THE KEEPER by Meg O'Brien


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O'Brien's hardcover debut is the nailbiting tale of a child kidnapped from a dysfunctional family. Charly Hayes's father Nathan is a 40-ish, well-cushioned L.A. lawyer; her mother Brooke is a 30-ish actress using the lead in a S.F. production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown to bounce back from a yearlong binge on liquor and pills that cost her her marriage (no great loss) and custody of Charly, now 19. But it's her far-off mother whom a frantic Charly phones--with a cryptic, tantalizing message--after she's kidnaped from a Universal Studios tour. And Brooke, stiffed by both Nathan--who insists first that Charly is right at the dinner table with him, and then that she's gone on a camping trip to the Grand Canyon with some friends--and the police--who are all too ready to take Nathan's word over hers--doesn't waste any time getting in touch with John Creed, an ex-cop tracker of missing children known as the Keeper, who helps Brooke piece together the slender clues that set her on Charly's trail. So far, the story is routine, but O'Brien has a few promising twists in reserve: Nathan's abrupt disappearance; the possible implication of Brooke's theatrical colleagues back home; and the revelation that a new piece of evidence is about to make Creed, whose fanatical dedication to his work stems from the disappearance of his own boy years ago, a fugitive from the police colleagues who ought to be helping. The whole plot, from ungainly red herrings to slam-bang finale, doesn't bear much retrospection, but it's guaranteed to keep you up late.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Doubleday