[Review] The Keeper by John Lescroart

Posted 5 May, 2014 by DLWhite in Reviews, Writers Read 0 Comments

The Keeper Book Cover The Keeper
Dismas Hardy #15
John Lescroart
Thriller, Mystery
Atria Books
May 6, 2014
EBook, print

On the evening before Thanksgiving, Hal Chase, a guard in the San Francisco County Jail, drives to the airport to pick up his step-brother for the weekend. When they return, Hal’s wife, Katie, has disappeared without a clue.


By the time Dismas Hardy hears about this, Katie has been missing for five days. The case strikes close to home because Katie had been seeing Hardy’s wife, a marriage counselor. By this time, the original Missing Persons case has become a suspected homicide, and Hal is the prime suspect. And the lawyer he wants for his defense is none other than Hardy himself.


Hardy calls on his friend, former homicide detective Abe Glitsky, to look into the case. At first it seems like the police might have it right; the Chases’ marriage was fraught with problems; Hal’s alibi is suspect; the life insurance policy on Katie was huge. But Glitsky’s mission is to identify other possible suspects, and there proves to be no shortage of them: Patti Orosco—rich, beautiful, dangerous, and Hal’s former lover; the still unknown person who had a recent affair with Katie; even Hal’s own step-mother Ruth, resentful of Katie’s gatekeeping against her grandchildren. And as Glitsky probes further, he learns of an incident at the San Francisco jail, where Hal works—only one of many questionable inmate deaths that have taken place there. Then, when Katie’s body is found not three blocks from the Chase home, Homicide arrests Hal and he finds himself an inmate in the very jail where he used to work, a place full of secrets he knows all too well.


Against this backdrop of conspiracy and corruption, ambiguous motives and suspicious alibis, an obsessed Glitsky closes in on the elusive truth. As other deaths begin to pile up he realizes, perhaps too late, that the next victim might be himself.

About the Author

John Lescroart is the author of more than twenty previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellersDamageTreasure Hunt, and The 13th Juror.  He lives in Northern California.

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.

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