The House of Secrets

The House of Secrets Book Cover The House of Secrets
Brad Meltzer, Tod Goldberg
Mystery
Grand Central Publishing
June 7, 2016
Paperback
352

A priceless book, hidden in a corpse.
A family secret, handed down through generations.
And a woman with no memory of her past.

#1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer returns with
THE HOUSE OF SECRETS

When Hazel Nash was six years old, her father taught her: mysteries need to be solved. He should know. Hazel's father is Jack Nash, the host of America's favorite conspiracy TV show, The House of Secrets.

Even as a child, she loved hearing her dad's tall tales, especially the one about a leather book belonging to Benedict Arnold that was hidden in a corpse.

Now, years later, Hazel wakes up in the hospital and remembers nothing, not even her own name. She's told she's been in a car accident that killed her father and injured her brother. But she can't remember any of it, because of her own traumatic brain injury. Then a man from the FBI shows up, asking questions about her dad-and about his connection to the corpse of a man found with an object stuffed into his chest: a priceless book that belonged to Benedict Arnold.

Back at her house, Hazel finds guns that she doesn't remember owning. On her forehead, she sees scars from fights she can't recall. Most important, the more Hazel digs, the less she likes the person she seems to have been.

Trying to put together the puzzle pieces of her past and present, Hazel Nash needs to figure out who killed this man-and how the book wound up in his chest. The answer will tell her the truth about her father, what he was really doing for the government-and who Hazel really is.

Mysteries need to be solved. Especially the ones about yourself.

 

The House of Secrets is something of a mixed bag, landing on the line between average and exciting. It almost comes close enough to standing out in the overcrowded Mystery genre but falls just a little short of the mark there. The titular House of Secrets is a television show where host Jack Nash travels the world to answer age-old questions. An entirely new mystery arises shortly after Jack’s death, which leaves his son injured and his daughter amnesic. Enter the main character: Hazel Nash. Remembering nothing of her personal life, Hazel’s near-death experience is further complicated when the FBI seeks answers about her late father. The mystery is tied to a recent murder, where a body was found Benedict Arnold’s body stuffed inside. Now this is a fairly strong premise. Unfortunately, that does make the book as a whole feel somewhat like a wasted opportunity.

Now, The House of Secrets does start off strong. In the beginning, where we readers are as clueless about what is going on as Hazel, it seems like there are so many exciting directions the story could go in. The story runs you through a maze, making you excited to find the prize at the end. Expect that does not really happen. The big reveal is often meant to be the key defining moment in practically any mystery story but the one in this book is more likely to make you go, “Oh, ok,” than, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe it!” There is plenty of interesting build-up in The House of Secrets so the early part of the book is fine, but it does fumble at the last second.

The characters are a bit so-so as well. When we Hazel is introduced, she is a completely different person than she has been for her entire life due to the amnesia. The amnesia has made her forget about anything and anyone she cares about, leaving her with little to no real empathy throughout the story. It is kind of hard to feel anything for a character who cannot feel anything. This book does jump between perspectives a bit but everyone who is not Hazel has virtually no character development. We do get some backstories that explain who they are and what kind of people they are. The issue is that everyone stays pretty stoic in who they are throughout the entire book. The plot and characters are like expecting a steak and getting a fast food burger and then you find out your fries were undercooked on top of that.

All of that may sound pretty pessimistic, but it is not enough to make The House of Secrets a bad book. It is not a stellar book, but it is not something you will think about using as kindling when you are done reading it either. The story certainly fits the Mystery genre by having a lot of questions (some of which even go completely unanswered!). Maybe if there is a sequel that expands on this story, it will be easier to view The House of Secrets in a gentler light. As a mystery, it was more entertaining than an episode of Scooby-Doo but it is not exactly a page turner. For a free book I got from a Goodreads giveaway, it was a worth the read.

November 13, 2016

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