I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Keeper by Jessica Moor
Published by Penguin on March 10, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Crime, Suspense, Mystery & Detective, Police Procedural
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
An addictive literary thriller about a crime as shocking as it is commonplace.
When Katie Straw's body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police are ready to write it off as a standard-issue female suicide. But the residents of the domestic violence shelter where Katie worked disagree. These women have spent weeks or even years waiting for the men they're running from to catch up with them. They know immediately: This was murder.Still, Detective Dan Whitworth and his team expect an open-and-shut case--until they discover evidence that suggests Katie wasn't who she appeared. Weaving together the investigation with Katie's final months as it barrels toward the truth, The Keeper is a riveting mystery and a searing examination of violence against women and the structures that allow it to continue, marking the debut of an incredible new voice in crime fiction.
Keeper was one of those books that had the premise of being outstanding, but it didn’t work for me for several different reasons. Firstly, the characterisation didn’t work in any aspect. I didn’t feel connected or invested in their back stories or their end game. This was a real shame because good characterisation is pretty much a deal breaker for me. Like other readers, I went through bouts of anger and not the type that invoked such emotion that I was intertwined with the plot, the anger was for reasons that I will discuss below.
The main protagonists were so devoid of human kindness and emotion that I seriously wondered how far they had either got/or would get in the police force. I mean, you are dealing with a potential suicide and Detective Whitworth spend most of his time wondering why the deceased partner was such a wimp? We all have different reactions to grief and I was astonished that the Detective would actually voice this. He seems like an overly jaded officer, jaded about marriage, parenthood and women in general.
Katie Straw works at a women’s domestic violence refuge. She’s later pulled from the river and suspected suicide is considered. There’s no note but its suggested that that only happens in Hollywood movies. It’s the Detectives job to piece together that last moments of her life to work out if it was indeed suicide or that she was murdered. The question is who would want to kill the shy and reserved woman?
The plot thickens when they discover that there is no-one named Katie Straw – no birth certificate, no university degree and no tax records. Surely this is impossible? Only one plausible reason stands out – that she was hiding from something or someone. Katie’s boyfriend is questioned, her employer Val and the women who live in the refuge. Someone must know something? It was a nice touch being able to have the women’s take on the situation. We get to see a little snapshot of Katie’s day and it wasn’t necessarily a pleasant one.
Keeper was written in such a way that it invoked anger and questioning into its narrative. I didn’t like the detectives, nor did I like Val. She had the condescending air of a female supremacist. Yes, she wanted to protect the women under her care, but she also didn’t think that men were capable of being in the same situation. Ultimately, she conducted herself with an air of toxic femininity. I truly wonder what kind of impact she had on the women and children living there.
The two saving graces for Keeper was the ending and the awareness it tried to show in regard to domestic violence. The ending was a complete doozy and one I didn’t see coming. It blew me straight out of the left field and I was utterly gobsmacked. I wish the rest of the book had been as thrilling as that because I wouldn’t have felt exasperated whilst reading it.
ABOUT JESSICA MOOR
Jessica Moor is a writer from London. Her debut novel, Keeper, was published by Penguin Viking in 2020. She divides her time between Berlin and London.