“The House Of Secrets” by Brad Meltzer with Tod Goldberg is the first book in a riveting new thriller series. Most authors are well known for their writing style and Meltzer is no different, as he has become the king of the conspiracy mystery. Not only does this plot hold the reader’s attention, but it also keeps them off balance and navigating through the twists and turns.
Meltzer became intrigued “Eight years ago at the National Archives I was shown the Oath of Allegiance. Those who signed it agreed not to betray the U.S. One of those names was Benedict Arnold, who was a distinguished military man. Before he became a traitor he had put his life on the line for our country. In that moment when I saw his signature the story all came together for me.
“I could not get out of my head the story of the last moments between Benedict Arnold and George Washington. It has been said that the portrayal was one of the few times Washington actually cried in public. It is unbelievable that Arnold asked for his baggage and clothes with Washington delivering them immediately. The conspiracy presents itself because no one knows what was in the baggage.”
Espionage, government corruption, family secrets, blackmail, betrayal, murder and a historical conspiracy are all incorporated into the plot. The main protagonist is Hazel Nash. Meltzer has done with her what he previously did with another main character Beecher White, who makes a cameo appearance in this novel. Both characters are realistic, believable, likeable, complex and intelligent; although Hazel is more of a “badass.”
The mystery begins on page one when the Nash family gets into a car accident. The father, Jack Nash, host of a conspiracy investigation TV show, is killed and his daughter, Hazel, has a traumatic brain injury. She is intent on regaining her memory and discovering the real reason behind her father’s death. Remembering her father’s words, that mysteries need to be solved, she wonders if the tale he told her about Benedict Arnold could be true. Conspiracy theorists believe that Arnold was a not a traitor, but a double agent.
Meltzer explores the question of why we remember the name of Benedict Arnold and not other traitors?
“I think there is something said for being the first traitor,” he said. “There are no absolutes in life so anyone who believes that all the conspiracies are true or none at all is silly. I think sometimes the government is absolutely lying and sometimes not. I don’t believe in all of them, but do believe in some. I used the Nixon and Kennedy names for my characters because they were the best conspiracies of all. The one that was solved and the one we still cannot answer: Watergate and the JFK assassination.”
Hazel is spurred on with her investigation when FBI agent Trevor Rabkin, known as Rabbit, reports that her father was poisoned to death along with Darren Nixon and Arthur Kennedy, the latter found dead wearing a Continental Army outfit. Working as a team they must combat an assassin know as The Bear as they search for answers.
“House Of Secrets” is an engrossing story with intrigue, mystery, history and suspense. All these ingredients are mixed together to form a fascinating conspiracy theory. This fast paced narrative has well developed characters and a plot that will make readers question everything they were taught in the history books.