The Secret Keeper
November 11, 2012
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I am a great fan of Kate Morton. I have read and enjoyed her previous works, The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden and The Distant Hours. The Secret Keeper (B+) is slightly less wonderful.
The Nicolson family has birthday traditions, one of which involves the cake being cut by a special knife that has a red ribbon tied around the handle. Laurel and her mother (Dolly) realize the knife was left at the house. Dolly heads off first to retrieve it. Laurel intends to do the same but has been daydreaming in the tree house just a bit too long. As she begins to move from her perch, she witnesses her mother, Dolly, kill a man. She pieces together the scenario as only a 16 year old can.
The police are summoned and it is determined that Dolly acted in self-defense, killing a man that has been haunting their neighborhood. The events of the day are kept from the younger children and Laurel is asked to keep it secret. Fast forward to 2011, Dolly is now very old and near death living in a nursing facility. The family gathers to celebrate her 90th birthday. As everyone reminisces about the past, the secret that Laurel has kept for 50 years haunts her. She needs to unravel the past events now while her mom is still alive and somewhat able to talk about it.
The “secret” takes 480 pages to be revealed. Most of what is written is not necessary to the story. This is a huge difference from what Morton has written before. There is no doubt that she is a great storyteller but The Secret Keeper dragged along at a snail’s pace. The last 50 pages were worth the read and the ending was Morton’s usual twisty/turny wonderful. There was a bit too much filler and became monotonous. I stuck with The Secret Keeper because Morton has always delivered and I expected the same now. I can’t say I was disappointed just a bit under whelmed.
I am still a strong fan of Kate Morton and I encourage you to read The Secret Keeper. It is surely worth the time it takes to get through the 480 pages and will make an excellent book club selection too.