Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Language of Secrets, Dianne Dixon, mystery

The Language of Secrets is a tightly wound mystery, with a plot unlike any other I’ve ever run across. The entire story is unusual and grabs you immediately. The main character had moved to London to pursue a career, and remained out of touch with his immediate family. After many, many years, he returns to California and tries to reconnect. He finds his parents have died, and when he visits their graves, he sees another headstone next to them. His. Showing that he died at age four. Immediately he’s bounced into a living hell of flashbacks, waking delusions, and disquietude that infects his own marriage. He has no idea who he is and what has happened.

Thus begins this twisted and complex tale that takes you through the lives of several members of his family. It is suspenseful and anxious…so much so that I felt nauseated at times. Perhaps it was the suspense of the missing four year, nearly the same age as my own child, which made me anxious. All I can say is that this story fascinated me by just how off-the-wall it was. I read a lot, and running into an utterly unique premise is unusual.

That said, it’s apparent that this is a plot driven story rather than built on solid characters. I felt a bit cheated that some of these amazing situations came from some rather superficial characters who seemed predictable despite the unpredictable plot. Some were so shallow that I could actually foresee their actions, and others exemplified tremendous character values yet no rationale for their behavior was given. It was the characters that detracted me from the story.

The story proceeds at a quick pace, and the only other “blip” that occurred was when one character’s almost unimaginable actions were explained, in an ‘aside’ by the author, where she attempts to justify the actions in light of the socio-political values of the time period. It was only two paragraphs, but it didn’t fit. She should have been able to show those details without such an invasive explanation. It felt a bit preachy, actually, and it derailed the pace. And while she tried to account for the actions, it wasn’t sufficient to overcome the initial doubt about the behavior, and effectively made her argument less powerful.

This is a intriguing book, and one that I will share with friends. The minor flaws it has doesn’t take away from this tremendous story and fascinating plot.

Special thanks to Judy Jacoby of Doubleday for the Advanced Review Copy.
She's provided me with a copy to giveaway of this title, ending June 2, 2010. See previous post for entry requirements.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, that sounds really intriguing. I know what you mean about finding it hard to find anything *really* different anymore. Definitely adding to my list.