The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Secret Keeper

Plot Summary Part 4

Another preposterous plot twist.

As if to make the story even more ridiculous, Jimmy, who is supposed to be dead, drops by one day when Vivien isn't home. He sees Laurel and finds out that Vivien has been boned by another guy and it is too late for him to inseminate her himself. So Jimmy goes away. Apparently, when Henry said, "I have drowned Jimmy in the river" he didn't mean it, or it didn't happen, or the river dried up before Jimmy got there, I don't know, because it is never explained.

So in this very convoluted ending Dolly, the real Dolly, is worm food, and Vivien ran away from Jimmy, the man she loved, because she erroneously thought he was dead. But Vivien did get boned by another guy named Nicolson and squeezed out Laurel and two other kids between her hairy thighs, so it wasn't a total disaster. The end.

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The structure of this book is so trite, by which I mean I have seen it all before. Someone dies in chapter one. The reader is forced to spend the rest of the book figuring out why that person died. Have half the book be flashbacks which slowly reveal the story. Have the other half be set in the present where an investigator tries to figure out what happened. Here Laurel is the present-day investigator. She basically finds out nothing until the very end, so her half of the book is a complete waste of time.

I knew from the moment that Dolly killed Henry that he must be some guy who used to bone her. And guess what, I was 100% correct. I figured this out because this plot is so common. The only unusual thing about the plot was when Vivien switched identities with Dolly at the end.

Instead of forcing us to plow through 500 pages to figure out why Dolly/Vivien killed someone, why not have a story simply showing the life of Dolly or Vivien and let things unfold as they will? There is more suspense when we don't already know the end of the story. If the characters are compelling, it is not necessary to start with a murder. I felt that the entire book, centered around the murder, could have been written as a short story.

Kate Morton tried to make this a period piece with constant references to the German air bombing of London. But it was kind of laughable because Dolly basically ignored the bombings even as they happened around her. The bombings were supposed to give the story atmosphere and tension but since no one died in the bombings until the very end, it felt like a phony attempt to add drama that wasn't there.

And finally the ending felt very, very contrived to make the saddest conclusion possible. We are told Jimmy was dead but he wasn't; Vivien had to run away because of an affair she wasn't having; Dolly died acting crazy as she lived; Henry got the photo he was never intended to get by totally random chance. It's just all too unlikely, which made for a weak story.

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Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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