Viking Books 26th March 2020
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?
A spectacularly fast read for me Keeper was a gripping story told in a then and now format. With a central theme of Domestic Violence, the subject matter interested me and the book did not disappoint. That said I found this book slow to get started, there were a number of women living in the refuge and it took a while for me to familiarise with their stories.
The police are investigating the death of Katie and everything indicates it was suicide. As the story is told the ‘then’ aspect focusses on Karen and her life prior to her work at the refuge, without spoilers I preferred this part of the story. The ‘now’ part is set in the present day and focuses on the police investigation of Katie’s death with the refuge forming a central point as Katie’s place of work.
The plot was strong although I must say I had a fair idea of the circumstances of the death relatively early in the book. The ending was frustrating but actually completely appropriate and a just ending for this story. The story is told in the third person and the chapters are quite short which contributed to the pace of reading and as I mentioned earlier, this was a quick read for me at 320 pages.
Published in March I think this is an important book to read insofar as the ability of fiction to raise awareness of issues and Domestic Abuse continues to remain hidden and often the alternatives to the abusive situation are too difficult to be contemplated, but the risks to (predominantly) women are high. A strong piece of crime fiction with a worthy topic that is recommended by me.
The author’s background of working in the violence against girls and women sector was evident as the book explores a range of abuse against women including coercive control and the difficulties of women in identifying themselves as a victim and feeling worthy of support and help. Similarly the perception of services geared to helping female victims was portrayed well with a certain level of hostility to such services and a dominant view of these services not being needed and a degree of justification for the male behaviour combined with a disbelief that it was tolerated by the women making her somehow culpable.
About the Author
Jessica Moor studied English at Cambridge before completing a Creative Writing MA at Manchester University. Prior to this she spent a year working in the violence against women and girls sector and this experience inspired her first novel, Keeper.