Maria? Will he be able to come to peace with his past?
For some reason, I have an affection for books that bring social issues to light in a smart story and this book totally fits that bill. Before reading The Secret Keeper I knew absolutely nothing about the country of Sierra Leone. I don't necessarily have a detailed knowledge of it now, but I do feel I understand the struggles of the people there just a little bit more.
The story is split into two timelines, telling the story of Danny's original trip to Sierra Leone and his current trip. There's plenty of motivation to keep following both stories--to understand his original relationship with Maria and why it ended, and in present day to find out what happened to Maria. I was instantly drawn into this book. I can't even tell you how rare that is for me these days, but Harris's writing instantly invites you into the story and into Danny's mind.
One of the strengths of this book is that it never gets bogged down with political detail, Harris provides just enough to understand the context of Maria and Danny's world. It also doesn't go overboard with gory details, but the few times violence does make an appearance it is used for maximum effect. There's a death in the story that was completely unsettling to me--driving home the random violence and unpredictable nature of being in a war zone.
I recommend this book for anyone who likes thrillers set in an international setting, or anyone interested in learning about Sierra Leone in a completely non-threatening way.
Things You Might Want to Know: There's some language and some violence. And a very little bit of sex.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to be on this tour. You can visit Paul Harris website, and read a fantastic interview at Maw Books Blog.