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Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
Particularly fun is when a mystery/thriller hooks you from the start. A little action, a little wonder, a great big question, “What?”, and a bigger question, “Why?”, and you’re off to the races. Element of Secrecy by Heather Slawecki begins just this way. A little girl hidden in a barn overhears some very bad men planning a murder. Her father is one of those very bad men. She herself reacts badly. And with the following perfect sentence, Ms. Slawecki hooks you hard from your idle curiosity and yanks you from your waters of daily equanimity: “It turns out, that was just a sneak preview of things to come.” Fast forward to the future and, as I said, you’re off to the races, where secrets have accreted over time like silt in some oily-dark old river.
The many plot twists inundating Heather Slawecki’s Element of Secrecy come more like multiple and accumulating revelations than actual twists or turns, and the credulity meter probably marks her book as more for young adults than jaded oldsters, but the writing is brisk and pure and highly entertaining. The kitchen sink is also here, hidden amongst the cults, the mob, the government, the Native Americans, the secret rooms, and yes, even some ravenous wolves. Our over-capable heroine probably owns a cape. But all of this feeds the book’s non-stop entertainment and adventure, both of which are handled skillfully enough to keep that old hook firmly implanted as one is inexorably reeled in for final revelations and mysterious hints about a portentous future.