Now we know what you're thinking: what in the hell are genre-niches? A Reader's Respite fully admits to making that term up right here on the spot (we're just creative that way). It was the only term we could think of used to describe a very topic-specific book within a genre.
Are there any specific genre-niches that you all like?
For example, we know of a dedicated reader who is absolutely obsessed with any cozy mystery novel that involves a cat. That's right, it must involve a cat. Not a dog, not a horse, not even a cute pig. Only cats.
Another dear friend loves novels (any novel) that contain recipes. Themes, characters, settings all mean nothing to her. If it's fiction and there's a recipe in it, she owns it. We suspect if a porn novel involving chefs (and a recipe is printed) exists, we would find it on her shelves.
If you're suspecting that A Reader's Respite also has an obsession with a certain genre-niche, you'd be absolutely correct. We happen to have a weakness for politically-oriented thrillers set in Africa.
You see, we're fairly specific about it. Not any novel randomly set in Africa will do. (No Alexander McCall Smith for us, thankyouverymuch.) No, the novel must revolve around the political chaos that has devastated so many countries on the Dark Continent in the post-colonial world. Ever see the film Blood Diamond? Now you're getting the picture.
The not-so-great part about an obsession with a specific genre-niche is that there aren't too many books out there that fit the bill. Even less that are well-written, too. When you find one, you tend to savor it, wanting to relish every last drop of the story. At least that was what is was like for us when we recently sat down for a marathon reading session of The Secret Keeper.
Journalist-now-author Paul Harris has penned a real winner with his debut novel, The Secret Keeper. Set in Sierra Leone four years following the civil war that ultimately would claim over 50,000 lives, the story revolves around journalist Danny Kellerman. The war over, Danny is safely ensconced in London when he receives a startling letter begging for help from an ex-girlfriend, Maria, still living in Sierra Leone.
But before Danny can even figure out the meaning of the letter, Maria is found dead. Returning to Sierra Leone to find answers and battle his own demons, Danny finds himself caught up in politcal intrigue and mystery in a country still struggling to find it's place in the world.
Given Harris' past reporting as a war-correspondent in Sierra Leone, one can't help but wonder how many autobiographical tidbits made their way into the story. His ability to recreate the political climate during this time of upheaval is unrivaled in our reading experience.
This plot is absolutely fine-tuned and taut with multi-dimensional characters and a very well-painted picture of Sierra Leone. It really doesn't get much better than this, folks. Much more accessible (and believable) than Tom Clancy, if you're inclined towards thrillers, especially ones that teach you a few things along the way, The Secret Keeper will not disappoint.
This one will most assuredly be making an appearance on our Ten Best List at the end of the year.
Title: The Secret Keeper
Author: Paul Harris
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Date: April 2, 2009
We know, you're thorough. So we've provided some more reviews of this book for you:
Jen's Book Thoughts
Bloody Hell, It's a Book Barrage!
My Friend Amy
Maw Books Blog
Dreadlock Girl Reads
Savvy Verse & Wit
Peeking Between the Pages