KEEPER by Greg Rucka


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 First novel about a professional bodyguard hired to protect the director of a women's health clinic in New York City. Atticus Kodiak meets Dr. Felice Romero when he brings his girlfriend, Alison, to her clinic for an abortion. In just a few days, Romero is scheduled to kick off a massive conference on abortion; her idea is that pro-life and pro-choice forces can all air their views and vent their passions and, perhaps, come to some common understandings. But Romero's life is being threatened and she's frightened, if not for herself then for her daughter Katie, a sweet, innocent girl with Down's syndrome. The probable source of the threats is Jonathan Crowell, a charlatan and demagogue with a known history of urging violence against those involved in abortion. Feeling odd and even rather guilty after Alison's abortion, Atticus agrees to bring in his team to guard Romero round-the-clock, but hardly has the job begun when Katie is brutally murdered. Her death is certainly affecting, but newcomer Rucka can't quite control the results: Romero staggers through the narrative like a zombie, and Atticus never really overcomes the reader's sense that he's incompetent. Matters aren't helped much by Rucka's portrayals of two unpleasant women: Alison, who calls Atticus in the middle of his trials to announce she wants to break up; and a brash private investigator, Bridgett, whose presence seems, at best, contrived. Then, too, Crowell's villainy is something of a red herring, the real tale having more to do with the search for Katie's insane killer than with the battle over abortion. What Rucka does manage to suggest is a sense of ordinary people somehow battling through a time of panic and terrible stress. There's too much feeling here for a purely commercial effort, and too many concessions to suspense for a thoughtful statement about abortion. Powerful, but uneven.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-553-10244-3
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996


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