Published: March 19th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural
Trigger Warnings: Domestic Abuse and Rape.
He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.
When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.
But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.
Will you listen to them?
An addictive literary page-turner about a crime as shocking as it is commonplace, KEEPER will leave you reeling long after the final page is turned.
“The trick was to never let the bruises heal, to never remember what life was like without them. Then it didn’t seem too much to bear.”
Keeper is a story about the dark side of love. It takes us to the depths of darkness in humanity and the horrors visited on those they abuse.
It has taken me a while to write this review because it hit so close to home and triggered painful memories that can still cause anxiety and nightmares over a decade later. Reading this was a visceral experience. It made me angry, made me sick to my stomach and broke my heart while also reminding me of the strength of those of us who have known that “life”.
A murder investigation is the springboard for a much deeper novel as the author takes a look at the truth of abusive relationships. It highlights the danger of these relationships, the stark reality that these women are in more danger when they leave that when they stay, rape in a relationship (ie marital rape but she’s not married) and also looks at its affect on mental health. Though it is a startling honest book, the author is never gratuitous and deals with the issues in a sensitive and compassionate way. She focuses on the women’s quiet bravery throughout their ordeals and offers an insight into the psyche of an abused woman.
“She learns to name the demon. To understand that, just as cities can fall without a shot being fired, a woman can relinquish herself, piece by piece.”
This book was filled with richly developed characters. I’ll talk about the ones I loved first of all, which was the strong female characters. They were so much more than mere victims cowering in a corner. They each had their own stories and nuances that shaped their decisions. Even if they didn’t see it, their strength the reader could recognise it, but at the same time the author showed how hard it is to break away from the control of an unhealthy relationship; especially when it’s all you’ve known or they’ve destroyed you from within.
One of the hardest things for me was recognising my abuser in some of the men in this story. Jamie and DC Daniel Whitworth were the two where I saw him most of all. Watching Katie and Jamie’s relationship play out in the flashbacks as it slowly became toxic and unhealthy was hard. Early on I recognised the love bombing, distancing you from your friends and the gaslighting. The author did a great job of accurately portraying how they play you and make you believe they love you before slowly starting to strip away your self esteem and controlling you. DC Whitworth is initially portrayed as a caring and sensitive man, but the veneer is quickly stripped away and the misogynistic dinosaur who blames abused women for their position and is ignorant and dismissive of mental health is revealed. I would get so angry reading scenes with him, more so than with Jamie as there was no attempt to charm or gloss over the awful things he said and thought. He really was a bad fit for investigating a suicide of an abused woman with mental health issues.
Keeper is a tragic, unsettling and important novel that everyone should read. It is a powerful, heart-rending, thought-provoking and outstanding debut from a superb new talent. The author doesn’t just write about abused women, she really sees them. I don’t think I’ve read a book where I recognised myself and my past so utterly and I think a lot of others will feel the same. This is one to read in 2020 and I think it will make a great impact.
Thank you to Viking books for my gifted copy of this novel.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
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.
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