In Sandra Brown’s Classic ‘Best Kept Secrets,’ A Daughter Seeks Justice for Her Mother’s Death [REVIEW]

Two Texas cowboys
Which of them killed her mother? (Photo courtesy Canva)

A tiny Texas town. One woman with unfinished business. Three men who would prefer the past stay buried. Will she get the answers she is searching for? Or will someone terminate her search and her life? Find out in Sandra Brown’s classic romantic suspense thriller, Best Kept Secrets.

Sandra Brown's BEST KEPT SECRETS
Grand Central

Originally published 33 years ago in 1989, this novel tells the story of Alexandra Gaither, an up-and-coming state prosecutor in search of justice. With newly found evidence in her pocket, she makes her way to the rural Texas town where her mother, Celina, was killed a quarter century before.

There, Alex confronts the three men who were with her mom when she died: her former lover, his best friend, and the father figure to them both. They all have motive, means, and secrets they want to keep. But Alex is determined to find out what happened to her mother so she can put the past behind her once and for all and move on with her life.

As you may imagine, Alex doesn’t win any popularity contests with the locals by digging up buried secrets, and someone will do whatever it takes to put an end to her sleuthing. With only one month to either solve the case or drop it for good, she doggedly searches for her mother’s murderer and tries not to get killed in the process.

As I began reading this novel, I couldn’t help but wonder if anyone can have truly altruistic motives when they have skin in the game. And does there ever come a point when we should just let sleeping dogs lie, especially when the unvarnished truth proves utterly devastating? Alexandra’s tenacity is thoroughly relatable, and I truly admire her desire to get at the truth, even if that means taking a long hard look at both herself and her family. I also admire her passion for justice.

Still, I found myself having more compassion and empathy for Reede Lambert, the man who served as the sheriff of Percell County at the time Alexandra’s mother was murdered. Here is a man who was practically an orphan growing up, after his own mother left and his father became a drunk. As an adult, Brown paints him as a hopeful yet harsh realist who lashes out at others when they disappoint him. I think the following passage sums him up nicely.

“Reede can’t understand taking the path of least resistance. He couldn’t tolerate that weakness in her. He expects so… much out of himself, he imposes the same standards on everybody else. Those standards are virtually impossible to live up to. That’s why he’s constantly disappointed in people. He sets himself up to be.”

Sandra Brown, Best Kept Secrets

Reede excels at reading people and surviving various situations, at least until Alexandra calls his bluff. As a reader, I can’t help but see myself in Reede. He sees people for who they really are, yet he wants them to succeed, reach their potential, and make good choices. Or rather, the choices he would make for them. It’s a little humbling to see yourself on the printed page. But over time, Reede manages to change, which gives me hope that with time and effort, I can too!

If you’ve only read Brown’s latest work, you may not find that this book ranks as high as newer titles like Mean Streak or Thick as Thieves. It simply isn’t as polished as her later titles have been. Also, while this book does have plenty of angst, grit, and strong-willed characters, the plot is a bit muddled and can’t quite be categorized as either a romance or a full-throttle thriller. Still, if you are a longtime fan of Brown’s work and love reading stories about people who would do well with a bit of professional therapy, you will enjoy reading Best Kept Secrets.

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Sandra Brown is the author of 71 New York Times bestsellers. There are more than 80 million copies of her books in print worldwide, and her work has been translated into 34 languages.

In 2008, the International Thriller Writers named Brown its Thriller Master, the organization’s highest honor. She has served as president of Mystery Writers of America and holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Texas Christian University. She lives in Texas.

For more information, visit SandraBrown.net, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and YouTube.

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown
(Photo by Ryan M. Brown Photography)

BEST KEPT SECRETS
By Sandra Brown
544 pp. Grand Central. $15.99

Purchase Best Kept Secrets direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, or Walmart.

About Heather Fink
Heather Fink is a writer, bibliophile and award-winning librarian who loves to introduce the next generation of readers to the wonderful world of books. She currently resides in Texas.

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