The Secrets You Keep
Sometimes a writer is savvy enough to grab the reader with the very first sentence of his or her work. This is what Kate White does in THE SECRETS YOU KEEP. Bryn Harper is the main character and narrator of her story. She is married to Guy, who is "a fixer, a solver, a person undaunted by problems that can frazzle many of us" and who can "talk to a skittish donor."
Bryn is a successful self-help author who is recovering from a devastating car accident that killed the driver, her friend, when the vehicle burst into flames. She is healing well but is haunted by strange dreams in which she is surrounded by fire and hears a man's voice telling her to wait. She is getting help from a therapist who has taught her some coping skills.
As the narrative opens, Bryn is preparing for a dinner party for two of Guy's donors and their wives. The whole evening is being catered by one of the best known services in Saratoga. Unfortunately, the owner of the company is not very friendly and quite rude to Bryn. This is not a good way to begin an evening of entertaining. She has brought two waiters with her to handle the cooking and serving; they, too, are on the mean side.
"Kate White ratchets up the suspense by not revealing the identity of the killer until the very end. It is quite a shocker, making THE SECRETS YOU KEEP a riveting psychological thriller that shows White...at the very top of her game."
At the last minute, another guest is added to the party list. Journalism professor Derek Collins said he preferred to come alone, and so he does. The morning after the party, which was a mix of small talk and jibes from one of the wives, Bryn goes to her office to retrieve $60 she put in her desk drawer. However, the money is gone, and a bunch of burned-up matches are in its place. This freaks her out, and she immediately thinks that one of the waiters must have taken the money. She hurries down to where Eve Blazer has her catering business to confront her about the money and the matches.
As the narrative continues to unfold, two murders are committed. One of the victims is Eve, and the other is Guy's executive assistant and confidant, Miranda. Both women were hit with a heavy object, in Eve's case a hatchet. Bryn finds her body, which triggers more nightmares about Paul's death in the car accident. She confides to a friend that she is having a hard time writing her next book proposal, which is overdue. Should she call Stephanie, Paul's widow?
When Guy tells Bryn that he had a drink with Eve and she "came on" to him, she is shattered. But he explains that nothing happened, and he is not interested in any other woman. Bryn is in a virtual bind. As the secrets about her husband slowly emerge, she finds herself in a very scary place. Her first book was a bestseller about making choices in life: "I've never pretended to be an expert on making choices, only someone fascinated by the decisions people make and how those decisions shape their lives." But if she tells what she now knows about Guy, how will that impact her career? She decides to confront him but is conflicted by this choice: "I know Guy's deceived me, and yet I'm not sure of anything beyond that." She hopes he is "just a liar" and nothing worse. Little by little, as secrets emerge, trust rapidly evaporates.
Kate White ratchets up the suspense by not revealing the identity of the killer until the very end. It is quite a shocker, making THE SECRETS YOU KEEP a riveting psychological thriller that shows White, the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine, at the very top of her game.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on March 23, 2017