The Keeper by John Lescroart
Katie Chase needed to be in control of every situation dealing with her family and her life. Guilt plagued her when she deviated from her plan and betrayed her marriage vows.
Needing assurance, affirmation and some kind of sign that she was doing everything the right way Katie modeled her life as if she were a portrait on a wall painted by a master painter with no flaws. Katie had many fears, created her own perfect world filled with lies, betrayals and deceits never faltering in front of people yet never really sure of what they saw. This story is about control, secrets, lies and many different betrayals that will come out. The Keeper: someone whose job it is to guard or care for something or someone. A keeper is a protector, guardian, overseer, caretaker or a person who guards or watches prisoners. Someone who assumes the responsibility for another person’s behavior as Katie does with her children. But, there are other keepers within this intricate plot as we meet Ruth Chase, Burt Cushing and Adam Foster and learn many more definitions of the word.
Katie Chase was murdered that is a fact. Who killed her and why is not crystal clear. If Katie could speak to you she would say that her life took a downward turn after her second child was born. She became discount with her marriage, financial issues, and disagreements with her husband and his stepmother and her need for being perfect and never faltering, Kate found herself leaning towards another man and having an affair. Someone decided to end her misery by taking her life. Someone was very clever and left no real clues and definite camouflaged evidence, managed to kidnap her so to speak and then put a bullet in her head. Why? That remains to be revealed.
Hal Chase left his home the night before Thanksgiving to pick up his stepbrother at the airport. Returning home, he found his two children fast asleep in their beds and his wife missing. Hal Chase is a guard in the San Francisco County Jail. Working there put an extra strain on Hal as both the sheriff and his deputy ran the jail using tactics that should have been scrutinized but were not. Hal Chase knew he would be the prime suspect in his wife’s death so he hired a lawyer. Dismas Hardy learned about Katie’s death but not right away. Hearing about it after she’s missing for five days, he remembers that Katie was seeing his wife on a professional basis. Here is where things begin to heat up as Hal hires Dismas to find the real killer, learn more about the circumstances surrounding her disappearance and hoping that her body would not be the next thing he had to identify.
Hal and Katie were having marital and financial troubles since their second child was born. Katie relegated herself to being a stay at home mom and did not want or allow anyone to interfere with her parenting skills, scheduling for her children or even babysit for them except in an emergency. Nothing anyone else ever did was right. Always critical of others she managed to alienate herself from her husband, his family, her family and friends. But, Katie was in pharmaceutical sales and made a ton of money before deciding to leave her job. Money became tight and with a husband who did not make enough to satisfy their lifestyle things get rough. But, with her death, he would inherit a huge insurance policy and never have to worry again.
But, there is much more to this interesting plot as the author brings to light the corruption, murders, fraud and deceptions that plagued the sheriff’s office and seemed to go unnoticed or just pushed aside. Burt Cushing ran a tight ship along with Adam Foster. His job was to supervise the bailiffs who are responsible for the safety of the courthouse and their security. He is in charge of the guards who ran the jails and the jails himself. But, Burt Cushing was clever, deceitful and seemed above the law. Most of the deputies and guards did not treat the prisoners with kindness or respect and if anyone did not adhere to their rules, pay the graft needed to get the extras they provided, decided to rat them out or speak to an attorney something would happen to silence them for good. Who cares if an inmate dies? Who cares how they are treated?
But, when the guards are questioned, they rallied together, supported the upper staff and never told what really did happen. One man serving ninety days on a probation violation killed himself or did he? One man fell off the top bunk of his bed. Or did he? The DA is concerned and brings on a young girl named Maria T. Solis-Martinez to infiltrate the jail and get friendly with a man named Luther Jones who recanted his statement regarding the suicide of another inmate. But, things do not go as planned and although she makes contact, seems to have brokered a deal the result would prove fatal for her and Luther.
Abe Glitsky retired or did he? Abe was bored staying home reading, taking the kids to school and walking the dog. Abe’s life was about to change and the excitement and the choices he was about to make might put him in grave danger. Treya, Abe’s wife was not happy with his decision to take on the job of a police investigator working for Dismas Hardy. Wes Farrell is the DA and along with Dismas and Glitsky things begin to heat up, pots boil and the allegations pile up. Everything points to Hal as the circumstantial evidence pours in. Having an affair with a woman named Patti, ending it right before Katie was killed, deaths in jail when inmates are in custody, overdoses and some killed with blunt force, was Hal part of what was going on as a guard? Did he know what was happening and kept quiet?
Patti Orosco became a distraction for everyone that met her including Abe as he questioned her regarding her relationship with Hal he tried to be neutral but at times you realize he is only human. Tenacious, persistent and having strong convictions he takes his investigative skills an uses them to the limit as he implies she could have been the killer, deals with Ruth Chase Hal’s stepmother and learns more about her relationship or non-relationship with Katie and the fact that she was banned from seeing her grandchildren.
Frannie Hardy saw Katie as her therapist and the author shares one of their sessions with readers on pages 71-74 allowing readers to get to know Katie, her issues and why she was unhappy with her life and herself. Admitting that she was hard on Hal, distant and not wanting to tell him she had an affair Katie’s voice comes through loud and clear as she explains her actions in detail.
Ruth Chase enjoyed her new position as caretaker or babysitter for her grandchildren. Ellen and Will seemed to be able to deal with her but Ruth’s ways were anything but grandmotherly. Added in were Katie’s parents and family who seems bent on pinning the murder on Hal, giving testimony to Abe and expressing their thoughts about her murder. Abe becomes so ensconced in this case and that of the murders in the jail that it puts his wife on edge, his marriage on the line and his friendship with Dismas and Wes on a short rope.
Two police detectives JaMorris and Abby work overtime along with their boss Devin Juhle to assess the evidence, question witnesses, go back over evidence and hopefully find the real killer. But, Abe is determined and enters into a world that might change it all as the investigation points to one man working for law enforcement, another that might be giving the orders as more deaths occur within the jail, threats are made and one phone call would change it all. Another death or apparent suicide and Abe and the team find what they think is the murder weapon for Katie and another murder. But, something he recalls in a conversation brings it into focus and the truth behind two of the murders comes to light where as others might go unsolved.
Author John Lescroart allows readers inside the jail of the inmates, up close and personal with those in charge as we learn about the corruption, lies and deceits that some will go to in order to control, profit and demean those that have committed crimes and are concerned less than human and not worthy of a second glance or chance. As the truth and one killer is revealed a startling and surprise ending will let readers know that Abe Glitsky just might stay on the job, have more to investigate as someone just might get away with it all. What is next on the horizon for him? What is Hal’s fate? Who killed Katie and could you believe why?
With the help of a reporter Abe breaks open the case and to some he’s a hero and to others maybe not. Just what will the final outcome be? Wait until you attend the press conference and find out just who wins, who loses and who thinks their role, as The Keeper is safe. When the medical examiner reviews a case that he deemed a suicide and realizes that maybe it was a murder things change, directions are altered and somehow Abe finds himself thinking he has it all solved. But, the ending will let readers know that sometimes what you think is fact just might not be. What is next for Abe? How will he handle learning the stark truth about someone he thought to be the killer? Corruption in the jails, fraud, alibis that are suspect and an investigator who won’t stop until her solves the case. Who celebrates? Who does not? Find out when you read this FIVE STAR NOVEL.