Book Review: The Secret Field
Reviewed by Manik Chaturmutha
A gripping mystery with bold characters and sharp descriptions
The Secret Field by Susan Dennis is one of the best mystery-thrillers I have ever read. Let me tell you why.
After losing both her job and her father, Kari, an underconfident loner, shifts from a one-bedroom home to a farm in the countryside. She leaves her mother, who has given her nothing but trauma in a facility for the old.
Kari mostly keeps to herself until one night, two aggressive dogs with devilish intent chase and attack her and her two corgi dogs. As she tries to save one of her dogs from death at the hands of the vicious hound, she gets bitten. Then, a high-pitched call causes the devil dogs to leave them.
Someone obviously owned the dogs that had attacked her. So, after rushing home from the bloody encounter, she thinks of reporting the crime to the sheriff. Only two people live near her house—a relatively old couple, Joe and Marty. But she soon discovers her new neighbor is as dangerous as his dogs.
There is an excellent and easy flow to this novel. It keeps the readers engaged and constantly wanting more, yet never overwhelming them to escape. The story unfolds at a smooth pace, quite comfortable for the reader.
The narrative is easy to follow, yet not too easy to become uninteresting. We dive directly into the thrilling story without delay. Classic tropes of crime thrillers, like two sides of narration running parallel, are employed in this novel. The parallel storylines converge at a few points in the book and add greatly to the story’s overall appeal.
The characters are well-constructed and fully developed. They are intricately connected by their land, history, and law. No person that is part of the story ever breaks character; they are indeed true to their roles.
The descriptions are vivid, making us feel the creepiness instead of just seeing it. The land where most of the plot unfolds can be visualized clearly through the strong descriptions. I don’t usually discuss descriptions as part of the excitement of a suspense thriller, but with The Secret Field, I can’t help it.
New things are revealed in every chapter. The unexpectedness of events make this story dynamic and thrilling. For example, the ferocious dogs play a chilling part each time they arrive. Despite carefully placed hints, the end doesn’t become predictable. Instead, there is a nice twist that hits readers right when they don’t expect it.
The representation is good as well. We need more smart female detectives in our thriller fiction, and author Susan Dennis gives us a great one here.
The Secret Field is a captivating blend of emotions, legalities, history, myth, drama, and thrilling events. Quite the all-around package if you ask me. I strongly recommend this fascinating read to all mystery lovers!
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense
Print Length: 336 pages
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