Two Can Keep A Secret is an engaging crime thriller that gradually builds up tension with an ending that will surprise you.
I decided to read this book because it was on the Goodread’s most awaited books of the year. In the beginning we meet Ellery and Ezra at the airport. They are twins whose mother crashes her car into a jewelry store and is put into a rehab center for four weeks, forcing them to spend this time with the only relative they know, their grandmother Nora who they call Nana.
Nana lives in Echo Ridge, a picturesque town near the Canadian border, an ordinary town with a notorious history of two crime cases that never get solved: the murder of the high school’s homecoming queen Lacey and the disappearance of Nana’s daughter Sarah.
When Ellery and Ezra arrive in town, there has been another murder. A recent hit-and-run involving a popular science teacher Mr.Bowman. This leaves the entire town in grief. The town hasn’t fully recovered when within a few days messages start popping up on signboards and buildings that hint that the killer of Lacey is back and this time he/she is after one of the three girls nominated for the award of homecoming queen. While two of those nominations are popular residents, Katrin and Brooke, Ezra who has been there for only two weeks finds herself as the third person in the court which many suspect has been rigged. The rest of the story investigates the cases of the past and the connection to the recent happenings as on one hand the police investigate the case and on the other hand Ellery starts looking for answers.
I liked two things about this book: the characters and the gradual story buildup. Using characters we can relate to, the novel is able to engage the reader. It creates this impression that we are reading about real people and that this a real story i.e. you are able to connect very quickly with the characters.
The story is told from the perspectives of Ezra and Malcolm. Malcolm’s brother was a prime suspect in Lacey’s murder and this creates a bad reputation that their family is never able to get rid of. ”…like everything my brother did, actual and alleged settled over me when I was twelve years old and still weighs me down. I became Declan Kelly’s brother before I got a chance to be anything else,and sometimes it feels like that’s all I’ll ever be”.
Ellery, on the other hand, has problems of her own. Her mother (Sarah’s sister) left Echo Ridge right after her sister’s disappearance and tried to cut all ties with the town. She also made sure to tell her kids as little as possible about her past. This creates questions that keep troubling Ellery. This curiosity coupled with her love for true crime stories is what leads her to take a proactive approach in the investigations.
One important theme that is found throughout is the inability of people to move on after tragic incidents because they accuse themselves of negligence, they think that somehow if they had acted different or had been in a different place, they would have been able to save their loved one. This guilt weighs down on them and makes them emotionally unstable. Through the story,the author hints that we can find peace only by talking to other people and forgiving ourselves for something we are not guilty of. The other theme is of the value of friendship and love. It is what helps the people stay strong in the face of uncertainty, grief, and fear.
While the story has relatable characters, a gradual buildup of tension, and important themes, it does fall short when it comes to making good use of its 321 pages. I think the author made me, the reader, ask a lot of questions about the characters and their lives as the story built up but she did not reveal much about them. Most of the writing focused on putting the pieces of the investigation together. We are told things about Malcolm’s past but when it comes to other characters like Mia and Ezra, they seem to be there just for moving the story forward. A little bit of history here and there would have been great.
To sum it up, a good story that left me wanting more information about the characters and more depth to the story.