Review: The Keeper by John Lescroart (4/5)

Monday 5 May 2014
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.

Legal thrillers are something I've wanted to read more of for a long time. There's just something about the courtroom that fascinates me, and John Lescroart's books have been on my tbr for a while along with most of Grisham's (apart from the few that I've read). I did jury service just over a year ago and this just heightened my interest in the genre even further. So when I saw this book on bookbridgr I didn't hesitate in requesting a review copy. I am now going to be seeking out more books from Lescroart as soon as my review books for May and June are read and reviewed! This book isn't a courtroom drama but there is a huge legal aspect to the story.

The blurb for this book immediately drew me in. I love a good mystery and they don't come much better than the one here. The book opens with a nice introduction to Dismas Hardy and his wife and their home life. There's two things that an author writing about the same character for a few decades needs to do: satisfy existing readers by continuing the character's story but at the same time not alienating new readers and the author definitely achieved that here. Little snippets about Hardy's life up until now where given away and I definitely look forward to reading more about this character. 

One of Hardy's wife's clients has gone missing, Katie Chase, seemingly she has upped and left without taking her children with her. Friends and family think this is out of the ordinary and suspicion falls on the husband Hal Chase. Hal has a somewhat shaky alibi as to where he was at the time of the disappearance and he calls on Hardy to help him find his wife. Hardy himself then asks an old friend and ex Homicide detective Abe Giltsky to help find out more using his connections. Running alongside this story is the mystery about the amount of deaths occurring inside the local jail.

I definitely got caught up in the mystery of where Katie was and couldn't turn the pages quick enough. Katie's friends and family are convinced Hal has something to do with it, we learn about the various motives he could have for doing it but ultimately I believed Hal from the start which left me second guessing everybody else that was introduced into the story and wondering what part they could have played in the disappearance. With the story of the prison deaths too, there was plenty going on in the book to keep it moving at a quick pace and to keep the reader interested. Wes Farrell the district attorney is looking into the prison deaths and recruits a woman by the name of Maria to enter the prison posing as a nurse to try and gather evidence against the Sheriff. 

The last part of the book especially I couldn't read quick enough as everything started to fall into place. This really is a gripping read which left me guessing up until the end. My only problem with the book is I felt the reasoning behind the killings and who the killer was was a bit weak. Having thought about it though the reasoning felt realistic, it was something that can and has happened in the real world. I definitely recommend this book to people looking for a good mystery alongside great writing and characterisation. 

Thanks to bookbridgr for the review copy

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