Happy 2021 everyone! A little note on my absence in the final two months of 2020, I simply needed a break and I’m learning to be okay with that! I started a new full-time job in September of 2020, obviously working from home, I received four Christmas commissions for my Etsy shop crafting owl sculptures, and I wanted to make the most of Christmas with my family. I know all three of those factors make me incredibly fortunate, but they also coincided with quite the reading slump! I’ve certainly cleared that now and I want to get back into blogging, especially to see if it is possible to balance with my job and hobbies. I can’t promise a new post every week, but I’ve got ideas and I’m hoping you’ll enjoy the posts when they do come.
Now, on to today’s exciting post! When it first came out in hardback last year, I saw Jessica Moor’s debut novel Keeper everywhere on my Twitter feed so, of course, I jumped at the chance to participate in the exciting blog tour to celebrate its paperback release on the 21st of January 2021.
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?
As I’m sure you can tell from my reviewing history, my favourite genre, whether classic or contemporary, will always fall within mysteries and thrillers. However, I must admit that I don’t often read crime novels or mysteries which lean towards domestic thrillers or crime. This book grabbed my attention as soon as the synopsis mentioned a seemingly open-and-shut suicide case which may be more than meets the eye, and Moor delivers on that intriguing promise.
If you’re looking for an addictive writing style, presented in short and snappy chapters ready for you to tear through until your bedtime is far behind you, then this is the book for you! I loved Moor’s writing style and I’m a proud member of the “I simply cannot believe this is a debut” club! The realistic and relatable dialogue, which never falls into typical pit traps, is a highlight which partners the small but effective moments of literary contemplations which hit hard exactly when needed. The pacing easily meets the challenge of the dual timeline narrative, one picking up as soon as the other lulls slightly. Moor stands out in her writing as she knows just the right words to effortlessly make your skin crawl, but vitally she never pushes it too far to the point of putting the book down. Put all of this together, and you get an addictive read that lives up to all of its promises.
I won’t discuss spoilers, but for me, mystery-thrillers are made or broken in the moment of the big twist. This is why I read them, I go in anticipating the shock, surprise and want to appreciate some masterful narrative craft in creating them. I’m happy to say I adored Moor’s twist. Specifically, Moor excellently allowed the reader to piece it together a couple of pages beforehand, whilst maintaining the moment of the reveal as satisfying and heart-clenching. I felt it truly did justice to certain characters, whilst not explaining every event through additional exposition. Just the right level of literal mystery remains even after this reveal. Moor expertly played with the expectations at the heart of domestic thriller narratives. Understandably, some character threads are red herrings, however, I must admit some did feel dropped at the end of the narrative and I was certainly left aching for more closure.
Now, I normally quite enjoy reading an unlikable character, and even from their perspective, when it is clear that that was the author’s intention. However, I’ve got to admit that DS Daniel Whitworth got to a very particular level of groan-inducing when it was time to read is chapters. This is a completely personal preference, and I understand his views on Widringham’s women’s refuge and the various serious matters that are raised throughout the narrative are products of his line of work, generation and the author’s choices. However, simply due to the amount of them which came throughout this was the main dampener to my general reading experience. The central building blocks of the narrative are highly poignant issues facing women today, primarily abusive relationships, gaslighting, and online abuse, and while it was interesting to see Whitworth’s views I felt the nature of his expression (I mean the character specifically, rather than the author) could have been handled better. He also contrasted Katie, Nazia, Lynne and others who, while not consistently likeable throughout to all readers, certainly expressed themselves as relatable as their experiences formed them, but they remained open to the varied views around them.
Overall, this book came out of the blue to truly impress me. Intriguing characters and an addictive writing style have ensured that I will be following Jessica Moor’s writing career very closely, and certainly trying her next releases. She tackles vital issues facing young women far too often and the twist specifically is the final gut punch that makes this necessary reading this year if you’re a mystery/thriller fan.
I’m always on the lookout for intriguing, mystery/thrillers which are dark, creepy and feature amazing twists or reveals, please do let me know if you have any recommendations!
Keeper by Jessica Moor was published in paperback by Penguin Random House on the 21st of January 2021.
After responding via Twitter, I was approved to take part in the blog tour by Georgia Taylor at Penguin Random House who provided a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to Georgia and the Penguin team for this opportunity.
None of the links in this article are affliate links. I have no obligation to post links to retailers or publishers, and I have no financial relationship with them. Links are provided for ease of access should you wish to support the author and publisher by purchasing a copy.
Waterstones is linked as it is the largest specialist book retailer in the UK, so their books are widely available in-person and online. However, I encourage you to support local, independent bookshops wherever possible.
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Goodreads: Vicky Lord