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The Secret Keeper

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  114 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
One man's search for the truth in war-torn Sierra Leone, where the rules of civilized society don't apply...

Journalist Danny Kellerman receives an urgent letter from an ex-lover in Sierra Leone, where he once was a war correspondent. But it's already too late; she's been murdered in a roadside robbery. Danny returns to Freetown, where his investigation uncovers secrets t
Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Plume (first published March 31st 2009)
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Jul 24, 2009 Serena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anna horner,
The Secret Keeper by Paul Harris does not read like a debut novel, but like a well-engineered corkscrew ride through the African heat and the deep recesses of our humanity and morality.

In the early 1990s, civil war began in Sierra Leone--a former British colony ripe with diamond mines--as rebels recruited students and children to fight against the government for more than a decade. The brutality present in the nation at this time comes across vividly in the pages of The Secret Keeper, which read
Feb 19, 2010 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
War time journalist, Danny Kellerman receives a letter in the mail from an ex-lover. Her name is Maria Consuela Tirado. Maria worked in Africa as an aid worker. Inside the envelope is a note from Maria asking for Danny’s help. Unfortunately as Danny is reading the letter, Maria is already dead.

Danny books the first flight out of London to Africa. He has to know what happened to Maria. Once in Africa, Danny is greeted by an old friend, Kam. When Danny learns that Maria was murdered, his reporter
Jun 20, 2009 Jen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, male-author
When Danny Kellerman first receives a letter requesting help from Maria Tirado, his former lover from Sierra Leone, he's inclined to blow it off. After all Maria is the one who chose Sierra Leone over Danny. He hadn't heard a word from her in four years and now he was happily ensconced in a new relationship with a wonderful woman. But when his curiosity about the letter he received three weeks after it was dated gets the better of him, he begins to investigate it. It is only natural; as a journa ...more
Richard Bradley
Apr 11, 2010 Richard Bradley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
British ad hoc-war journalist in Sierra Leone. A love story. A travel book. Humanitarian volunteers. Expats. Mercenaries. The media. Much despair. Much blood. Much pain. Much beauty. Much joy. Much hope.

I felt quesy when I was struck with the knowledge of who the torturer must be, the last part of the way through the book, as the story began to go down a terrible road that would never admit a sane or safe return. Wait, now I know the reason why, as well. (The author had to spoon-feed the knowled
Jun 14, 2009 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! A great first book for this author. Must be read in chunks to get the full-effect. Worth every page! I could not put it down: love + mystery + historical fiction==a must-read! I had to give it five-stars b/c 4stars did not seem to be enough. Let me know what you think about it~~
Feb 08, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 03, 2009 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read , and very informative about the civil war in Sierra Leon and the "boy soldiers" taken from their families to murder at random. It's an A/A+.
Wendy Hines
THE SECRET KEEPER opens with a torture scene and quickly grabbed my attention. Not that I like torture, but the fact I wanted to know the why and the who and the what had me up late turning the pages.

British Journalist Danny Kellerman was sent to Sierra Leone four years ago. A place where rebels rule, it was simplistic and cruel. There, he fell in love with American Maria, a relief worker who aids and rescues children. But when the fighting was over, Danny returned to England without Maria.

Jun 05, 2009 Wendy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have gotten fairly good at choosing books that I know I will like. Occasionally I come across a book that proves to be disappointing, but, fortunately, that was not the case with Paul Harris’ The Secret Keeper. Far from it. The novel held me in suspense throughout and had me thinking of it even when I was unable to read. I even dreamt of Sierra Leone one night; I was stopping at checkpoint after checkpoint on my way out of Freetown for a purpose I did not know.

Danny Kellerman at least had a pu
Wisteria Leigh
Feb 23, 2009 Wisteria Leigh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Secret Keeper[return][return]Harris doesn t waste any time shocking you into a compelling need to continue as the opening chapter captivates your attention to read on. The Secret Keeper is a transcontinental consummate adventure thriller traversing between London and Sierra Leone. In London, Danny Kellerman receives a cryptic letter of desperation from his ex-lover Maria. He is a journalist who four years earlier reported on the political upheaval in Sierra Leone where he met Maria. The post ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In The Secret Keeper, British journalist, Danny Kellerman gets an assignment in war torn Sierra Leone, West Africa. It's the opportunity of a lifetime. While there, Danny meets a woman named Maria Tirado. In Sierra Leone, the RUF (Revolutionary United Front) has taken over and rules with brutality, senselessly murdering and torturing. Maria operates an orphanage for child soldiers. She helps children who where made to join the RUF were turned into murderers and had no way to get back home.

Sep 28, 2012 Liz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-star
A journalist gets a letter requesting his help from a girl he had fallen in love with in Sierra Leone in 2000, back when he was covering the war. Abandoning his current girlfriend and family, he sets out to help her, only to discover that she has been killed. Her death leads him on a hunt for the truth in Sierra Leone, where bad people are in control. This book was hard to put down. I never knew what was going to happen next - incredible flow during the chapters. There is a lot of back and forth ...more
Cathy Wilcox
Jan 24, 2016 Cathy Wilcox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book takes place in Sierra Leone between 2000 and 2004. The descriptions captured me and felt very authentic. I was constantly reminded of my years in Togo West Africa.

It is a mystery told by a journalist. Very interesting, suspenseful and sometimes moving.
Freda Labianca
Jul 11, 2010 Freda Labianca rated it liked it
This is one of those stories that some will love and others will find it too emotional to bear. It touches on subjects that, I find, are taboo over here in my country. You don't hear enough about the wars in Africa, the diamond mines, or the politics, and this book touches on all of it.
I really loved the story, though it took me a while to read. It was the nature of the tale that I had to get through. I hate knowing these stories are fiction here, but happen in real life, and there is not much w
Jun 21, 2013 Vivian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book jumps back and forth between the past and present so one has to pay attention to what is going on. Having read quite a few books about Africa and her wars/power struggles, I was prepared for evil and corruption. There was certainly plenty in this story. Throughout the entire book, the reader is kept on the edge, not totally sure about who is trustworthy and who is behind a façade. The book ending is probably closer to reality than what one would hope...when faced with two bad choices, D ...more
Feb 25, 2016 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is actually a good story but it is written by a career journalist rather than a novelist. In this case, it leaves nearly every page wanting for detail. I also got the impression that it was written by a man (it was) for men as a target audience. 2 1/2 stars
May 02, 2010 Juha rated it liked it
Recommends it for: thriller friends with a sense of recent African history.
This thriller takes place during and in the aftermath of the Sierra Leone civil war. Like the author, the protagonist is a British journalist who gets drawn deeper into the conflict than he would have liked. His obsessiveness and self-righteousness are a bit annoying, but on the whole the novel is a good read with plenty of action, suspense and local color.
Paul Heidebrecht
I can't resist novels about Africa but while this Sierra Leone-based story is an improvement on Blood Diamonds, it continues a tradition of Westerners working out their identity crises in Africa while the Africans get stuck with bit parts and stereoptypical roles. Harris has a great move script here and there are even a few redemptive moments.
Jul 04, 2009 Maria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good, but some of the scenes he witnesses/describes are so disturbing they are difficult to shake. I thought it was pretty engagin, but the bok jumps back and forth between two different times and when reading short sections, it could be difficult to remember where you were. Still I thought it was a very interesting story.
Fabienne Bogle
Jan 13, 2013 Fabienne Bogle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A difficult book to read, but well written. I feel an obligation to read literature that expand my understanding of how the world is different from my own experience. The fact that the author himself was a war correspondent in Africa lend legitimacy to his novel.
Feb 04, 2010 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a well-written glimpse into the politics and corruption of Sierra Leone. Engaging story-line. I'd like to think that literary license resulted in exaggerated reporting of events, however I suspect that such things and worse make up the region's history.
I found this story to be much more compelling than I had anticipated. Harris's story of murder, espionage, and manipulation within war-ravaged Sierra Leone is a real page turner. Not the most elegant prose, but a good narrative plot.
Feb 13, 2013 Renee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is REALLY good for many reasons,
EXCEPT it has some horrifying things in it AND
it uses the worst cuss word we have over and over again : (
Apr 09, 2009 Cheryl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Read as an ARC for review. The constant shifting of time was confusing. There was not enough difference to allow me to know which year I was in.
May 18, 2009 Suey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm hosting this book and author on my blog in a couple of weeks. Be sure to visit then to see what I liked and didn't like about this book!
Sep 06, 2010 Mari rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was really interesting and kept me turning the pages, but the ending was a lot less dramatic then I was expecting.
Jul 21, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good story however at times slowed and it was tough to keep reading over all it was good and I did like the surprise ending
Jun 20, 2009 Suziqoregon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, library
My blog post about this book is at this link.
Nancy Wieme
I couldn't get past the first 30 pages. I rarely give up on a book, but this one was just not my idea of a fun read!
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Paul Harris is currently the US Correspondent of the British weekly newspaper The Observer, the world’s oldest Sunday newspaper. He has held the post since 2003. Prior to that he reported from Africa for the Daily Telegraph, the Associated Press and Reuters. He has covered conflicts and trouble spots all around the world, including Iraq, Sudan, Burundi, Somalia, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Pakistan ...more
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