I’m a huge fan of Michael Robotham, the Sydney-based Aussie author, and was surprised it’s actually been two years since his last book was released here in Australia. Close Your Eyes was the eighth in the popular Joe O’Loughlin series and the year before that Robotham won a fistful of crime fiction awards for his standalone book, Life Or Death (which I adored!).
As it happens, I’m going to hear him speak at the Maleny Book Festival (Celebration of Books) next Sunday and think the trip there (which is over twice as long as his session) will be well worth it.
The Secrets She Keeps
by Michael Robotham
Published by Hachette Australia
on July 11th 2017
Source: Hachette Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Everyone has an idea of what their perfect life is. For Agatha, it's Meghan Shaughnessy's.
These two women from vastly different backgrounds have one thing in common - a dangerous secret that could destroy everything they hold dear.
Both will risk everything to hide the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in a shocking act that cannot be undone.
I should flag that there’s a pretty big twist part-way through this novel and I love not having to wait until the end to be shocked. We kinda know something’s coming so it’s not completely a surprise but, once it happened I must admit I was worried. In my head the rest of the novel was going to be too predictable as we already know how it’s going to play out.
There was no cause for worry however as I lapped up the unfolding narrative (second half) and ‘needed’ to keep reading until the end. Even though we know what’s coming, or even what ‘might’ happen it’s like the proverbial train crash. We cannot look away. We’re invested by then and – if other readers are anything like me – we’re worried about everyone involved.
So the plot is nice and twisty but the strength of this book is in its characters. I love me some complex grey-like characters… people are rarely all-good or all-bad and Robotham most certainly provides us with an array of greyness. I actually quite like an unreliable narrator and I’ve read a few books of late in which we’re not entirely sure how much we can trust the storyteller. But we’re in the heads of both Meg and Agatha and both are brutally honest with us. And themselves… and we’re privy to their innermost ponderings and angst.
It means we also know their secrets about their less-than-perfect lives; and the lies they’ve told out of love and desperation.
And then there’s Meg’s husband, the enigmatic Jack, and Agatha’s partner Hayden… both of whom end up surprising us.
We’re provided with snippets from their past – well, in particular Agatha’s, who hasn’t had an easy life and Robotham ekes out her backstory and we kinda understand why she is the way she is.
I think I’d make a good spy because I’m gloriously bland, as adaptable as water, able to flow into spaces and settle into cracks, becoming so smooth and still that I reflect my surroundings. I learned how to do that as a child, when I was rarely seen and less often heard. p80
There’s the obvious reflection on motherhood and an assumption of its inevitability for most women. As someone who doesn’t have children (but wanted them) I know the subject can be fraught. And certainly Robotham nails society’s presumptuousness about motherhood and the notion of it being seen as a gift as if it’s a reward for a hard-fought battle. (Which I realise it sometimes is!) But of course the flipside of that is the fact that many don’t receive the reward – no matter how worthy they might well be.
It’s a reminder of sorts that we’re all an incident or two away from desperation. (There but for the grace of god etc etc.)
This is the sort of book that stays with you long after you’ve closed the cover and is sure to be a hit with fans and critics alike.
The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham will be published in Australia by Hachette and available from 11 July 2017.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.