The Secret Keeper is a prime example of why one should never abandon a book. The beginning of the story is surprisingly slow, which is unusual in one of Ms. Morton’s novels. In addition, the characters are also slow to develop. Between the two, the mystery does not immediately grab a reader’s attention, and a reader finds it difficult to maintain an interest in the basic characters. The reward comes to patient readers in the final third of the novel, when what appeared to be obvious turns out to be less so, and the one-dimensional characters evolve into full-developed characters with startling depth. The ending proves to be something of a shock, and it is only then that a reader can appreciate the subtle twists that Ms. Morton masterfully weaves into her story. It just takes reading the full novel to get to that level of appreciation.
Caroline Lee narrates all of Ms. Morton’s novels, and it is no wonder that she does. The combination of Ms. Morton’s prose, her settings, and Ms. Lee’s beautiful voice is perfect for the tone of each of her stories. She may be Australian, but her British Isles’ accents are spot-on, flowing seamlessly from local dialects to Irish, low-brow, high-brow, and back again. In The Secret Keeper, Ms. Lee goes one extra step and uses an accent for each of the story’s narrators as well as during the dialogue scenes. It makes for a well-rounded audio experience that eliminates much of the confusion that may occur because of the multiple narrator changes. In addition, her precise delivery enhances the nuanced details of the story, proving once again that the duo of Ms. Lee and Ms. Morton is always a worthy listening experience.
Because the novel starts out so slowly and the characters do not lose their flatness until a good two-thirds into the story, The Secret Keeper is not one of Ms. Morton’s best. However, since all of Ms. Morton’s novels are better than the average novel, this is by no means a bad thing. The story’s resolution is as fitting as it is surprising, and the ride getting there is half the fun. The glimpses into London during the Blitz are fascinating in the sense of survival and typical stiff upper lip exhibited by the residences, while the characters are every bit as realistic as one might expect from the author. It may not be her best, but The Secret Keeper is still a welcome diversion and worth the time and patience.