Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Secret Keeper by Dorien Grey

Synopsis From The Back Cover:

What happens when you take a 90-year-old multi-millionaire, add his dysfunctional and greedy family, a garden, a private detective's good-natured partner, a questionable suicide, a missing will, and a secret passed on without the recipient's knowledge?  Why, book #13 in the popular Dick Hardesty Mystery series, of course.

When Clarence Bement's death is ruled a suicide, his grandson Mel doesn't believe it, and hires PI Dick Hardesty to prove it was murder.  There's no lack of suspects, given Bement's less-than-cordial relationship with most of his offspring, and when rumor arises he'd made a new will before his death it provides a reason why someone likely wanted him dead.

It's up to Hardesty to find out the truth, and unravel the tangled secrets that may be putting the ones he loves in deadly danger.

I've been dreading this review for a while because this was another book I really wanted to like, but I didn't.  I'm not even sure I could say I tolerated it.  It was actually painful to read, wincing occurred.  So this review will be rather short, because I really don't have much of anything nice to say about it.

Now maybe I was wanting to like this book for all the wrong reasons.  As a gay man and a mystery lover, it probably comes as no surprise that I enjoy mysteries where the protagonist is a good looking guy who happens to like other good looking guys.  I've been reading them since high school and when they are good, such as those written by Joseph Hansen, Mark Richard Zubro, Michael Nava, R.D. Zimmerman, and Richard Stevenson, they are fantastic.  They capture the imagination and pull you into the story, this book did not.

With a pen name like Dorien Grey and a main character with the name of Dick Hardesty, I would have assumed that I would love the book.  I was expecting wit and style that was sorely lacking, actually it was completely missing.  What hurt so much, was the missed opportunity this book displayed to me.  The plot, while not all that original, was well thought out and believable and characters are well conceived, but are so one dimensional, you really don't care about anything that happens to them.  The bare bones of a good story were there, unfortunately I have to chalk it up to bad writing.

Nothing about the writing felt like it was well planned out or even revised from a first draft.  There are these odd breaks in the story were one section end and another starts.  They read, especially the first part of the book, almost like journal entries.  I'm pretty sure they weren't supposed to be though.  It threw the pacing of the book off kilter and I was never really able to get into any sort of rhythm while reading it.

If anyone would like to explore what good gay mystery writing is, please check out some books by the authors I listed earlier.  Leave this book alone.


Dorien Grey said...

I can't tell you how sorry I am you so heartily disliked "The Secret Keeper," Ryan, but I appreciate your candor and respect your opinion. With 13 books now in the Dick Hardesty series, and the third book in the Elliott Smith series coming up, I hope you might find one you like.

Best regards,

Dorien Grey

Staci said...

I think it's pretty awesome that the author stopped by and thanked your for your candor and respected your opinion on this book. Maybe he'll take a few of the items you mentioned to heart and you'll find his next one more enjoyable!!

Heidenkind said...

Aw, I'm sorry it didn't work for you!

bermudaonion said...

Too bad this was such a disappointment.

Dorien Grey said...

I was surprised, but pleased, to see so many responses to my note to Ryan on his negative review of "The Secret Keepers." I'm sure Ryan would agree that not everyone might share his opinion. While I debated on mentioning it, I hope he won't mind my pointing out that the 13 book Dick Hardesty series has been a 4-time finalist for a Lambda Literary Award.

Again, thank you all for your comments...and especially Ryan, for instigating this thread.

Best regards,


Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Ryan - sorry to hear the book didn't work out for you. I know you really was hoping to really like it.

Dorien - I am glad to see you stopped by. Sometimes authors don't comment or acknowledge reviews if someone doesn't like the book. I respect you for stopping by.

Laurel-Rain Snow said...

Thanks for your review, Ryan, and for courageously pointing out your thoughts. What is important to note is that you very clearly specified the aspects of the book that you found problematic.

These kinds of constructive criticisms are invaluable, I think.

Carol said...

Great, honest review. Did you read the others in the series first, or start with this one? Just wondering, because sometimes that does seem to make a difference.

bookmagic said...

Ryan- I felt the same way, had high hopes but it didn't get close. no author drop by for my review- mine may have been way harsh. Better go reread!

bookmagic said...

Nope not harsh at all. I can be brutal though.

Dorien Grey said...

Bookmagic: It's possible I somehow did not see your review of "The Secret Keeper," and would appreciate a link to it.

I do try, whenever there is a way to contact the reviewer, to acknowledge the review and thank him/her for their opinion. Being a reviewer is often a thankless job, and while I may not agree with a specific review, I respect it as long as I feel the reviewer is fair and sincere.