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Keeping Watch Paperback – February 3, 2004
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Raves for Laurie R. King
“One of the most original talents to emerge in the ’90s.”
“King always writes well, and her stories sweep along with an inexorable force that comes from a power greater than mere skillful plotting.”
--The Boston Globe
“King is an original and skilled writing talent.”
--The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)
“King has deservedly received the Edgar and Creasey Awards for her thoughtful, intelligent, innovative, imaginative mysteries.”
From the Hardcover edition.
From the Inside Flap
Acclaimed as one of the most original talents to emerge in the last decade, award-winning author Laurie R. King returns to Folly Island to deliver her most stunning achievement yet--a breathtaking novel of suspense that explores the very essence of good and evil.
Allen Carmichael came back from Vietnam a lifetime ago--but only now was he ready to return home. For years, hes lived on the fringes of the law, using a soldiers skills to keep watch over those too young to defend themselves. Some consider him nothing but a kidnapper for hire--the best in the business; others call him a hero. His specialty has been rescuing children from abusive parents and escorting them to loving homes. But after twenty-five years, he is ready to take on his final case--a case that could destroy him.
The boys name is Jamie: He believes his father is going to kill him. Allen is convinced that the twelve-year-old is right and devises a strategy to save him. His last job done, Allen heads back to Folly Island, where he plans to settle into a quiet life. But not long after his return, a small plane piloted by the boys fathers crashes, leaving behind debris--but no body. Now it is up to Allen to resolve whether Jamies father is dead or alive--and to make sure Jamie himself stays out of harms way. But a series of ominous events leads Allen to question whether Jamies father is really the enemy after all. Or if the real threat is far more unspeakable...and the killer unimaginable.
Riveting, harrowing, and unforgettable, Keeping Watch takes psychological suspense to its most dizzying heights and proves again why Laurie R. King has been called by both readers and critics an undisputed master of suspense.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Warning: there are brutual and down right terrifying parts to this book. It should not be read by someone who has fought in Viet Nam or has childhood abuse issues without careful consideration.
King has obviously been allowed to use a lot of diaries and memories of Viet Nam veterans. Using this material she tells it like it was - the pressures, the fear, the possibility that anyone including a child could be a killer. It is raw, it is real and sets the stage for the conflicts beautifully. Slightly holds back on the worst of the worst, but not by much. In these scenes there are few heroes and a lot of survivors who have to deal with "real" life later on.
As for the childhood abuse - the description of the psychological abuse is downright chilling. She manages to describe just enough information without going overboard. She then sets the reader up for a tightly written mystery - who is the real killer? Could it be the child?
I have read all of King's other stand alone books as well as all of her series. While I liked to loved all the others, this is by far the best. I could not put it down in spots but in other places I had to put it down for a day or two just to deal with the scene just written.
King's exploration of Allen's character is wholly successful, and her depiction of his patrols in the "green" in Vietnam riveting. The contemporary story of Jamie's rescue is equally rewarding, indeed downright engrossing after about page 240, when of a sudden one stops knowing for certain who the bad guys are. Keeping Watch is at least as good as King's novel Folly. Familiarity with the earlier book is not at all necessary, but readers of Keeping Watch will almost certainly want to treat themselves to a broader view of the universe Allen Carmichael inhabits once they've finished with King's latest.
Reviewed by Debra Hamel, author of Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece
King, through a series of writing and conversations, and, I believe, a voyage to the jungles (the "green") of Viet Nam, manages to evoke the presence of her ex-GI, Allen, and recreate the war there. Flashbacks syncopate the story of today's Allen, locked in a battle with an angry, violent father over possession of his abused, 12-year old son. Allen's part of a network of a type of "underground railroad" for abused children. His destiny is tied up in his memories of rage and terror from his days in Vietnam, and what's worse, his return to "civilization", as a despised Vietnam vet. King has gotten into the deepest visceral memories of the soldiers who served there, and the analogy between Allen's former battles and his current urban battles gives the reader a strong link to his motivation.
"Six months of rage and shame flooded up through...his gut and seized his heart and his mind; six months of confusion and hatred and humiliation, long weeks of gut-shrinking terror and soul-withering frustrtion slammed together in the cleansing red emotion of savagery given a clear target".
....what terrors Allen has faced then and now are interspersed with the third/first person account of Jamie, a boy shattered by his sensitivity and knowledge of the emotional cripple that is his father. You'll be caught up in the tense thrill of today's story, and reluctantly moved back to the jungles to see the paradox of Jamie's struggles and Allen's own.
A book you won't soon forget -- the evocative "Keeping Watch" - bravo for Laurie R. King!
This could stand alone but is a sequel to The Folly. Ms. King captures the essence of the Vietnam war and her characters are intersting and in many cases heroic. I appreciate characters that are "good guys". There seem to be so few now. Even when the good guys are "bad" it seems less staged than many writers these days.
Enjoyed the BeeKeeper's Apprentice so much I actually ended up buying all of her books including this one. If you just want a well written good story you'll enjoy this book or any of her stories.
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