I still don’t have the brain capacity or mood stability for heavy books, so the next few reviews you will see are going to be a little off center. I love mysteries, and my taste usually tends toward the sprawling British or Irish tales (with plucky girl detectives, obviously) or back to moody period mysteries (with detectives that have been or will be played by Benedict Cumberbatch) or your basic Christie-esqe classics for nostalgia and, as a struggling writer, just to admire the intricacies of plot for a bit.
Recently I turned to Kate White, who you could not put into any of those categories but I still enjoy for her feisty American amateur detectives. Her protagonists generally have amazing jobs that I am jealous of and live in New York. Her latest, The Secrets You Keep, is being called a psychological thriller – and for once that is not code for Trying to be the Next Gone Girl, thank God. However, I have read too damn many books in the TTBTNGG genre lately to settle into the fact that this was just a fairly straightforward mystery novel and there was not going to be some gruesome torture reveal. Oh, what hath Gillian Flynn wrought?
In Secrets, we have our plucky American heroine, Bryn Harper, in recovery mode after a terrible car accident which killed her colleague and of which she has no memory (DUN DUN DUNNNNNNNN) so immediately I am all in. She is newly married to Guy (whom we immediately know through our reading scars cannot be who he says he is) and they are in a commuter marriage – she is a writer in NY City and he works on funding for an opera company in Saratoga – where they see each other on weekends. Because of her recovery, Bryn decides to move upstate for the summer to get better and start on a new book.
Bryn is haunted by dreams of the accident, which she believes are giving her clues as to what happened that day. A bunch of disturbing incidents happen that are weird enough to scare her but not weird enough to be explained away by her husband, who is exhausted by the ongoing trauma in Bryn’s life because he is an ass. Then, directly after a dinner party at their house, a woman who was hired to cater is killed (with an ax in the head! I mean, old school fun! I know I should not find glee in these things! I’m in therapy, don’t worry!) and then shit starts to spiral everywhere.
So we go through the usual tropes of finding out whom we can trust and whom we definitely cannot. And as a reader, Bryn will frustrate the hell out of you because she does not have the advantage that we do of a universal narrative, so she probably reacts appropriately and you should think about cutting back on the thrillers, okay?
All in all, it’s a pretty fun book if you’re in the mood for a mystery/thriller in which people can be terrible but aren’t caricatures of monsters and there’s probably no way Benedict Cumberbatch will play Guy in a movie one day but it will get you quite happily through a weekend.
The Secrets You Keep – Grade B