Katherine Armstrong has worked in publishing for over six years. She is a crime fiction Editor for an independent publishing company in London.
I’m writing this review as I sit on the Empire State train from New York’s Penn station en route to Albany for the 2013 Bouchercon crime fiction festival.
This adds nothing to the review other than some amazing views of the Hudson River as we travel through upstate New York. The sun is catching the water and the leaves of the trees that surround the river. It’s a picture perfect view and it’s at times like these that you imagine – to quote the poet – that all is right with the world. All is not right though in Luke Delaney’s latest Detective Sean Corrigan novel, The Keeper. A woman, Louise Russell, has gone missing fro her home. Taken by a stranger straight off her doorstep and Corrigan’s murder investigation team have been called in to apply their specialist skills to finding her, before she becomes one of their more usual victims. The Keeper isn’t a whodunit as we know from Chapter One who the kidnapper is; it’s a whydunnit and the novel sets out to look at the reasons why the kidnapper, Thomas Keller, has decided to take and keep his victims. Who is the mysterious Sam that they remind him of, and what happened to her? What happened in his past that has turned him into the man he is today?
Corrigan is one of those cops who thinks through everything and puts himself into the mind of the killers that he chases after. He’s, unusually for a detective, happily married with kids and he doesn’t have either a drink or drug problem, but he does work too hard and invests a lot emotionally in his cases and his colleagues. His DS, Sally Jones, is still recovering, both mentally and physically, from being attacked by a psychopath six months previously and Corrigan keeps a fraternal eye on her as the case of the missing Louise Russell continues. When a woman is found dead, both Sally and Corrigan need to bolster themselves for a denouement that has unexpected consequences.
If you’re not a fan of crime novels that go a bit OTT in their depictions of violence towards women then The Keeper isn’t a book for you. At times I felt the rape scenes were unnecessarily graphic and didn’t add much to the narrative drive (and I’m not particularly squeamish). Sometimes it’s better to say less and leave the reader to imagine the worse.
Overall though The Keeper rattles on as Corrigan and Co. look for clues about the man they are hunting for, before the body count starts to mount. It also explores the perennial question of nature versus nurture. Do all the bad experiences in a child’s life fundamentally change that child, or can people overcome their past and heal themselves?
One to read in the sunshine!
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