Book Review

Keeper by Jessica Moor


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.

Keeper uses dual timelines – “then” and “now” to share the story of Katie Straw.  I don’t want to say anything about the “then” chapters, but the “now” chapters begin with Katie’s body being pulled from the river.  Whether it’s murder or suicide isn’t clear, and an investigation begins, led by detectives Whitworth and Brookes.  Whitworth is one step away from retirement, and his age shows in many ways, including a dislike of technological advancement – even those elements that should make his job easier – and his insistence on calling every woman he comes across “love”.  Brookes is – outwardly, at least – more up to date and shows a little more understanding.  Keeper has such a strong start – I was immediately hooked, and desperate to find out what had happened to Katie, particularly as the investigation into her death raises more questions than it answers.

Through the investigation, the reader is introduced to the women residing at the refuge where Katie worked, and comes to understand their backstories and the abuse – physical and psychological – that they suffered at the hands of so-called loved ones.  These are heart-breaking tales that are all too common and plausible, and Moor must be praised for writing about the subject matter so sensitively while pulling no punches.  I thought that Moor perfectly captured the mindset of these brave women who have escaped their abusers having endured so much, and the way in which they are still not truly free, each and every one of them convinced that the person they’ve run away from will hunt them down, despite the precautions they’ve taken.

Keeper is a novel that touches upon many genres – it is part thriller and police procedural, but also has a literary edge.  It is a heart-breaking and devastating read, and one that inspires anger at what some people are subjected to, and while it doesn’t always make for pleasant reading – even with the majority of the violence happening off-page – it successfully highlights the different forms that abuse can take.  It’s an incredibly important novel, and one that I can’t recommend enough, despite some of the unpleasant themes contained within its pages.  This is, frankly, a superb novel, and all the more so for being Moor’s debut, and I fully expect Keeper to appear in my top books of 2020 list.

Keeper was published in March by Viking in March, and is available in hardback and digital formats.


    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it, even if it took a little while. I think it’s such an important novel.

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