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Keeping Watch [Paperback]

Laurie R King
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 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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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; Reprint edition (1 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553382527
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553382525
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 0.1 x 25.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 946,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping adventure 3 Mar 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The main character serves in the American army in Vietnam, comes home, breaks down, and saves himself by devoting his life to rescuing children from abusive situations. The book is riveting, and characters and events are well described. I feared it might be 'gung-ho' but it certainly wasn't. I enjoyed it a lot.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not Folly! 19 Oct 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I preferred King's earlier book, Folly, as I enjoyed the woodworking detail, but this was a very good read.
The chapter of Allen Carmichael made his appearance in that book, and this one tells his story. His motivations come from his time in the military during the Vietnam War, and the flashbacks to those experiences are well done and provide the rationale for his later behaviour.
Good descriptions and characterisation
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece . . . 11 Nov 2006
By J M Dho - Published on
I'm not going to review this novel - others have already done so. Some folks thought it was too long, others didn't care for the Vietnam introduction. But I was there - Vietnam in 1970/71 - and can attest from personal experience that Ms. King captures the heat, the sensations, the fear...and the Green to perfection. And the intro is vital to understanding the demons that drive Allen Carmichael.

So, even if you think you don't like 'war stories', stick with it...please! You'll be rewarded with a fascinating character study and a complex psychological thriller. You may also come to understand why so many of those who fought in Vietnam took years to put the pieces of their life together (and why some never could) and how Abu Ghraib and other Iraqi 'incidents' can occur 30 years later.

Ms. King continues to amaze and challenge. . .
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars children's advocacy - the underground movement 6 July 2003
By Dennis E. Donham - Published on
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. This book reminds me of Cold Mountain in many ways, too. It will compete for lots of awards. It is a serious novel by an author just finding her prime. I recommend it enthusiastically. I do caution readers that this book is candid about psychological hurt and physical pain. Not everyone will want to finish reading it.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it and you'll find it's King's best yet 13 Mar 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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, found 86 pages of description of what it was like to be a Marine in Vietnam ahead of me and almost threw the book across the room. If there'd been anything good on TV I might have. I put the book aside several times, finally just decided to plug away at it and I'm so glad I did. By the time the story finally left Vietnam I found I wouldn't have minded staying longer. But finally the plot kicks in and a riveting one it is, too. Allen Carmichael, whom King readers met previously as Rae's lover in "Folly" (another terrific read), stars in this one and by midway through his story you begin to realize why that long author's detour through 'Nam was necessary. Allen has come to the end of a long and dangerous career as a man who kidnaps abused children (and sometimes their mothers along with them) and finds them sanctuary. Here he's about to embark on his last case, where nothing is quite what it seems. What a joy and relief to find my favorite mystery/suspense writer in top form again after the disappointing "Justice Hall." King fans, I think you're going to really really like this one.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown away! 9 Mar 2003
By omnireader - Published on
I have always been a fan of both Laurie King's series, finding them complex and entertaining. This newest novel, Keeping Watch, is by far the best she has written. Allen Carmichael came back from a tour in Vietnam wounded in both body and soul in the late 60's when no one had ever heard of post-traumatic stress disorder to a country and family who had no idea what had happened to all the young men shipped off to a hellish, senseless war. Haunted by nightmares and flashbacks of both the things he had seen and had done, he sinks into several years of homeless wandering until he ends up back at his childhood home. In the care of his young brother Jerry, he begins to heal and seek his purpose in life. He finds it in rescuing children from the hands of abusive fathers and putting them into an underground network of families willing to foster them to adulthood. After 26 years he takes one final case before retiring to his beloved island home,that of rescuing 12 year old Jamie O'Connell from his monstrous father. Jamie both hates and loves his father, as many abused children do, but knows that his father will kill him eventually. When Jamie is safely placed in Montana, Allen thinks that he can peacefully retire until a plane registered to Jamie's father crashes,but no remains are found. There are many twists and turns before a final resolution to both Jamie's story and Allen's.
This is an absolutely harrowing novel, but one that can't be put down. I was especially stunned by the considerable portions telling of Allen's Vietnam experience. Being of the Vietnam generation, I saw many of my friends be shipped off-some to return and some not. It amazes me that any of them came back sane. Laurie King's telling of Allen's story is a triumph of her imagination and narrative powers.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT 18 May 2003
By charles falk - Published on
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 his abusive father. Both stories gain harmonic richness from their conjunction. This reader was utterly enmeshed in the complexity of thier gradual unfolding.
Allen Carmichael returns from Vietnam haunted by terrible memories and nightmares. After seven years of wandering in a wilerness of alcohol, memory gaps, and petty crime he rurns home to Washinton's San Juan Islands to begin reconstructing himself. He spends the next two decades rescuing abused women and children for an underground network run by a woman named Alice. He has finally decided to retire and marry his lover, Rae Newborn (central figure of King's last novel FOLLY), but Alice persuades him to take one last case. It turns out to be the most challenging in his career, threatening the network and the lives of Allen and Jamie -- the boy he is trying to save.
King has never written a book with a male protagonist before. The most vivd sections of the book are Carmichael's flashbacks of Vietnam. King credits "the stories" of Vietnam vets in helping her accomplish this feat. It is a measure of King's skill that those scenes have the flavor of first-hand observation. The suspense story has enough twists and turns to satisfy the most jaded mystery reader.
Highly recommended.
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