- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. — Leo Tolstoy, “Anna Karenina”
I was going to resist using this famous line from one of Tolstoy’s masterpieces because it has all the attributes of a cliche´, but I decided it’s appropriate in any discussion of Carla Buckley’s enthralling family in peril thriller “The Deepest Secret” (448 pages, Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, $26.00, also available in a Kindle edition, and an audio book from Random House).
The families living in the novel’s suburban Columbus, Ohio cul-de-sac all have challenges and problems, but Eve and David Lattimore’s are among the most complicated.
They have a rebellious 16-year-old daughter, Melissa — something many families can identify with — but their biggest challenge is their 14-year-old son, Tyler, who suffers from the rare disease xeroderma pigmentosum (XP) where exposure to ultraviolet light — artificial and sunlight alike — causes permanent damage. The average life expectancy of people born with XP is 20 years.
As if this isn’t enough, David is based in his company’s Washington, DC office during the week, commuting to Columbus on weekends. Eve is essentially a single mom, like her best friend Charlotte, a divorced woman raising Amy, one of Tyler’s best friends.
Tyler is like any other 14-year old, eager to explore his world, but his XP means a life of heavy curtains and deadlocked doors protect him during the day. He can only leave the house at night. For Eve, only constant vigilance stands between an increasingly restless teenage son and the dangers of the outside world.
There are so many events in this page-turner of a thriller that constitute spoilers, but I can state that Amy, younger than Tyler, is a central figure in the tragedy that envelopes the cul-de-sac.
When tragedy strikes, it becomes clear that this family is not the only one on the quiet cul-de-sac that is more complicated than it appears. And as Eve is forced to shield her family from harm, there are some crises she cannot control—and some secrets that not even love can conceal.
The cul-de-sac’s secrets are revealed, proving that seemingly happy families all have secrets they strive mightily to conceal from their friends and neighbors.
“The Deepest Secret” is a story about hope and forgiveness, about the terrifying ways our lives can spin out of control and the unexpected sacrifices that may save us. Women are the obvious target audience –logical since women outnumber men as book buyers — but male readers should also experience Buckley’s insights in this gripping thriller.
About the author
Carla Buckley is the author of “The Deepest Secret”, “Invisible”, and “The Things That Keep Us Here”, which was nominated for a Thriller Award as a best first novel and the Ohioana Book Award for fiction. She is a graduate of Oberlin College and the Wharton School of Business, and lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband and three children. She is currently at work on her next novel, “The Good Goodbye”.
Her website: www.carlabuckley.com