Beth, Savannah, GA (Savannah GA)
Didn't Work for Me
I just couldn't get excited about this book. I love thrillers and particularly enjoy debut authors and thought the journalistic perspective and exotic locale would make a special book. And Harris tried. He really tried, but I think he's still more of a journalist than a novelist and never made me care about the characters or the story line. Even though things got pretty exciting toward the end, "Secret Keeper" just didn't work for me.
Phoenix (Eclectic AL)
Civil War in Sierra Leone
The action begins on line one and does not let up until the surprise ending. Through the dialogue of the characters and the use of flashbacks, Harris gives the reader a realistic view of the war and the continued corruption and disloyalty after peace is declared.
The protagonist, Danny, faces many conflicts. As a journalist, he was in Africa to report on the war. During this time, he met Maria who had a passion for helping the child soldiers. He received a letter from her four years later stating that she was in serious trouble. He returns to Sierra Leone to find that the citizens have adopted "a new set of survival skills". The atrocities of war continue to disrupt daily life in this village. The friends he met during the war, Kam and Ali, join Danny in his quest for Maria and the protection of her secret.
This is a fast-paced thriller you do not want to miss.
Shelby (Hamden CT)
In the hands of a better writer this could be a great first novel rather than just average. The author's style reminds me of the repeat novels of many of today's mass produced authors, full of cliche and soppy sentiment.
It's not that the plot isn't good and you do get a good sense of the characters and life in war torn Sierra Leone but the writing got in the way of my fully enjoying this novel. If I didn't feel a commitment to finish it I would have closed it mid-sentence and moved on.
Gerald (Pompton Lakes NJ)
A well-crafted fast moving first novel
This is a well-crafted fast moving first novel dealing with an African country between 2000 and 2004. Although it is fiction I have no doubt that everything in the book could have, and probably did happen. The main characters are appealing and the villains are appropriately cold-blooded. There are enough twists and turns to satisfy any adventure genre reader. I did find some continuity problems in the switching from 2000 to 2004 in every other chapter. I'll never think of "long-sleeved or short-sleeved" in the same way again.
Eileen (Pittsford NY)
The aftermath of war
This book has all the makings of a compelling novel. It is clearly written and contains an intriguing mixture of war journalists, child soldiers, corrupt officials and blood diamonds. Sadly, it doesnt quite live up to its promising premise. I found it difficult to sympathize with any of the characters and at no point was I tempted to skip ahead to find out what was going to happen. However, it does raise enough interesting questions that it would make a great discussion book.
Patricia (New Canaan CT)
Read it in one sitting
This novel moves back and forth between 2000 and 2004 in the US and Sierra Leone as a civil war rages - one that we all read about in the newspapers. This spell binding book brings the history to life as Danny, the American journalist, discovers that what's on the surface belies the secrets hidden away and tries to find the answers. I was caught up in this well written first novel and read it in one sitting, feeling the oppressive wall of heat, the restlessness and corruption of many of the characters, and the sacrifices of others. The Secret Keeper brings to life what the newspapers didn't and would make a great movie. I look forward to more novels by Paul Harris.
Ruth Harris (Tyrone GA)
I had my doubts about liking this book - Sierra Leone, murder and child soldiers, but the author does an excellent job of capturing the readers interest immediately. The Secret Keeper is a fast read with interesting characters and a satisfying conclusion. Well done!