Every Secret Thing
By: Susanna Kearsley (writing as Emma Cole)
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
‘No one lives for ever. But the truth survives us all.’
Kate Murray is deeply troubled. In front of her lies a dead man, a stranger who only minutes before had approached her wanting to tell her about a mystery, a long-forgotten murder. The crime was old, he’d told her, but still deserving of justice.
Soon Kate is caught up in a dangerous whirlwind of events that takes her back into her grandmother’s mysterious war-time past and across the Atlantic as she tries to retrace the dead man’s footsteps. Finding out the truth is not so simple, however, as only a few people are still alive who know the story…and Kate soon realises that her questions are putting their lives in danger. Stalked by an unknown and sinister enemy, she must use her tough journalistic instinct to find the answers from the past – before she has to say goodbye to her future.
Whenever I count how many novels left by Susanna Kearsley that I still have to read, I often forget this title. To be fair, this was written under a different name and it was one of her earliest books. I finally picked it up some time ago, determined to finish her backlist of books before her next novel drops 😉
Every Secret Thing feels more straight-up a mystery suspense novel than a historical fiction/romance/suspense that we’ve come to see from Susanna Kearsley. There’s still of course her trademark flashback story filled with secrets and complex relationships, but much of the story is set in the present as Kate tries to figure out what the mysterious man wanted her to investigate and how connected she was to the story. As a result, she travels to quite a number of places, from England to Canada to Portugal to the United States, always in motion lest she get caught by those who want her to stop unearthing this old mystery. I enjoyed the mystery, the characters involved (Andrew Deacon appears so unassuming to most and yet his presence in all of this is quite impressive), the bits of history about the espionage programme during World War Two and the cooperation amongst the Allies (Canada’s Camp X, for example; there’s actually a television show running right now over here about that).
As interesting as the story is, it was quite an uneven read for me. I couldn’t help but feel like some of the actions that the characters pulled off were unrealistic/implausible in this day and age, not to mention it felt like the lead character’s age felt a little too young (then again, in the span of 20 years, the role and place in life that an early to mid-20s person is radically different from before). The structure of the novel also felt kind of weird in that most of the flashbacks to World War Two and the events then with Andrew Deacon was presented in hearsay–that is, the character than Kate is talking to would explain the story but she would be narrating it to the reader. I get it why the author presented it that way–Kate after all is a journalist and from the start of the novel it’s clear that the book is supposed to be a recount of events–but it was strangely off-putting.
Despite of this, I’m glad to have gotten around to reading Every Secret Thing. It’s a much different outing from Susanna Kearsley’s later novels and whilst not as polished as her later works, it had its entertaining and heartfelt moments (the latter namely being the in the flashbacks with Andrew Deacon).