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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Keeping Watch by Laurie R. King

Keeping Watch by Laurie R. King. New York: Bantam Books, 2003. ISBN: 0-553-80191-0

This book is almost, but not quite, a sequel to Folly. Keeping Watch stands alone, however, and need not be read in connection with Folly. The connection is simply an overlap between characters and settings. Allen, the Vietnam vet protagonist of Keeping Watch eventually becomes the lover of Rae, the protagonist of Folly. But otherwise, there is very little connection between the two books and their stories.

Keeping Watch begins in Vietnam, as a young man witnesses and participates in all the horrors of that awful conflict. He comes back emotionally scarred, and unable to cope with normal life, living on the streets in a semi-insane state for several years. Finally, he wakes up enough to realize, almost by accident, that it is only in the adrenaline rush of the hunt that he can maintain his sanity. He finds a place for himself in the underground world of rescuing abused children and their mothers, by stealth, or even by force when necessary.

The suspense comes from a case in which Allen may have just bitten off more than he can chew. The abusive father turns out to be an underworld hit man and embezzler. And there is even some doubt about the boy, just barely preteen, himself. Has his father succeeded in turning him into a monster too? The father comes after the kidnappers, and the hunter becomes the hunted.

The subject matter is difficult, scary, even twisted. The book is darker than many of King's other novels. Definitely more suspense than mystery. And while it may not be to everyone's taste, it gets a thumbs up from me. Definitely recommended for all Laurie King fans.

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