Book review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

On one perfect summer day in the early 1960s, Laurel Nicolson is hiding in the family tree-house avoiding a birthday picnic. She watches as her mother comes through the woods towards the house to get the family’s special birthday cake knife. Also walking towards the farmhouse is an unknown man. He crosses the fields and approaches her mother, who freezes. He says hello as if he knows her and leans in to whisper something in her ear. In a moment, her mother plunges the birthday cake knife handle-deep in his chest. And so Laurel becomes the keeper of a dark secret, of the man who came one day but didn’t leave.

Now in 2011, Laurel’s mother Dorothy is dying and driven by the dark secret she has kept to herself for decades, Laurel begins to investigate what really happened on that summer day. Who was that man, unknown to everyone except her mother? And what did he say that caused her murder him without thought or question?

Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper is an intriguing mystery novel about families, World War II and what people do in extreme situations. The novel moves back and forth between Laurel in the present day and Dorothy and her friend Vivien in London during the Blitz. As amateur sleuth Laurel uncovers information about the events of 60 years before, the reader is taken back to be told the truth behind each unfolding mystery.

This is a rich and textured novel from an internationally bets-selling author. The characters are engaging and the human dramas so real that the extremes of the emotions that rage in wartime are believable if not endearing. Morton expertly uncovers layer upon layer of story about each character and the dramas of the war, that ultimately lead to one man being killed in a field.

The Secret Keeper is an engrossing novel that will keep you guessing until the last page.I am every intention of going out and picking her Morton’s other works. Public transport friendly they may not be but they are guaranteed to be a good read.

Kate Morton’s The Secret Keeper supplied for review by the Sassi Sam website.

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