Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Secret Keeper - Paul Harris

Caveat: in my reading, I tend to shy away from anything that resembles real life too closely; what I'm trying to get across is, I am biased against this book from the start.  
With that said, it was a fun read.  In the very first chapter of the book, the author shows you where the protagonist is going to end up, and you have to spend the rest of the book wondering how he'll get there, which makes for an effective build-up of suspense.  All the characters are well put together and internally consistent, and the ending manages to both surprise and satisfy.
However, there are some things that don't fit very well.  Paul Harris does an excellent job of painting a picture of Sierra Leone: desperate yet hopeful, dark, wartorn.  The storyline that takes place there is very powerful.  However, it isn't the only storyline, and this is where the novel fails.  The protagonist's story switches between flashbacks to the year 2000, when he was in Sierra Leone reporting on the war (interesting and moving), his visit to Sierra Leone in the present day (interesting and mysterious), and his time in England in the present day, spent arguing with his girlfriend and his father. (completely unnecessary).  I understand that the third strand in the story is supposed to help develop the protagonist's character, but such development is unneeded.  The main character's actions in Sierra Leone would be completely understandable without us having to listen to his fiance whine at him.
Overall, a good book.  I wish Mr. Harris a successful career, though I will not be reading any more of his novels, unless he suddenly starts writing science fiction/fantasy/alternate history.

1 comment:

moonrat said...

Sierra Leone, eh? Hmm, I'm not a mystery/suspense reader, either, but you give this an interesting spin.