Review of The Secrets She Keeps, by Michael Robotham

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The Secrets She Keeps was one of those unfortunate books that I really liked till I didn’t. To have an experienced thriller writer working ‘chick-lit’ or ‘women’s fiction’ (I always feel that I’ve climbed over the fence into the back garden when I read a domestic, a genre I quite love) is an original treat & Robotham (a very easy name to remember – I always think of R2D2 + a smoked porcine leg joint) does the job quite up to Tammy Cohen or Julia Crouch standard. For about the 1st half – till the baby disappears, I was wholly engaged. But then the story sagged. Desperate remedies to keep our attention, such as making baby get sick (remarkably recovers without treatment when that that hook is surplus to requirements) & producing new characters out of the villain’s backstory on demand, including an inconvenient ex, a mum, & some unpleasant Jehovah’s Witnesses, all failed. In the final section, the author reverts to his default genre – thriller mode. The Imperial War Museum & the Greenwich Maritime Museum were nicely prepared early in the story to be used later, as was the firearm needed as a prop. Somewhere in the story the villain’s unpleasant boyfriend also acquired a commission as an RN officer, but we’re not told his rank. There was also an unnecessary (& unpleasant) pair of adulterous liaisons provided that were wholly gratuitous and unrelated to the missing baby plot. But my principal difficulty was with the villain, who obviously is several sandwiches shy of a picnic but is required by the plot to be a brilliant schemer, a magnificent actor capable of keeping a cool head in a crisis and a genius at disguises. Surely anyone with such gifts and talents could manage a better career than stocking shelves in a supermarket. Yet also too clueless to have a plan in place if asked the name of the baby’s midwife or GP, or provide a convincing place of birth. So I’d rank this one as a high three star. Once again, I let appetite & impulse carry me away and broke my resolution to eschew throw-away fiction & to spend time only on books with characters worthy of love & attention.

 

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