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The Secret Keeper – Book Review

secretkeeperThen the knife came down, the special knife, plunging deep into the man’s chest. Time slowed; it raced. The man cried out, and his face twisted with surprise and pain and horror, and Laurel stared as his hands went to the knife’s bone handle, to where the blood was staining his shirt, as he fell to the ground, as the warm breeze dragged his hat over and over through the dust. – from The Secret Keeper, page 16 –

Laurel is a well-known English actress living in London. Her life seems idyllic. But there is a dark secret she has kept from everyone – including her three sisters and brother. When she was sixteen she witnessed a murder committed by her mother in the garden of their country home. The police believe her mother acted in self defense against a man who was presumed to be dangerous. But Laurel knows something the police do not – just before her mother raised a knife against Henry Jenkins, he spoke her name. This was no random act of violence and now nearly fifty years later, as Laurel’s mother lives out her final days, Laurel wants to uncover the secret her mother has kept all these years.

It suddenly seemed to Laurel that all the absences in her own life, every loss and sadness, every nightmare in the dark, every unexplained melancholy, took the shadowy form of the same unanswered question, something that had been there since she was sixteen years old – her mother’s unspoken secret. – from The Secret Keeper, page 71 –

Kate Morton’s fourth novel is written in her signature style with multiple points of view, riveting characters and a narrative which weaves back and forth in time. Dorothy, Laurel’s mother, lived through the London Blitz during WWII and much of the narrative takes place in that time period. But Morton also fast forwards to present day, unveiling Laurel’s emotional struggles and her quest to uncover the truth of her mother’s life. The novel is broken into four parts to reveal the stories of four major characters: Dorothy, Laurel, Vivien and Jimmy. As the novel unfolds, the puzzle of Dorothy’s life is pieced together and her darkest secret comes to light.

I have read two previous novels by this author (The House at Rivertonread my review; and The Distant Hoursread my review) and enjoyed them both. The Secret Keeper is also a well written, page turner which explores the themes of friendship, love, deception and family secrets against the backdrop of historical events. I found myself intrigued by the mystery in this novel – enough to keep me turning the last 150 pages late into the night to solve the puzzle.

Readers who enjoy historical fiction with a mystery twist, will want to pick up a copy of The Secret Keeper.




  1. January 9, 2013    

    I loved this one and thought it was a great page-turner. I liked how she revealed the details, little by little.

  2. January 9, 2013    

    I have yet to read any of Kate Morton’s novels, and yet all three on my TBR list. I must do something about this….

  3. January 10, 2013    

    I was knocked out by the twist, but prior to it, I wasn’t loving the book as much as her others!

  4. January 10, 2013    

    I have this book sitting next to me on the shelf, and now I know I need to race to get to it. I just received an audio version of one of her others from the library the other day, and I am excited to get to that one too. Morton is so popular, and all of her stories sound wonderfully gothic and dark. Excellent review on this one today!

  5. January 10, 2013    

    I can’t wait to get around to reading this! I really enjoy Morton!

  6. January 10, 2013    

    One of my goals for this year is to read at least one of her books. They always sounds so good.

  7. January 13, 2013    

    This sounds good.

  8. January 13, 2013    

    I was hooked by the outline alone. Introducing multiple perspectives just seals the deal. I’m intrigued from every angle.

  9. January 14, 2013    

    This book is #1 on my list to read for the Chunkester Challenge as well! I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet since I’ve devoured all of Kate Morton’s previous books. I highly recommend The Forgotten Garden since you haven’t read it yet — so good!

  10. January 16, 2013    

    I was disappointed in the last Morton book but liked the first two.

    I am reading this at the moment and quite liking it!

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