The Keeper by John Lescroart opens in San Francisco, home of Dismas Hardy, the hero of the story. It is the day after Thanksgiving and he and his wife Frannie Hardy are enjoying the post holiday fugue/quietness of the house since all of the children are gone. Fran opens the paper to find that one of her counseling patients, Katie Chase, has been missing for five days. On another page, a stranger story- another overdose at the jail.
“Overdose at the jail. How do you get drugs into the jail?”
“I’m going to rule out the Tooth Fairy.”
I hate retelling the story in a review, because why read the book if you just read it in the review, and the blurb is right there, so why do I need to rehash the story? Because it’s so twisty!
The Keeper does what Lescroart’s tales usually does– presents a set of problems that should in no way be related and brings them together over the course of the book. The return of embattled former police chief Abe Glitsky brings an element of tension– as we remember from The Ophelia Cut, Abe retired under suspicious circumstances. The Keeper brings Abe back in the capacity of an investigator, undermining the SFPD and trying to solve a mystery that everyone feels is pretty much solved. I figured that would happen– Abe was too young to retire and he cares too much about truth.
I discovered Mr. Lescroart over ten years ago, on a whim at Barnes & Noble I was looking for a legal thriller and picked up a book by him… I can’t remember the title, but I devoured it in hours and went back to the bookstore the next day and bought the next two in line. I’ve since read everything he’s written (except for a few Wyatt Hunt novels) and I’ve come to consider Lescroart a legal thriller writer in a class all his own.
Lescroart uses recurring characters, which if you read the books in order, lets you get to know them, bit by bit, over the years. I’ve always loved the Dismas/Abe books because though they often work opposite sides of the law, they’re best friends– lifelong friends– and they have a professional courtesy between them. Since book one, I’ve watched their friendship grow and change with each case. In some books, they’ve saved each other’s lives; in some, they’ve said some goodbyes. What is a constant in the relationship is how they lean on each other’s knowledge, each helping the other with his job. And also the witty banter. I loved the bit in the beginning from Abe, about being so bored that he’s been watching Friends.
But back to the story I am trying not to tell in this review. The case in the Keeper– or the cases, as it turns out, is where the twists come in. Hal Chase– missing Katie’s husband, hires Dismas Hardy because it looks like SFPD is going to pin her disappearance and eventual murder on him. He needs a lawyer and since Katie’s been seeing Frannie and Frannie is married to a Defense Attorney, it only makes sense, right? Sure, if he wasn’t having an affair. If they weren’t having money problems. If there wasn’t ample time and opportunity for Hal to kill Katie. He can’t prove that he didn’t, and SFPD feels they can prove that he did.
It’s a true WHODUNIT, in which my mind changed by the minute. I had to keep reading because every chapter ends in a Breaking Bad-esque cliffhanger, full of OH CRAP moments and an ending twist that I didn’t see coming until it was right in front of me. This novel will truly keep you guessing– who’s crooked? Who’s innocent? Who killed Katie? And why– was it for the money? Was she about to blow someone’s cover? Was she about to destroy some careers? Or was she just a terrible daughter in law?
Don’t be so sure that you know the answers. You’ll be surprised when you find the truth.
The Keeper is available for prepurchase at major retail sites and will be available for purchase in print or eBook on May 6th 2014. An excellent release from one of my favorites!
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this novel via the publisher and Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.