Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Review: The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris

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.

Rating: 4.5/5
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.



Teresa said...

Nice review. Thanks fot the giveaway link.

bermudaonion said...

I like books that highlight social issues too! This one sounds terrific.

LisaMM said...

Hi Amy! Excellent review! I'm so glad you liked The Secret Keeper. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and review it!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like it would make a really good movie plot!

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

I didn't read your review too closely b/c I was afraid of spoilers - I'm in the middle of this right now and REALLY enjoying it. As you mentioned, it brings social issues to the front without being preachy ... sort of like the way historical fiction teaches you about history while still drawing you into the story. Good point!

Jenn's Bookshelves said...

Thanks for the review! I MUST get my hands on a copy of this book! It's right up my alley!

Blodeuedd said...

Good grade indeed. I will keep this book in mind after your review.

Btw I left an award for you over at my blog

Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble with the out of focus cover, but I'm still putting it on the list.

Have fun in NY!!!

Literary Feline said...

I really enjoyed this one too, Amy. Like you, I like books that bring social issues to light. And I felt this one did it in a smart way. Great review!

Unknown said...

I love how you included "things you might want to know." I always try to include that info on books (about explicit sex or language), but I'm never quite sure how to do it without seeming either puritanical or judgmental, because I know that I like to know . . .

In fact, I passed on this book when the author offered it to me, even though it looked interesting, because there was pretty strong language in the excerpt on the website and I was borderline on my interest anyway.

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