"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather, and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know." - John Keats

"You're not allowed to say anything about books because they're books and books are, you know, God." - Nick Hornby

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Review #58: Keep No Secrets, by Julie Compton

The mark of a good sequel is that it can be read on its own, and Keep No Secrets is a good sequel. I didn't know that the first book - Tell No Lies - existed until I hopped on Amazon, and now I wish I had read that first.

Secrets picks up four years after Lies ended, with District Attorney Jack Hilliard continuing to repair his professional and personal life after the discovery of a brief extra-marital affair nearly derailed his career and marriage. In the opening pages, the other woman - Jenny Dodson - reappears, and his eldest son's girlfriend Celeste accuses him of sexual assault. With his reputation already damaged by the affair with Jenny, he knows that his claims of innocence aren't believable, but he has no choice but to let the legal system work itself out.

The did he or didn't he storyline involving Celeste is interesting, and the effect it has on his relationship with his son - who hasn't broken up with Celeste but who doesn't exactly believe her either - is heartbreaking. But what really got to me was watching Jack's relationship with his wife disintegrate.

I've read a lot of books where the collapse of a marriage is a central theme, but rarely have I come across an author who can so clearly articulate what it feels like to have your marriage fall apart. Compton competently captures the feeling of hopelessness, of slowly realizing you're married to a stranger, of still wanting comfort from the very person who is huting you most. And she understands, in a way that few people do, that the affair is not the end of the marriage. It's a symptom, definitely, but it's not the disease.

Keep No Secrets was not an easy read. It was uncomfortable, and at times it was unbearably sad, but it kept me guessing until the end. Highly recommended.

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