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Keeping Watch [Paperback]

Laurie R. King
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 3 2004
Acclaimed as one of the most original talents to emerge in the last decade, award-winning author Laurie R. King returns to Folly Island to deliver her most stunning achievement yet--a breathtaking novel of suspense that explores the very essence of good and evil.

Allen Carmichael came back from Vietnam a lifetime ago--but only now was he ready to return home. For years, he’s lived on the fringes of the law, using a soldier’s skills to keep watch over those too young to defend themselves. Some consider him nothing but a kidnapper for hire--the best in the business; others call him a hero. His specialty has been rescuing children from abusive parents and escorting them to loving homes. But after twenty-five years, he is ready to take on his final case--a case that could destroy him.

The boy’s name is Jamie: He believes his father is going to kill him. Allen is convinced that the twelve-year-old is right and devises a strategy to save him. His last job done, Allen heads back to Folly Island, where he plans to settle into a quiet life. But not long after his return, a small plane piloted by the boy’s father’s crashes, leaving behind debris--but no body. Now it is up to Allen to resolve whether Jamie’s father is dead or alive--and to make sure Jamie himself stays out of harm’s way. But a series of ominous events leads Allen to question whether Jamie’s father is really the enemy after all. Or if the real threat is far more unspeakable...and the killer unimaginable.

Riveting, harrowing, and unforgettable, Keeping Watch takes psychological suspense to its most dizzying heights and proves again why Laurie R. King has been called by both readers and critics an undisputed master of suspense.


From the Hardcover edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

Versatile and prolific, King not only finds time for two successful mystery series but also manages to produce the occasional stand-alone gem. Fans will discover that this gripping tale shares certain locations and characters with Folly (2001), but her hero and subject are unique to this novel. At its simplest, this is the story of a man who helps rescue women and/or children from dangerously abusive men. King's lengthy, brilliantly executed backstory of Allen Carmichael's experiences in Vietnam, his disastrously unhappy return home and his eventual discovery of his "calling" showcase some of her finest writing. Now in his early 50s, Allen is ready to retire from his dangerous vocation, to settle on his remote island and perhaps serve as a consultant to those who continue the struggle. But his last rescue, that of a 12-year-old boy trapped in a horrible situation, continues to haunt him. And when reports reach him that loose ends from that case may be unraveling, he's compelled to check it out since his actions may have endangered others. King captures perfectly the contradictions of combat: the exhilaration and the horror, the isolation and the camaraderie. The niche Allen eventually finds, the one that allows him to function more or less successfully, offers almost the same mix of extreme emotions. This novel of harrowing suspense and wrenching resolution should earn King plenty of accolades.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Alan Carmichael, who has devoted his life to rescuing abused children, takes on one last case-with devastating consequences. The latest from multi-mystery-award winner King.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars At least as good as Folly March 7 2004
Format:Hardcover
Allen Carmichael was a second-tier character in Laurie King's delightful novel Folly, the story of internationally-renowned woodworker Rae Newborn's attempt to tighten her tenuous hold on reality by building a house on an uninhabited island in Washington State. In Keeping Watch, Allen's character and history are fully fleshed out, from the experiences in Vietnam that ineradicably imprinted themselves on him, to the mission he undertook after the War as a means of quelling his demons: Allen has spent more than 25 years applying his jungle survival skills to the task of rescuing abused children and wives from their abusers, usually by illicit means. When the action of Keeping Watch begins, Allen is in his mid-fifties and is about to retire from the field, but one final case requires his attention first: twelve-year-old Jamie O'Connell lives in terror of his father, whose casual abuse and cruel manipulations have warped the boy beyond measure.
King's exploration of Allen's character is wholly successful, and her depiction of his patrols in the "green" in Vietnam riveting. The contemporary story of Jamie's rescue is equally rewarding, indeed downright engrossing after about page 240, when of a sudden one stops knowing for certain who the bad guys are. Keeping Watch is at least as good as King's novel Folly. Familiarity with the earlier book is not at all necessary, but readers of Keeping Watch will almost certainly want to treat themselves to a broader view of the universe Allen Carmichael inhabits once they've finished with King's latest.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but ultimately disappointing Feb. 29 2004
By Larry
Format:Hardcover
One of my favorite books of all time is Laurie King's first novel, A GRAVE TALENT. In a sense it is ironic that a supremely talented writer like Ms. King with many other distinguished books under her belt has not yet written a book to outdo her very first effort. With every book that she writes I hope for something to outdo the first effort. With the much heralded KEEPING TOUCH, I thought she might have finally done it. It sounded like she has written her true masterpiece at last. In fact, as I read the first hundred pages I thought that might finally be the case. However, she simply did not know how to keep her work down to a manageable length and unfortunately it does not live up to her first book.
Allen Carmichael has returned from Vietnam a psychological mess. It takes him quite some time to pull himself together. When the smoke clears he finds himself in a job in which he kidnaps children from abusive relationships and relocates them elsewhere in a safer and more supportive environment. Jamie is severely abused physically and mentally from his father. After removing him from the situation, Allen notes the father might be onto them thereby placing both Jamie and his foster family in danger. Allen must try to discover the truth about Jamie's father before it is too late.
A very promising start in this novel filled with harrowing scenes in Vietnam leads to a disappointing and trying conclusion. The novel goes on at least a hundred pages too long. All the strengths of Ms. King's work is here- the impeccably created characters, the riveting passages, the vivid descriptions of the locale and the intelligent subplots. However, the pacing lags and the length suffers as a result. A potential classic that simply could not maintain the high level consistently throughout.
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5.0 out of 5 stars children's advocacy - the underground movement July 5 2003
Format:Hardcover
I started out reading the Mary Russel novels of Laurie King and then progressed to Kate Matinelli. I read Keeping Watch before Justice Hall. This is new ground for the author but very fertile territory. It is hard to put a label on this book (i.e., mystery, fiction). It has substantive action and totally believable dialogue, no make believe like her other titles, which are very good. There is a craftsman-like leitmotif weaving of sub-plots and topics here, all obviously well-researched. King's titles all seem to have an accurate sense of history and geography and this is no exception. Its messages are real. It was eye-opening to me about children's advocacy issues and how victims repress and feel powerful emotions simultaneously. It was startling in its portrayal of the horrors of war (Vietnam). And it was powerful in depicting the depression of the protagonist and his struggle to achieve stability. It was moralistic, with good conquering evil.
The battle was never an easy one though and the author leads the reader to explore commitment, involvement, care and instruction of children, and loyalty to family and friends among other issues. Its relationships between men and women are on solid footing, too, as women are portrayed as role models in difficult situations. Not perfect types, but very human, with defined needs and depth of character who bring much to their associations. This is not just a good read. It is terrific. King won an Edgar Prize a few years ago for best mystery by a new writer. I don't know again if this qualifies as a mystery. If it does, it will compete for another Edgar as Best Mystery of the Year. Also, it makes King an attractive candidate for a Lifetime Achievement Edgar. She writes with the literacy of a Susan George.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of King's Best
I've come to love Laurie King's literate, thoughtful and humanistic takes on mystery and suspense. KEEPING WATCH didn't let me down one bit. Read more
Published on April 27 2004 by Carolyn Bright
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best work
I love Laurie R. King and have eagerly awaited each of her novels. And enjoyed each one greatly. This one however could have used some major pruning. Read more
Published on March 26 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars O.K. read
Too difficult to follow, too obvious, and too full of stereotypes. Get from your library.
Published on July 3 2003 by plum9195
5.0 out of 5 stars A REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT
KEEPING WATCH is a remarkable achievement. Laurie King intertwines a first-rate story of war in Vietnam with a contemporary suspense story about rescuing a twelve-year old from... Read more
Published on May 18 2003 by charles falk
5.0 out of 5 stars King's best book yet!
Since there are already several glowing and wonderfully written reviews here, I will keep mine short and sweet. This is Laurie R. Read more
Published on May 17 2003 by Menagerie
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtprovoking
If I were as good a writer as Laurie King, I would have the right words at my fingertips to do this novel justice. Read more
Published on May 13 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars How does she do it?
I'm a big fan of Laurie R. King's "Kate Martinelli" series; and bought this book to see what else she can write. Read more
Published on May 6 2003 by L. Quido
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific!
Her in-the-mind characterization of what it is like to be an American soldier/warrior in Vietnam is so believeable, and so disturbing. I liked that part the best. Read more
Published on April 26 2003 by Peter L. Swinford
5.0 out of 5 stars Laurie King Treats Her Many Fans to an Excellent Read
Laurie King has gained herself an enthusiastic new fan. If all of her books are as well crafted as KEEPING WATCH, I'll be digging through library shelves to find every one. Read more
Published on April 13 2003 by Bookreporter
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it and you'll find it's King's best yet
When, on page 10 I suddenly found myself deep inside the war in Vietnam, a continent away from the suspense novel I thought I'd just sat down to read, I grew wary, thumbed ahead,... Read more
Published on March 13 2003
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