A Book Spy Review: ‘The House of Secrets’ by Brad Meltzer

Brad Meltzer The House of SecretsQuestion: What do you call a conspiracy wrapped in another conspiracy about the host of a long-running television show that investigates conspiracies?

The Answer: Brad Meltzer’s new novel, The House of Secrets!

Brad Meltzer’s latest novel takes a break from the author’s bestselling Beecher White series and introduces readers to a new character named Hazel Nash.

Hazel is a brilliant young woman who chose to become a professor rather than following her father and brother’s footsteps by joining the family business. At least, until the family business chose her…

While speeding through Utah, Jack Nash, Hazel’s father, suffers a heart attack. Falling unconscious, he loses control and the car crashes. Hazel, who was riding shotgun next to her dad, was seriously injured. Her brother, Skip, was in the backseat and walked away mostly okay.

Eight days later, Hazel woke up in the hospital after being in a coma. Confused and groggy, she found her brother at her side. Their father was dead and Hazel, who can’t remember certain details or feel much emotion, is told that she suffered a serious head injury.

Her memory may return over time, but there’s no guarantee. It’s not full amnesia, though, as she does have certain memories like, for instance, being told as a young child that “nothing is ever lost…everything is always somewhere.” It was her father who told her that, and he also taught her to question things and search for answers. In fact, that’s how Jack Nash made a living.

Having spent four decades on television as host of The House of Secrets, a popular conspiracy show, Jack Nash was a famous man. So too is Skip, his son, who eventually started co-hosting the show. Together they traveled the world, chasing leads and investigating crazy conspiracies. Hazel, though, lived her life away from the limelight.

That’s not to say that she didn’t enjoy a good mystery, though. In fact, one of her most vivid memories, even after the car accident, is a story her father told her when she was just a  young child. It was about a man being found dead with Benedict Arnold’s bible in his chest. The object, no bigger than a deck of cards, was found during the man’s autopsy. The question is, how did the bible get there?

Hazel never did figure it out.

While still in the hospital peppering her brother with questions about who she is, who he is, who their father was (their mother died many years before) and what their life is like, she spotted a suspicious-looking man in the hallway. It turns out that the man is an agent with the FBI, and he was there to speak with Hazel.

Though her memory is spotty, Hazel answers the FBI man’s questions as best as she can. Skip is there too, and together they listen as they’re told about a body that was recently found. The dead man was cold like he’d been in a freezer, but that wasn’t even the strangest thing about it. Upon further inspection, medical examiners found a copy of Benedict Arnold’s bible in his chest cavity.

Then came another bombshell…

The last known person the dead man had been in contact with was Jack Nash. The two had met in person just a few days prior. Now both men are dead. Is the mystery man’s death a coincidence, or is it somehow linked to Jack? Something stinks, and it ain’t just the nasty hospital gowns.

Hazel goes looking for answers but the more she learns about herself, the less she likes who she used to be. Plus, there’s another blistering conspiracy lurking behind the scenes, and it’s up to Hazel Nash to expose the truth. To do that she has to find out who she is, and who her father really was.

The House of Secrets packs a brilliant mystery into a hair-raising conspiracy that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. Fast pacing, nonstop suspense, and a climactic final act make this one of the summer’s best novels.

Why I loved it

I’m just going to admit it, I love a good conspiracy. Did we really land on the moon? Did the government recover an alien spaceship in Roswell, New Mexico? And what about the Georgia Guide Stones–who built them and what’s their intended purpose?

As humans, we’re drawn to conspiracies because many times, well, they’re more exciting than the truth. We like to be entertained, it’s just a fact. Meltzer understands this better than most and knows just how to hold a reader’s attention as he lays the story’s foundation. He also knows how to keep readers off-balance and guessing, incorporating twists and turns as the story unfolds.

We don’t know Hazel before the car accident that left her brain scrambled, which means we’re getting to know her at the same time she’s getting to know herself. The suspense mixed with historical fiction really works, and makes for a compelling plot that’s unique and exactly what fans of Meltzer’s books have come to expect.

Bonus: If you’ve read Meltzer’s Beecher White series, you’ll recognize a character who makes a small cameo in The Hosue of Secrets. It’s pretty awesome! 

Why you should read it

Nobody writes quite like Brad Meltzer. His style is sort of like if Harlan Coben’s books had a love child with one of Steve Berry’s novels. Informative, yet full of twists and things you never saw coming. Oh, and nearly impossible to put down!

If you’re a fan of Meltzer’s television show Brad Meltzer’s Decoded, which in many ways is the real-life version of the fictitious “The House of Secrets” that Hazel’s father hosted, then you have to read this book.

If there’s anything negative to say, my only gripe is that Meltzer goes through stretches of writing in very short sentences, which at times made me feel like I was living inside of Aaron Sorkin’s brain. There’s lots of ping-pong dialogue, and while it reads fast, it also feels a little choppy at times. Not a huge problem, but it does take a little getting used to.

All in all, The House of Secrets is a fun, solid thriller that is sure to leave you questioning everything–including the history books!

Book Details

Author: Brad Meltzer

Pages: 352 (Hardcover)

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Release Date: June 7, 2016 (Order Now!)

 

 

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