Select one of the keywords
Game of Secrets    by Dawn Tripp order for
Game of Secrets
by Dawn Tripp
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2012 (2011)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Dawn Tripp's Game of Secrets (set in a small New England town) is a lyrical novel, driven by secrets that the characters (friends and relatives) seem to tiptoe around. They wonder about answers but never ask outright. Rather, they pursue them as if it's all a game. There is a bit of mystery (the identity of a killer) but the complex relationships between characters drive this novel, not that minor puzzle.

Jane Weld loved her father Luce, despite his separation from her mother (because of his relationship with his mistress, Ada Varick) and his bad reputation as a 'bootlegger turned poultry thief.' She lived for their outings together. Luce disappeared in 1957 when Jane was eleven and his remains were found three years later with a bullet hole in the skull. Everyone believed that Ada's abusive husband Silas had shot him.

The story opens in 2004 when Jane's estranged daughter Marne has returned from California, after a call from her brother Alex. Marne is strongly attracted to Ada's son Ray, but conflicted by the fact that she believes his father killed her grandfather. Marne also dislikes the fact that her mother is still 'trekking over to the Council on Aging every Friday, still in thrall to Ada and their games.' They play weekly Scrabble together but there's a lot underlying their selection of words in the game.

The tale moves back and forth in time, slowly revealing what happened in 1957, and how these individuals' relationships have evolved since then. Jane has a good marriage but revealed too much pain to Marne when her daughter was young and was wrapped in her mother's fear 'like wet shadows.' Marne has been hostile ever since. But empathy over grief is what eventually drew the Odd Couple of Ada and Jane together.

Game of Secrets takes its time developing the story, but ultimately does reveal many secrets, and also offers both answers and healing to a badly damaged mother/daughter relationship. Any serious Scrabble gamer who enjoys a psychological novel will really appreciate this one.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews