Genre Niches and A Reader's Respite's Obsession

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.

cat detective noir

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.

somehow, we don't think we'll be seeing her on Iron Chef anytime soon

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
ISBN-13: 978-0525951025
336 pages
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Date: April 2, 2009

We know, you're thorough. So we've provided some more reviews of this book for you:

Book Addiction
Jen's Book Thoughts
Bloody Hell, It's a Book Barrage!
The Bookworm
Presenting Lenore
My Friend Amy
Maw Books Blog
Dreadlock Girl Reads
Savvy Verse & Wit
Peeking Between the Pages


  1. I think genre niche is a perfect phrase. I may use it on my blog :o)

    My genre niche, right now, are early 1900s mysteries... preferably set in NYC or Boston with a female protagonist.

  2. You are a pioneer! I like this term, and yes I am obsessed with mystery/crime novels that talk about playlists and music. You'd be surpised at how many purchases I've made on iTunes as a result.

    I've read the review of this book, as well as an interview with the author, and it does sound amazing. I will be reviewing a book later this week with a similar genre niche...stay tuned.

  3. Political thrillers = not my genre (not in any niche). But I love nonfiction set in Africa and some fiction.

    Hated the McCall-Smith book I read (I'm in the minority).

    Don't tell me you liked Constant Gardener. I hated it -- both book and movie (why we tried the movie after we both disliked the book, I have no clue -- it was the only thing on HBO that night?)

  4. It sound like Paul Harris wrote that book with you in mind!

  5. Yep, I love to read Books about Books. I love to read Books Where People Move and Start Over. I love to read Books About Food.

    I call these genres. They certainly are for me.

  6. Genre-niche is perfect! I am obsessed with fictional books narrated by children ages 12 and up, usually in the south, always coming-of-age stories...a kind of "To Kill A Mockingbird" type of "genre". Absolutely my favorites!!

  7. I'm not sure I have a genre-niche. I'm very much a genre-jump-arounder. I loved The Secret Keeper - had to return it to the library because there were other holds, but I put myself right back on the waiting list so The Hubster can read it.

  8. I love the term. I don't have any genre niches that are that specific. I like any book that focuses on psychological problems, either personal or in the whole family. Or Psychological Thrillers. But that's a genre, not a genre-niche.

  9. Better than Tom Clancy -- Paul Harris is definitely a winner in your book. I enjoyed Blood Diamond, too.

    Here's to Paul & his incredible debut & intriguing the heck out of you.

  10. Genre Niche - hmm it sounds nice :)

    This book is going to my TBR pile! Like the sound of it!

    Right now I am a bit obsessed with Twilight series!

  11. I had to actually think long and hard about my genre-niche and, after careful consideration, I decided that my favorite is a memoir about mental illnes. And it has to be a memoir, writter by a person who dealt/is dealing with any kind of mental illnes (depression, bipolar, schizophrenia,etc.) as either suffering from it or living with/loving a person who is. No books written by doctors with loads of professional experience but no personal insight for me.

  12. Genre niche is great. For a while there I was picking up tons of stuff about Americans moving to Italy. Then I moved on to YA fiction written as letters/email. Sadly, I tend to collect them as much as read them.

  13. I love "genre niche." I think it will sweep the book blogging world and you should trademark it.

    I think my own preferred genre-niche is "books about people who take on various things to do for a year." One writer -- A.J. Jacobs -- almost specializes in this. He spent one year living bibilically and then another reading the Encylopedia Brittanica. In fact, now I think I will write a blog post about this and ask for any other suggestions about this particular niche. I will give you full credit for the term ... but no royalty payments.

  14. That cat picture is creepy! But this book sounds really good. Don't think I've read anything that would fit in your genre-nice yet, but I'd be interested to read this one.

  15. I meant genre NICHE. It is late, my typing is suffering!

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